12 Apr

 Has Foreign Aid Reversed Poverty In Sub-Saharan Africa?

Has Foreign Aid Reversed Poverty In Sub-Saharan Africa? Despite more than $1 trillion in aid in the past several decades, Sub-Saharan Africa remains the world’s poorest region. This is a conundrum for Development experts. In spite of the largesse and multitude of experts made available to these nations, progress has eluded them. The reader might wonder about the relevance of this topic on a health and wellness blog site in USA. Well, the truth is that the world cannot afford to ignore the failure of most of the nations of Africa. Just remember the 2013 – 2016 Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa and how quickly it spread outside Africa.

A new book, “RESCUE THYSELF: Change In Sub-Saharan Africa Must Come From Within” is an in-depth, holistic and bold  “conversation” with several constituencies about the calamitous condition of these nations. The audiences include Africans, in particular Sub-Saharan Africans, especially their leaders, policy makers and donors in Europe, North America, and Asia. The book would also be of considerable interest to scholars in African studies, the general public and the foreign aid community including celebrities. The book was published by Hamilton Books, an imprint of Rowman and Littlefield publishers on April 12, 2017.


Primary School pupils in a dilapidated mud wall classroom in East Africa; Has Foreign Aid Reversed Poverty In Sub-Saharan Africa?
Primary School pupils in a dilapidated mud wall classroom in East Africa

The book asserts that the most formidable obstacles to progress and development in Sub-Saharan Africa are the woeful, corrupt  leaders who have presided over the decimation of the subcontinent. Five to six decades of more than $1 trillion poured into Sub-Saharan Africa by the developed world has yielded minimal fruit. Thus, it is time to change course and seek alternative answers to the question: Has Foreign Aid Reversed Poverty In Sub-Saharan Africa?

The central questions raised in the book are: Why are these nations so poor despite the fact that many of them have more natural resources than many of the developed nations and the emerging economies of the world?  Why are the leaders performing so poorly?  Why have the prescriptions of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the various United Nations agencies, the G7, then G8 and now G20;, scores of Foundations and Non Government Organizations (NGOs) failed to reverse the destitution in these nations?  Has Foreign Aid Reversed Poverty In Sub-Saharan Africa despite the efforts of the world’s developed nations?

The book digs deep, beyond the superficialities of stereotypes to try and answer these questions. The point is made that in order for the poverty in the subcontinent to diminish significantly, the next generation of leaders must undergo major attitudinal and psychic transformation. They must look inwards, and take responsibility for the failure of their nations and begin in earnest the urgent and long overdue task of development from within. The leaders of these failed States must love their fellow citizens as themselves. The mammoth corruption must abate. The leaders must wean their nations off foreign aid and begin to utilize the enormous human and natural resources in their nations to lift themselves from the basement.

They must start asking themselves this puzzling question: Has Foreign Aid Reversed Poverty In Sub-Saharan Africa?  I believe no objective observer of the African scene would answer the question with a ‘yes’.

World Bank: Poverty remains unacceptably high in Sub-Saharan Africa; Has Foreign Aid Reversed Poverty In Sub-Saharan Africa?
World Bank: Poverty remains unacceptably high in Sub-Saharan Africa

The point is made and supported by evidence that the chronic failure of these nations is due to failure of leadership. Other issues like ethnic diversity, genetic diversity, multiplicity of languages,  poor infrastructure, poor institutions are addressed. Hot button issues like supposedly inferior intelligence, inherent incapability, “Blackness and Black Africa” are tackled head on.

In addressing some of these thorny issues and in pursuit of answer to the question; Has Foreign Aid Reversed Poverty In Sub-Saharan Africa, the author went deeper, compared with the major available texts on African development. He delved into science, philosophy and a trace of religion. This holistic approach is necessary if one wishes to take a fresh look at this complex conundrum facing Sub-Saharan Africa and the world.  Furthermore, it is time to expand the examination of the poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa beyond the prism of economics as it has been done for several decades. It is time to look beyond “Economics” for the answers to this vast question: Why Has Foreign Aid Not Reversed Poverty In Sub-Saharan Africa?

The abduction of hundreds of female students in North Eastern Nigeria by Boko Haram, the 2014 – 2015  Ebola epidemic in West Africa, the worsening destitution in many of the nations of Sub Saharan Africa have been well reported. All these events make it imperative that a blunt, comprehensive analysis and discussion of the failure of these nations should take place. The suffering of the masses cannot and will not be reversed by outside benefactors no matter their deep pockets. If one answers ‘no’ to the question, Has Foreign Aid Reversed Poverty In Sub-Saharan Africa? I submit that the solution is not more money or more Aid, certainly not as currently disbursed.

The author strongly advocates  that the open ended “giving” approach of many of the donors should be seriously re-examined. Some of the donors and NGOs have been working in the continent for thirty or more years. Yet, not much has changed. Indeed, in many of these nations, the pain and suffering of the people continue to worsen. Sure, the donors are very passionate about alleviating poverty in these nations. However, they should demand more accountability, transparency and honest governance from the leaders of these nations.  Some of these nations certainly need help. But first, they must start helping themselves. The author suggests several possible answers to the question: Has Foreign Aid Reversed Poverty In Sub-Saharan Africa?  All the suggestions are anchored on new type of leadership, honest governance, quality education, superb infrastructure, respect for the rule of law and a different strategy by the donors.

The author was born in Nigeria, and educated there from primary school to Medical School. He has also been involved in development issues in the sub-continent for many years, mainly in the education and healthcare sectors. At the same time, he has been reflecting very deeply about these big questions: Why are post independent Sub-Saharan African leaders so corrupt and so devoid of any touch of “Humanism”? Why Has Foreign Aid Not Reversed Poverty In Sub-Saharan Africa? The blame for the decrepitude state of these nations is put where it belongs, i.e. squarely at the door step of these leaders. The case is also made, very strongly, that the Creator, for those who believe in one, and certainly Nature, have given Sub-Saharan Africans all the tools they need, i.e., human and natural resources to develop their nations. Thus, they need not continue the culture of dependency on the rest of the human race.



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