On air: “Do starving Africans a favour. Don’t feed them”

_45229746_bbc226bodywash This is what Sam Kiley suggests in his article.

Is the best way of helping Africa … well, not helping it? Or helping in a different way ?
Sam’s article came up last week when we were discussing the famine in Ethiopia,25 years on, and the latest appeals for aid.

So we decided to approach Sam to come on the programme and discuss his theory with you and he’s agreed to come on today.

So you have the rest of the day here to tell us what you’d like to ask him.

Here’s the view from one Kenyan blogger…and a fairly critical article on this left of centre blog, which still concedes:

There is a rational kernel in the idea that corrupt governments recycle much of the available aid on vanity Cathedral construction projects and the upkeep of multiple leggy blonde mistresses dans les arrondissements les plus chic de Paris, even as their heavies kill and rape to rip off their country’s mineral resources. I’d like to see the left stress this rather more than perhaps it historically has done.”

And what does 1984 Ethiopia famine survivor Birhan Woldu birhan wolduthink ?

As well as being demeaning to our dignity, my education has taught me that constantly shipping food is costly, uneconomic, and can encourage dependency.”


86 Responses to “On air: “Do starving Africans a favour. Don’t feed them””

  1. 1 subra
    October 27, 2009 at 11:10

    African starvation is due to two main reasons: 1) bad governance, dictatorship fraud– look at Mugabe, he is still quarrelling with MDC instead of resolving the food problem of the country;
    2) drought- a natural calamity that no one is accountable for.
    Now when we see the ravages caused by the longlasting drought and the crops are destroyed, we can’t accept to watch those walking skeletons searching for some grains without doing anything.
    Many countries have got food surpluses that are wasted or destroyed. Why not keep on feeding those famished African?
    It will be nothing less than callousness on the part of Sam Kiley to refrain from offering food to those unfortunate people. Perhaps he fails to grasp the causes of the lack of food in Africa.

  2. 2 Franziska
    October 27, 2009 at 11:15

    I absolutely think he has a point. The consistent food aid over the past years has created a vicious cycle of dependency, which has left many places in Africa in a situation where there is no more motivation to think for yourself and find your own solutions. All is needed are some tragic pictures, a few phone calls and the food is rolling in. The problem with this “let them fend for themselves” approach, as I see it, is the inhumane tone of the policy, which will put many people off. After all we, the West, do have a moral responsibility to assist with the progress of African countries due to our colonial policies in the past. So how can we wrap this idea into a language that doesn’t sound like we don’t care? How can we push for this without sounding like heartless and greedy Westerners. Also, if we send checks that say “no food” on them, can we really be sure that our money will go towards education instead?

  3. 3 Josiah Soap
    October 27, 2009 at 11:35

    Its a natural biological cycle called a boom-bust cycle. When there are more organisms that a habitat can support they die off. Unfortunately with aid we keep them alive, they have more children, and the problem continues. Mass death is natures way of dealing with the problem. It sounds very insensitive, but aid doesn’t help. They have tried education elsewhere in Africa or free gifts with contraceptives. That doesn’t work either. Western countries now have declining populations, nearly all global population increase comes from the 3rd world. What’s happening in Ethiopia and eslewhere in Africa is the shape of things to come for the rest of the world if we don’t do something. We cannot continue to support such growth – I don’t know what the answer is, – forced sterilization, or let them starve and die. But the rest of the world cannot continue to prop up this continent. I think what we must ask is why has Africa remained so poor, why has not a single country (not even SA) reached western standards of living, despite so much money and help from the West?

  4. 4 vijay pillai
    October 27, 2009 at 12:19

    It is pathetic to suggest not to send food. what these people have done to help africa ortherwise. have these people calling for not to send aid helped africa to grow food and increase export. these are natural calamities needing immediate help. may be one should help so solution to long term help to help themselves but they live in a highy volatile parts of africa wiht famine and war and so on they need perpetual help.
    please dont use the poor girl you rescued and made her world fame and giving education and say look at this girl ,she ia alright.but dont forget millions of ehiopians died in vain in 1984/ 1985 famine and did you foreosaw the clamity and prevent such now?
    there are toom many penpushers these days to spwew out garbage afgter garbage yet the cry for help go unheard untill major clamity arrives.

