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Thursday, February 10, 2011

An unsettling trend: Using aid for political & military purposes

Donor governments are now spending proportionately more aid on countries they consider politically and militarily important while overlooking equally severe needs in crises elsewhere.

Oxfam found that billions of dollars in international aid which could have transformed the lives of people in the poorest countries in the world was instead spent on unsustainable, expensive and sometimes dangerous aid projects, as international donor governments used aid to support their own short-term foreign policy and security objectives.

Since 2001 there has been a growing trend of aid being used to win “hearts and minds” in conflicts. Unfortunately, this aid is often poorly conceived, ineffective, and in some cases has turned beneficiaries and aid workers into targets for attack. This type of aid often by-passes the poorest people and dangerously blurs the line between civilian and military activity.

While "aid" flows rose towards meeting wealthy donors' international aid commitments between 2001 and 2008, more than 40 per cent of this increase in aid was spent in just two countries, Afghanistan and Iraq. The remainder, according to Oxfam, was shared between 150 other poor countries.

With more people in need of aid than ever before, a new approach is needed to maximize the impact of aid based on long-term objectives rather than short-term political or military interests. The question is, how can we change this pattern of behaviour?

Click here to read the full Oxfam report "Whose Aid Is It Anyway"

-GlassFrog Blogger Vanessa


  1. The first thing that any government asks when presented with an opportunity to help is: "What's in it for ME?" The answer to that question determines the plight for a lot of these impoverished nations and communities in need. Sad.

  2. I completely agree (with Anonymous). If only there was reason that governments could find that spending their resources on the most poor would be more beneficial to them.
    This kind of brings me back to thinking about multinational enterprises. They would find there is something in it for them if they in regions where the poor reside. Perhaps this article is just more support for the fact that private firms should be even more involved that aid foundations and the government.