Offering aid without development is costing lives in the global south

The debate in the Guardian (Outrage aimed at No 10 as MPs back £4bn cut to foreign aid budget, 13 July; Letters, 15 July) over the past few days has only contributed to the continuation of a fundamental error that is literally costing millions of lives in the global south. None of the politicians or correspondents who have intervened in the discussions have emphasised the profound conflict between aid and development. The two are usually presented as synonymous – they are not.

Because we have nurtured very little development to enable poor people in poor countries to stand on their own two feet, we have had to give them more aid. We have not helped them develop their own agency. We have not enabled them to develop agriculture to meet their own needs, encouraged governments to undertake land reform, educated women farmers, facilitated local seed multiplication or created local agricultural colleges.

We have given more and more power to the World Food Programme to buy from countries that have created food surpluses because of subsidies to their farmers. That body, which received the Nobel peace prize and is dominated by the west, can decide who will live and who will starve.

We have forced countries, under World Trade Organization rules, to open their markets to sterile seeds manufactured by international chemical companies. We are destroying their right to their own agency under rules we have set up. Instead, we have enabled large “charities” – all acting as the empires of old – to enforce our western rules. Please help to stop the continuation of this monstrous hypocrisy.
Benny Dembitzer
Director, Grassroots Malawi

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