  5. 5 Lionel Tiger
    October 27, 2009 at 12:29

    The political problems in Africa are the seed of Africa’s problems. Corrupt governments such as the Mugabe regime destroy any means Africa may have developed to sustain itself. Destruction of farms growing food leads to starvation. Cause and effect. Projects such as reservoirs to make more effective use of Africa’s natural resources can only serve the people if there is an effective government that serves the people. Without a Democracy, there is no hope of a government that can serve the people. Governments can help the people of their country and the World can help governments in that task. But to feed people where their government takes from them helps the thief. Get rid of the Bully. It’s the only way to sustainability.

  6. 6 VictorK - London
    October 27, 2009 at 12:31

    *This is a matter of simple economics. Food aid has two consequences: in the short term, it feeds the starving; in the long term, it ensures that they will continue to starve by undermining & even destroying domestic food production, since local farmers will no longer be able to command a price for their produce when food doles are being distributed.
    *To give food aid without trying to mitigate its impact on local food production is to promote famine. To give cash aid is mere imbecility, since everyone knows it will be stolen (as happens to much food aid).
    *If the West (oh, not China, then?) has an obligation to feed Africa then it has a right to rule it too, since incompetent self-government is the permanent root of famine there.

  7. 7 patti in cape coral
    October 27, 2009 at 12:59

    They have a point, and I have to agree, but once again I say if you are face to face with starving people, how could you not feed them?

    • October 27, 2009 at 16:33

      I also agree. In my view, it created dependency. Necessity creates inventiveness. And that’s what we need.

      Now the world / Africa needs a way to break free from that vicious cycle. Somebody started giving food… So who will dare stop giving it?!

  8. 9 scmehta
    October 27, 2009 at 13:43

    And thereafter, you’d say, “Do the diseased poor a favour, don’t medicate them and let them die” or “Do suffering/exploited women and children a favour, don’t protect them” or “Do drought/famine-struck people a favour, don’t send any aid and let them perish”. Why didn’t you say, “Do the political leaders a favour, don’t provide them with any official security in or out of their homes or offices” ?

  9. 10 Nigel
    October 27, 2009 at 13:44

    Do you also propose stopping the dole?

  10. 12 steve
    October 27, 2009 at 14:07

    I really hope this isn’t an indirect way of doing population control. If people are starving, they should be fed, but of course encouraged to become independent of aid. There’s that saying, give a man a fish, feed him for a day. teach him to fish, feed him for life…..

    But one day, the planet will be so overpopulated, that we’re going to have to mandate birth control being used, or even sterilize people, unless you want large wars, killing off lots of people fighting for the few resources that are left..

  11. October 27, 2009 at 14:30

    Sam Kiley writes:

    With education Africans can and will rid themselves of the incompetent and corrupt leaders that we have kept in power …….for decades.

    The West has indeed kept corrupt and dictatorial leaders in power for decades.

    But the way to remove these robber-presidents of the pro-western and the anti-western variety is much simpler than through education – it is through the power of a people’s vote.

    The West is desperately afraid of allowing third world nations to choose the leaders they desire. The West does NOT want fraud-proof election systems to be implemented, and they will assassinate to stop them.

    Mr Alex Weir, Baghdad and Harare

  12. October 27, 2009 at 14:32

    I am by no means an authority of Africa, but I have an uncle who lived there for many years, in SA, toward the end of apartheid and the subsequent transitions of power. I understand that while much of Africa has been in drought for a very long time, there is so much fertile land available, that it could feed the entire continent and have quite a surplus. Why isn’t that land being used? Why aren’t African nations that don’t have these problems of starvation stepping up to help their own? If your people refuse to learn how to farm, or governments are unwilling to do what is necessary, how can anybody outside of that country do anything that really helps? I don’t know the answers, but I really feel like Africans aren’t doing one single thing to help themselves.

