Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Aid to Africa...Is it working?

In the book 'Dead Aid,' Dambisa Moyo claims that aid to Africa has done nothing to alleviate poverty on the continent and should be shut off in five years.
It's a provocative book with relevant points that makes a case to determine if AID to Africa is working. As a missionary health care worker sometimes I wonder are we making a difference. Some statistics would indicate that despite decades of foreign Aid to the continent of Africa things are no better.

Sixty years ago roughly 10% of the continent lived on a dollar a day and today over 70% live on a dollar a day.
Average annual GDP per capita in Sub-Sahara Africa is less than $2,000 (lowest in the world) and more than half of that comes from two countries (Nigeria & South Africa). To increase the income of the world's poorest 1.4 billion (the bottom billion as they have been called) to just $2,000 per year would require a budget 14 times the size of the current world aid budget.
Most African governments remain 70% to 80% dependent on foreign aid.

But these statistics do not tell the whole story.

PEPFAR has been remarkably successful is slowing the spread of HIV and treating AIDS. In 2002 only 50,000 were receiving life-saving AIDS treatment and in 2007 that number has increased to 2 million.
Between 2005 and 2007 in Ethiopia and Rwanda deaths due to malaria were cut in half due to increase availability to bed nets and anti-malarial medications.
In the last 10 years 34 million African children went to school for the first time.

What do we make of these statistics as a Christian and also Health Care provider in Kenya. On one hand as a health-care worker must be responsible and effective with funding that is entrusted to us and the hospital. I think health-care (one of the 3 pillars of reducing poverty in Africa along with education and agriculture) is an effective means of AID. Personally, we can see the difference care in a mission hospital makes in the lives of our patients each day. Furthermore, at Kijabe and numerous other mission hospitals the care given is not just by addition (missionary doctor to patient) but also by multiplication (missionary doctor to doctors in training who then go out to touch many patients).

But this isn't the entire story. Kijabe Hospital and other mission hospitals are evaluated beyond the means of annual patients visits (over 100,000), major surgeries annually (over 8,000), or number of patients enrolled in the AIDS RELIEF program (over 5000). Patient's come to mission hospitals and many find the right diagnosis, a life-changing surgery, a healthy new baby, AIDS medicine to keep them alive.

But to some the prognosis is not good, the treatment not available, the medicine too expensive. Where is God at those times? There may be no silver lining. Things really may not "turn out for the good." It seems that God is responsible and "on the hook." Peter Kreeft points out that no amount of philosophizing will get God "off the hook". God sent his Son Jesus to intentionally put himself on the hook. Through Jesus Christ, God experienced the greatest human humiliation, the greatest human suffering, but also the greatest human redemption. Therefore, Christianity by putting God on the hook (doesn't try to give a reason) yet seeks to provide the resources to the hurting to have the courage to conquer uncertainty, discouragement, bitterness, and even death with security, hope, love and salvation in Him.


Family said...

Great post.

Megan said...

Thank you for these thoughtful and challenging book reviews you share.