Total Pageviews

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Stop sending food to Somalia

Somalia has been getting food aid almost continuously since 1991. During the same period, there has been non-stop fighting between rival warlords and the provisional government. Despite receiving massive amounts of food, Somalia is no better off than it was 1991.

The World Food Program, which distributes most of the food aid in Somalia, warns that a greater number of Somalis face starvation if food aid is not increased. The estimates that form the basis of this claim come from UNICEF and other aid organizations. So, the people that get paid to provide famine relief are also the ones determining if there is a famine or not. This is called a "conflict of interest."

The rash of pirate attacks in Somalia doesn't jive with the famine claim. If they're starving, why are they spending money on weapons to hijack ships?

The food aid that is being sent to Somalia has in all probability prolonged the suffering and chaos in that nation. Warlords fight over the food aid and sell it on the black market to buy arms. For a detailed analysis of this, read The Road to Hell by Michael Maren.

Not only does the food aid fuel the chaos of war, but it also puts local producers out of business by driving down prices. The only benefactors from the ensuing chaos are the warlords and pirates.

More broadly, all the major recipients of foreign aid (a large proportion of which comes from the US) are disaster areas. Liberia, Somalia, the former Zaire, Sudan- billions of dollars were poured into these places and they are all engulfed in anarchy and bloodshed.

The first rule of helping is "do no harm."

No comments: