ccording to Bill Gates, foreign aid is essential to the development of developing countries. This aid boosts the economies of the weaker nations, and it has a knock-on effect in terms of the influence and security it can bring those countries who supply foreign aid.
The problem seems to be that foreign aid does not always go to those who are in most need, nor is it often given on the friendliest of terms.
Another problem is the level of corruption in these impoverished countries at the government level preventing aid from reaching the most vulnerable.
Why foreign aid works
Bill Gates and his wife Melinda are well-known philanthropists. They have publicly stated that it is their mission to donate over half of their more than $80 billion of wealth to good causes.
The Gates Foundation has helped people worldwide, with their intervention in the fight against malaria being an especially successful cause.
Gates believes that giving a hand to the less fortunate is advantageous for all of those involved.
“INVESTING IN THE HEALTH AND WELL-BEING OF PEOPLE IN A POOR COUNTRY PAYS DIVIDENDS FAR BEYOND THAT COUNTRY’S BORDERS, FOREIGN AID INVESTMENTS ARE LONG-TERM INVESTMENTS IN HEALTH AND SECURITY EVEN OF BRITISH CITIZENS HERE AT HOME.”Bill Gates
These remarks were made in response to the idea that Britan will reduce its foreign aid spend once Brexit is complete. And Gates has also lobbied President Trump on the importance of providing foreign support.
Before meeting the president at the White House, Gates published a blog post entitled “How foreign aid helps Americans.” He argued that spending money on other countries makes Americans safe, by stabilizing volatile and vulnerable parts of the world and combating the outbreaks of epidemics.
The epidemic part is unfortunate, considering the times we find ourselves in now, but the overall logic sounds pretty solid. Giving to the needy will help those places grow and therefore help to reduce the dangerous repercussions that can come with volatility.
Unfortunately, foreign aid is not often distributed solely based on need. Vested interests play a much more significant role.
In 2018, the five most impoverished countries in the world were the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Uganda, Tajikistan, and Haiti.
In that same year, the UK gave the most aid to Pakistan, Syria, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Afghanistan.
Not one of the five most impoverished countries in the world was in the top ten of countries receiving aid from the UK.
It is unlikely that anything in this pattern has changed in more recent times. It is also true that the same pattern would be seen in the way all wealthy nations distribute their aid.
Poorer countries receive aid from wealthier countries when it is in the givers’ best interests to do so, whether this is for geopolitical or trade reasons.
In the US, the giving of aid is not even really giving at all. As the USAid website used to boast until it realized the absurdity of its proud announcement:
“The principal beneficiary of America’s foreign assistance programs has always been the United States. Close to 80% of the US Agency for International Development’s contracts and grants go directly to American firms.”
A better world
In general terms, it is easy to appreciate that the overall state of the world is better than it was 30 or 40 years ago.
Many fewer people are suffering from starvation. Life expectancy rates and literacy rates are up across the board. And previously emerging nations have started to pull themselves up and are asserting themselves on the world stage.
This growth and development can probably be better attributed to the capitalist system which dominates the world than the selective giving of foreign aid, but the bigger picture is undoubtedly positive.
If Bil Gates’ idea of foreign aid was implemented on governmental levels, there is no doubt that the world would be an even stronger and better place. Unfortunately, that kind of foreign aid is pretty much a fallacy.