  13. 15 Justin in Iowa
    October 27, 2009 at 14:34

    VictorK basically lays out the arguments against blanket aid in general. An African professor taught a class on this subject that I took in college, and he emphasized this point, and it effects things beyond food aid. Donated clothing, and even mass used clothing bought cheap and then shipped to africa for re-sale, always is able to undercut local textile and clothing industry and has the same effect on economic livelihood as food does on food security…

  14. 16 Dan
    October 27, 2009 at 14:39

    Of course you keep feeding the starving Africans but it is time to eliminate the U.N. food programs as clearly after 60 years someone must finally come to the conclusion that the U.N. food program is a complete and unmittigated failure as are the peacekeeping efforts of the U.N. in Africa.
    Now is the time to institute a new program administered by the various Western charities who seem to be fully able to get food directly to the people then followed by Agricultural experts and US Army Corps of Engineers to build dams and reserviors.
    It is time to teach the Africans to feed themselves and build the infrastructure to do so then if they fail we should do no more.

  15. 17 VictorK - London
    October 27, 2009 at 14:40

    @Alex Weir: is there a shred of evidence for what you wrote re ‘the West’? Isn’t the truth that most Westerners are sick and tired of Africa and Africans and would gladly wash their hands of the continent and its people, and that Africa’s problems, famine included, all have the same explanation: Africans and their choices.

  16. 18 Sade
    October 27, 2009 at 14:43

    My question is: why do we feed them?

    We don’t seem to care much if they, and others, die from collateral damage in war.

    So, what is the real reason for aid?

    • 19 Tom K in Mpls
      October 27, 2009 at 15:52

      It makes some people ‘feel good’ to help in any way. Even if it is the wrong way.

    • 20 Dennis Junior
      October 27, 2009 at 17:12

      The theory is that they could died from starvation of the international community doesn’t feed the starving Africans….

      =Dennis Junior=

  17. October 27, 2009 at 14:47

    this a foolish suggestion that will lead to catastrphe of millionafricans dying without any food ..please dont experiment with this poor .try to help them by aid and scientific means thus cleansing their political climate first?

  18. 22 Ivan Mark Radhakrishnan
    October 27, 2009 at 14:51

    Today in Malawi the screaming headlines are Madonna is building a US$14,5 million Academy for Girls in Malawi – Fantastic! But that is one School catering for ‘x’ number of students. The incentive for the Qualified Teacher to step out on their own, get some finance together and begin their own school has just been murdered!

    I am not faulting Madonna but sometimes a hundred schools are better than one institution which turns out snooty kids! Mr Sam Kiley may have a point (I have not yet read his column). You cannot continue feeding us forever. Some of the ‘food’ might just be a bit toxic to our system!

    I am still trying to figure out how with an increasing AIDS problem populations are still increasing! Is that because some body else will assume the feeding of children whose parents – sometimes irresponsible – have passed on?

    Sam Kiley may have a point!

  19. October 27, 2009 at 14:55

    Keeping on feeding develops dependency.People of the Nation must get rid of self seeking corupt leaders and usher in new government.Though difficult and time consuming,it is the only way from the morass they have sunk into.

  20. 24 Dennis Junior
    October 27, 2009 at 14:59

    Sounds (a) tad bit harsh and cruel ….What is next???

    =Dennis Junior=

  21. 26 Robert
    October 27, 2009 at 15:03

    It is not all or nothing. We shouldn’t stop sending food if that is needed at this moment in time. But long term solutions need to be investing in to allow food to be grown locally for future generations. Some of this is direct investment in farms. Some is in infrastructure like roads, and some is opening up trade.

    I live in Angola and find it amazing that such a large country with a small population has to import nearly all of its food from South Africa or Portugal. Over the last few years I have seen more and more local produce appearing the supermarkets (fresh milk as a recent addition) so I think there is a future.

