Monday, September 28, 2009
NGO aid is Worthless
Thinking about what the NGO concentrates on in Third World countries, the conclusion is that try to provide what in normal countries is considered municipal activity. They try to provide clean water, sanitation, better roads, improved housing. The reason they concentrate in this elementary, primary services is because there are no functional municipalities.
But as Richard Feinberg commented in Sao Paulo, when was involved in a USAID water supply project, people lacks no technical knowledge. The "morro" (hill) they were supplying with water was covered by a chaotic network of electricity and telephone cables, water supply pipes and drainage channels. It was naive to think that they had no regular municipal services due to lack of technical knowledge or materials. What they were unable to do is to organize themselves into a regular municipality, with local authority regulation, taxes and government.
Nowadays many NGO's know this truth and are providing "leadership" courses and training, "organization framework" and so on. Once again, the problem is not that these people does not know the techniques of leading and the rules of a co-operative or a local authority. Their problem is that they are emotionally unable to work together in a stable manner within their community.
This same people DID co-operate very well under a colonial rule. One British political adviser used to pacify and rule extense areas in Nigeria, a place I know. In Bauchi, the place exported large quantities of peanuts and was very prosperous. Jos became a mining center. Since these few Englishmen left, the place is a violent chaos. Having known some of the aging colonialist, they were utterly unremarkable people, boring to death and preoccupied with having their tea "just so". Their wives were even more boring, organizing elaborate parties out in the nowhere.
What I am saying is that some kind of colonial regime is necessary to provide a framework that allows these people to co-operate and work together in peace.