Found in 5 comments on Hacker News
kuwze · 2018-04-16 · Original thread
There is a huge history of how much aid has hurt African countries[0].

After doing a bit of research, I have come to the conclusion that the best way to help poor people is to give away phones. I think it would really help people keep in contact with friends and family as well as help bootstrap innumerous businesses and really help the GDP of these countries. Sadly I have yet to find a service that lets me send new (cheap) smartphones to people in need.

Although I do not like a tiered internet, I do like the premise of Zuckerberg's project. I think that access to Wikipedia in particular should be a right these days. For some reason I always idolize it (along with Kindles) as being the path towards creating a Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy for everyone.


azinman2 · 2017-12-30 · Original thread
> It is not as if European countries sending foreign aid to Africa is some hugely novel and experimental concept. It is well-understood how to do good in Africa and the Danish would be more competent than most at the job.

Actually it’s not well understood at all, and whatever lessons we think we’ve learned aren’t normally applied as aid is emotional and not rational [1]


Dead Aid is also a great book on why Aid to Africa is usually in vain.


nikcub · 2012-03-10 · Original thread
A few years ago I was reading a story about the war in the Congo. I felt really guilty for not knowing much about what was going on. What I knew about it I picked up through reading The Economist or the NYT, but I didn't really have a good overall understanding of the war and the history of that part of the continent (despite having spent time living in Africa, too)

So I went through Amazon and picked up some books about the history of Africa, the history of the Congo, history of Aid in Africa, and read up about it.

My impression has completely changed. Almost all of the wars and trouble in the region are a result of the current national borders having been imposed on the continent by colonialists who divided up the spoils, rather than being based on local tribal affiliations.

Uganda does not have a single ethnic group that comprises more than 10% of the overall population. This leads to instability, turmoil and multiple coupe's (Kony belongs to a tribal group that a former president belonged to. His army was founded initially in reaction to persecution following the coupe). During the 90s there were over 40 conflicts at any one time in Africa - some of them the deadliest seen since WW2 (5.4M in Congo 2 - which the Ugandan military started with its invasion).

Most governments resort to corruption and violence to retain positions of power. That includes exploiting minerals and mining on the black market, nationalizing assets, etc. All to get and retain power. There are very few functioning peaceful free market democracies.

There is also a lot to be said about western aid methods (see Dead Aid[1]). Our food programs have been known to destroy local economies. What the WTO would consider dumping (and a trade violation) in the west we call 'aid' in Africa.

Before having an opinion on the Kony campaign, you should know these things:

1. Kony was indicted by the International Criminal Court 7 years ago.

2. He left Uganda around that time. Most of the internal refugees in Uganda have settled back home. Uganda has been relatively peaceful since.

3. The images of children hiding from militias in camps was big news in the west when it happen - back in 2003. There was even a celebrity campaign and congressional lobbying at the time to do something about it. This isn't a 2012 issue.

4. The last US trained mission in 2006 to capture Kony resulted in a months long terror campaign by the LRA that killed hundreds[2]

5. Most local groups, including clergy, oppose a military solution since the remote villages in the region are not adequately protected from retribution [3]

6. the LRA has largely been an ineffective fighting force in the past 7 years, and have only attacked villages while retreating from military campaigns

7. Almost all the local aid groups including doctors without borders oppose a military solution

Knowing this and then watching the Kony campaign video you find that there is a lot that isn't being mentioned, some if it misleading. It has intentionally simplified the situation and problem down to a good guys vs bad guys paradigm - where there is only a single bad guy responsible for all ills (even his soldiers have been kidnapped, it is Kony alone who is evil). Kony is a symptom of a deeper seeded problem and not the solution. This campaign video spends a lot more time talking about Facebook and social media and showing people in the west a lot more than it talks and discusses the problems in the region. Not a single mention of the Congo war (worst in death toll since WW2), nor of the situation in Uganda, and with facts that were true 8 years ago but not today.

The danger here is misleading people into believing that the problems of the region are the responsibility of a single person, and the solution is to capture that one person. The proposed solution is perhaps the worst part - to re-arm and train a military that was partly responsible for the worst war since WW2 and to send more troops into Congo and other nations.

I think the desired solution is the exact opposite - don't make Kony famous, don't give him a means to arm more followers, keep him in the middle of the jungle where he isn't a threat to anybody and ignore him to the point where his message and means are completely ineffective. This is what has been happening since the last US raid and today.

I think this is a good opportunity to get a real message out about Africa. Be it through a film that covers the modern history of the region or a social campaign to back more pragmatic NGO's that don't take sides in conflicts.




nazgulnarsil · 2009-09-27 · Original thread
feed starving man. starving man survives to father 2 children in a region that obviously could not even support him. we've just doubled suffering in our system.

when you pour money into a country and you see no increase in the standard of living because 1: the aid is siphoned off by corruption and used for further violence 2: the population increases up to the new maximal carrying capacity

should you really continue aid?

see also: dead aid

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