  22. 27 Michel Norman
    October 27, 2009 at 15:05

    60+ years ago there were tens of millions of Indian and Pakistani refugees, tens of millions of German refugees and homeless people – Israel with 600,000 people, devastated by the war launched against it housed and settled something like 1 million refugees – none of these countries got sustained food aid if at all and all have solved their refugee problems. Compare that with the professional Palestinian “refugees” and the continuous problems in Africa which go back decades and the obvious answer is that food aid may be a plaster but it actually exacerbates the problem. The cold truth is that certain areas of the world can only support so many people, and by giving medical and food aid we are artificially expanding populations beypnd what the land can support. It just does not work.

  23. 28 Gary Paudler
    October 27, 2009 at 15:09

    I read Kiley’s article as well as Dambisa Moyo’s “Dead Aid” and George Ayittey’s much more nuanced and comprehensive “Africa Unchained”. Much of the argument against aid (and yes, more narrowly, food aid) is that we’ve been doing it for so long and look what a mess Africa is so it must not work, and that it just feeds corruption, as if African despots invented corruption. Much aid from the West, and Asia as well, comes with corruption. that is, if the donor nation didn’t benefit from corruption, if corruption wasn’t a dominant component of the aid, then no aid would be offered, or often, forcefully imposed. Kiley implies that if food aid was cut, corrupt and inept governments would be forced to provide for their people. We in the West are hard-pressed to inform ourselves about our political candidates; how many election cycles will it take Africans (as if that is an adequate designator for the people of over 50 countries) to become effective and wise in the ways of democracy? Is it Kiley’s unspoken admonishment to allow many millions of people to die as a necessary lesson in “tough love”? Aid to Africa needs to be comprehensively re-thought and freed from the politics of both the donor and the recipient but if we end it we can only do so with the clear knowledge that we are allowing millions to die in the hope – far from certainty – that future lives will be improved.

  24. October 27, 2009 at 15:09

    Yes we must find more practical, sustainable and mutually beneficial options other than food aid… but we must only substitute aid with that better alternative – we can’t stop food aid in order to think about alternatives… that will be similar to removing American soldiers from Afghanistan while an option is being examined.

    I don’t see famine as an African problem per se; it is a global problem that uses Africa as a postal address – simple; so leaving it un-solved will lead to worse problems, take piracy for example.

  25. 30 T
    October 27, 2009 at 15:13

    Kiley’s missing a very important point. The States and other countries who send aid (both food and money) use that as leverage to try and get control over that country’s infrastructure. Then, vulture capitalists from these Western countries buy back the poor countries’ debt, and make a killing. How come he didn’t talk about THAT?

  26. 32 maina
    October 27, 2009 at 15:21

    many of the so called African leaders have vast portions of property in the west, as opposed to using western tax dollars to feed starving Africans, how about the west confiscates this ill gotten wealth & uses those funds instead, I suspect that wealth would not only be enough to feed Africa’s starving people but would also dwarf any pledges the international community might make to the same cause.

  27. 33 John in Salem
    October 27, 2009 at 15:25

    So I can presume that Mr. Kiley is going to go there on our behalf, look these people in the face and say, “Sorry, guys. We’re going to let you and your children starve to death. It’s for your own good”?
    It’s a safe bet he’s never been more than a day or two without food and has no concept of how agonizing it is to die of starvation.
    I don’t care how much intellectual merit his solution has – it only works if you don’t have to see the result. Unless he is willing to personally share in the suffering it would cause he has no business making the suggestion.

  28. 34 Mike in Seattle
    October 27, 2009 at 15:35

    How much of the aid is shipped from international sources, and how much is brought in regionally? Is it a common case that local farmers are put out of business due to aid, or do droughts and corrupt governments take care of that? How do subsidies to first world farmers affect this situation?

  29. 35 Violet Barasa( aKenyan studying in the UK)
    October 27, 2009 at 15:39

    As an African who probably have some grounded knowledge on my continent’s agricultural systems of food production, I would never think that drip-feeding starving Africans really helps. Of course i have always argued that aid is a sheer perpetuation of dependency modes aimed at keeping Africa at the periphery of the development circle while sustainning the West right at the centre of it!
    Africa, for all of u who may not be aware, has enough food resources( am talking about indigeneous food crops which Africans lived on before the Millenium) to feed its people and maintain a significant surplus! No one would starve in Africa if the West and it’s apparent urgency to’ rush to Africa and save lives’ wasn,t there.
    The mere fact that development is lensed through Western modes of ‘junk food’ deep-fries and processed eateries has eroded the desire for Africa to stick to what its soil can best produce and what it’s people can best feed on, hence the end result is food under-production and massive starvation..aid agencies win all over again! They rush to bring food aid to allievate starvation!

