Why Does Poverty Persist?: A Look at International Aid in Sub-Saharan Africa

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In 2011, World Bank (2013) aided the amount equivalent to 54 US dollars per individual in sub-Saharan Africa. However, the question is if 910.4 million of people in sub-Saharan Africa have equally enjoyed its benefit. Despite the regional and international aid dedicated to eradicate poverty in the last 60 years, about 442 million, the half of population in sub-Saharan Africa, are still living on under 1.25 US dollars everyday (World Bank, 2013). Although the efficacy of international aid on poverty reduction has been questioned in a large number of public and academic discourses, many so called developed countries such as G8 are yet encouraged to provide more aid (Sachs, 2005) while less developed countries still rely on international aid as means to reduce poverty and achieve Millennium Development Goals (Glennie, 2008; Moyo, 2010). This does not seem to lead to the end nor the reduction of poverty. Instead, this essay argues that in order to achieve poverty reduction in sub-Saharan Africa, international aid needs to be reduced because it reinforces poverty, namely the power and economic disparities. I will first look at theoretical and historical backgrounds in relation to the development and international aid in sub-Saharan Africa and then examine the controversy which international aid generates to the local and international communities in terms of culture, sustainability, and politics. Finally, I will suggest an alternative way for sub-Saharan African communities’ development. While sub-Saharan Africa is culturally, socio-economically, and politically unique and diverse region, in this essay, I refer to Schuurman (1993)’s definition that inequality is what characterizes and holds them together. Before discussing how i... ... middle of paper ... ...nnie (2008)’s suggestion on the taxation of foreign and transnational business in African states along the enforcement of legitimate laws could secure an increase in Gross Domestic Products. In addition and more importantly, such law should assure socioeconomic and environmental sustainability of the local communities so that economic growth would actually lead to the empowerment of middle-class and civil society to guarantee social and political autonomy instead of exploiting it. In conclusion, this essay has argued that international aid assigned to poverty reduction in sub-Saharan Africa has not served its objectives, as Western donors were more interested in resources and the maintenance of socioeconomic and political power. To reduce poverty, aid needs to be reduced so that African countries can build capacity to determine and achieve their own development.

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