Stop giving money to the governments of poor African countries
If you really want to make a difference, you need to take this seriously
This post is inspired by Erin Quinlan who challenged me a while back to write about the impact of charity schemes in the underdeveloped world. I know the world organization calls them ‘developing’ rather than ‘underdeveloped’ but that just adds to the problem. Most of them (if not all of them) are deteriorating faster than they are developing. And perhaps they feel the best way to approach their situation is to close their eyes to the decay and focus on the growth (which is not significant). I’ll try to get to the point as quickly and simply as possible. By the way, I am not writing as a distant observer. I know these communities, I have lived there, so if you want to doubt I wonder what will be your reason.
Quite recently, I heard of an idea floating around on a couple of platforms about a universal basic income. The idea states that everybody should be given a basic income like that to erase inequality and lift the world out of poverty. When I hear things like that, I wonder if those who come up with them have been in areas of poverty before. It is one thing to see people suffering on TV, it’s another thing to be right there in their community. It is one thing to visit poor communities as a journalist or tourist born and (/or) bred in a western society, it is another thing to live in those communities and observe their natural lives. Poverty is a mindset. No amount of money can cure it! Is that so difficult to understand?
The solution to poverty is (first) education. This is not the usual school education. School education is dead especially in third world countries. I know a country that pumps out graduates by the millions and have no reasonable job market. In the USA for example, there are lots of educational platforms, trainings, conferences, classes, organized by private individuals (and companies) to help other individuals to get a grip of certain knowledge or skill that’ll help them navigate into the life they want. I have heard lots of stories of successful people whose life (especially, financial life) took a drastic turn after attending an event, conference, training, etc. For some it began by reading a book where someone pours out insight. And then they began to take steps based on what they understand and start to grow from there. They learnt how to be productive from other productive people and their lives changed. This is the kind of education that eradicates poverty.
The second thing needed to eradicate poverty is a platform. When education has been received, there ought to be a good platform for people to work out what they’ve learnt to be productive in the society. The essence of the traditional system of schooling was intended to be this way, but a rigid system of education was created for a rapidly changing world. The world organizations are more keen on maintaining the status quo than to give way to disruption. After a child can read, write, and speak expressly in a major language, traditional schooling should be over. The next thing ought to be productivity education that has a visible platform. This is what has made first world countries great, why do people now think differently of third world countries?
The government of a country has a big role to play in determining the platforms that thrive in the country. All third world countries have this in common: extremely few or zero platforms for indigenous people trying to be productive. The people in government in many of those places do not even know the power they will in creating platforms of relevance for the countrymen. This is the problem of poverty; no system that inspires, promotes and encourages productivity growth. And interestingly the governments of those countries are responsible for the dire state of the country. Listen to some of them talk, you will find out that they have no idea what they don’t know. Most are there to fill position and usurp power over the common people. And majority of the common people are willing to tolerate poverty. Tolerance for poverty is something you won’t find in developed economies. If the government officials in the these countries are blank on how to change things, why should they be given money?
If your money is going to a government agency in an African country to “make a difference”, it is probably not doing any reasonable thing. I understand that there might be exceptions, but currently there is none I know of. And I know some of these places quite well. If you really want to make a difference, find a private individual that is already involved in a viable project and partner in the project. Even at that, you need to look very carefully before you join yourself to any project in there. If you have not been there, you probably shouldn’t put money in anything going on there. The poverty stricken places need rich people much more than money. People with wisdom change things, not money in the hands of nice people. The mindset in most African communities is to look for what to get and collect. The people do not understand productivity growth and that is the reason for poverty. The people of the society prefers the government to share money for people to spend than for the money to be used for infrastructural development. Infrastructural developments are seen by a lots of politicians as a means to enrich themselves. I don’t understand how a group of people that cannot manage the small money they have judiciously be given huge money. This is why the government of poor African countries should not be given money.
What about the difference the money is going to make in the poor people’s lives? Really? In an average African community, if you pack a truck there and announce with a megaphone that people who don’t have food to eat should come and get food. In a matter of minutes, the place would be packed with crowds and you’ll find them even fighting over the distribution. Do that for 3 days and then go there on the 4th day with no food but work to do (with no pay). The very people who looked like rags to collect what you had will look at you with disdain when you come with with work (looking like your funds is exhausted). This is the problem of poverty. How in the world can money solve that?
Never forget, 2 things will put an end to poverty; education and a platform. Cheers!