  30. October 27, 2009 at 15:48

    It seems to me that Sam Kiley is proposing the Darwinian theory of survival of the fittest,which is correct,if you are totally unfeeling. Humanity,however,sees things a little differently. You could not educate Africa in a month,but you could certainly starve it. In the mean time? Food aid,or a book on grow you own! Sam sounds well fed,and if your belly is full your not hungry.

    • 37 Josiah Soap
      October 27, 2009 at 16:25

      If Africans were starving at a natural population level then it is one thing, but hey are breeding out of control and eating themselves out of house and home. 30 years of family planning education and free contraceptives don’t seem to have helped a lot. It appears to be cultural to have large families because when Africans emigrate to western countries they still have large families. People are starving because there are too many for the land to support. I would agree we cannot just let them die. How about swapping food for sterilization of them and their kids. Twenty years of this would alleviate the problem of over population.

  31. 38 Gary Paudler
    October 27, 2009 at 15:52

    Any discussion around this issue doesn’t get far before encountering Dambisa Moyo’s book “Dead Aid”, here is an excellent review which does a good job of addressing Kiley’s points:
    Kiley’s prescription for Africa in the absence of aid is pretty thin; Moyo’s is simplistic, and, I believe, no less destructive than the worst of traditional aid. Yet one more alumnus of Goldman Sachs, the only aid that Moyo likes is Cool-Aid; she says that within the 5-year transition from aid dependency, African nations can access capital markets, presumably like unsophisticated American home-owners and hyper-sophisticated investment banks. Having drunk the Cool-Aid, those governments will have traded their vast resources – mineral, biological, human – for ever-increasing debt obligations. Her essential argument seems to be; why give something to a starving person when you can rent it at a profit.
    Westerners seem to find African corruption particularly galling and almost enough reason, in itself, to end aid but it must be acknowledged that without aid, corrupt politicians and strongmen would still dominate and exploit extraction of Africa’s vast resources at the expense of its desperate people.

  32. 39 Chedondo, Johannesburg
    October 27, 2009 at 15:53

    If the world wants to help Africa there are three things to do (or not to do)

    a) Don’t sell us any more weapons – we have enough to fight for 30 years.

    b) Don’t allow our dictators to open accounts with your banks and do not allow them to buy any assets in your countries. Close any accounts that they already have and transfer the proceeds to national accounts at the World Bank, one for each Country. Use the money to buy food and send it to Africa – this won’t be aid. Use the remainder for c) below.

    c) Help us educate our children. Starting with Ethiopia, perhaps a program of Agricultural Economics and Egineering. And Health, of course.

    I wonder how many countries will have a problem with a) and b)?

    This is probably too simplistic but we don’t seem to have gone very far with never-ending food aid, so lets try something else.

    • October 27, 2009 at 16:48

      This is a very well thought out and intelligent response, however, America HAS for decades continued to educate your fellow countrymen on exactly that, and my uncle was a part of that in your very area for over a decade. We have taught farming, agriculture and given the tools necessary to begin your own farms. DID IT HELP? No, the education has obviously been ignored. My uncle and his family finally had to leave SA because of the growing violence against westerners there to help, and with daily death threats and attempts by the very people that he was there to help, with the fact that this was and is a rampant problem not just his sole experience, speaks volumes about what Africans are going to do with that proposed education. As the old saying goes, you can lead a horse to the water….

    • 41 patti in cape coral
      October 27, 2009 at 17:16

      Wow, Chedondo, I really like your plan, I only wish someone with the power to implement this was reading this blog right now. As someone else on the blog said, however, the aid doesn’t have to stop completely, maybe it could be weaned off as the situation improves?

