30 May 2008

USAID Harms The Poor

...according to the GAO, which says that "a Bush administration initiative to `end hunger in Africa' launched in 2002 effectively amounted to a repackaging of existing programs and came with no new funding."

Even worse, the old programs destabilize production in Africa for the benefit of producers in the US. How? By redirecting funding from building production capacity in poor countries to shipping emergency food when disaster strikes -- as it is likely to do more often. Even worse, the emergency food must be bought from American farmers and shipped on American boats, which cuts purchasing power twice and reduces demand for food grown in poorer countries -- harming farmers even further.

Of course, the programs make USAID look good ("we're helping starving people") without acknowledging how those same programs are causing their starvation.

Bottom Line: If you wanted to design the worst program for people in developing countries do the most harm to their ability to feed themselves and prosper, you'd be hard pressed to design a worse program than this one. (Getting invaded might be better.) Whoever kills this program (or USAID) deserves a Nobel Peace Prize for reducing world hunger and suffering.