    • October 27, 2009 at 19:38

      This is the best reply yet. After all, as Josiah Soap said earlier, ” I think what we must ask is why has Africa remained so poor, why has not a single country (not even SA) reached western standards of living, despite so much money and help from the West?” Your solution was the best, and I totally agree with you regarding numbers 1 and 2.

  33. 43 Tom K in Mpls
    October 27, 2009 at 16:20

    Okay, I’ll say it again. the only way African nations ( any nation really ) will succeed is to:

    First have a stable and accountable government ( any style )to
    Second: develop an infrastructure ( roads, schools, power ) to support
    Third: A broad based economy.

    It needs to start with a focus on the government, but quickly you will see each part help the others.

  34. 44 Peter_scliu
    October 27, 2009 at 16:26

    It is a crime against humanity to let people starve.
    So who should take responsibility for the crime.
    The leaders and the rich people in their community.
    The people who caused the calamity.
    The world community who refused to feed them.
    For the sake of humanity the world court must take action instead of pursuing politically motivated bases.

  35. 45 Bert
    October 27, 2009 at 16:37

    As my mom has said more than once, every person alive on this planet has seen pictures of starving Africans for as long as they have lived. So clearly, there’s something chronically wrong that Africans aren’t addressing.

    I don’t buy the drought argument, really. In the sense that droughts will always exist, but not everywhere at the same time. Reasonable government policies are supposed to take transitional problems like that into account. It is incenceivable, totally, that such a huge continent as Africa has to depend on the West to overcome its occasional localized droughts.

    And too, if a partcular country has more frequent droughts, they would need to design around that, as Israel has done. It takes pro-active effort, of course. There has to be SOME point when the excuse ceases to be, “we are too poor.” Doesn’t there?

    October 27, 2009 at 16:45

    It isn’t wise to starve people who are desperate. On the other hand, I respect all who have something to talk about this situation. some from frustration, others from empathy. It is a good debate and everyone is nearly right.
    It’s hard enough for some of us in Africa to understand what has gone wrong and surely something is out of joint. Corruption? Right. Bad policies by our African governments and donor institutions. Bad market policies locally and overseas. All these alongside bad politics by the small and the mighty who have entrenched the idea that, what matters in life is connections rather than what is just. This attitude need to be reversed completely. Africa does not lack capacity. what it lacks is the right points which should be addressed on a long term basis instead of the short term ones that don’t attack the root causes.

    October 27, 2009 at 16:57

    Population increase is a concern in Africa but it is not the primary cause. The real problem of the African population is ignorance due to mundane educational standards and lack of mordern skills to deal with localized problems. This has not been helped by learning of skills that have no home relevance. Most students do not want degrees in agriculture and such careers that are relevant to their home countries. They want to learn something more vogue that will ensure them for an opportunity overseas. So much IT related courses as if one can go and teach the Chinese how to farbricate a cheap computer.

  38. 48 Samdromeda
    October 27, 2009 at 17:04

    The key to militarization is a hungry army or a hungry banking system for the profits of conquest and the resulting exploitation of natural resources. The people are a momentary inconvenience. A well fed enemy will not soon attack you. Didn’t Christ say “If your enemy is hungry, feed him.” Should the roles be reversed I would hope that they would feed us.

  39. 49 Alan in Arizona
    October 27, 2009 at 17:15

    We need to Feed them and Teach them. But only for so long! Take any control the governments want and let the NGO’s help with food and help with sustained self dependence by teaching better farming skills and the building of alternative farming technologies and techniques best suited for the environment. Once better methods are used to control natural agriculture disasters they can be self supporting. If they can’t over come nature then maybe it’s best if nature over comes them!

  40. 50 Elias
    October 27, 2009 at 17:25

    Anyone starving should be most defenitely fed. Most money donated to governments for the purpose of feeding the needed is usually appropriated by officials in goverment and poured down a black hole.
    The huge amounts that are donated would be better spent by sending experts to the areas most in need of help. These experts cand find ways to show the native population how to grow the foods they need and supply essentials for this purpose so that some sort of structure can be established for their future needs.
    To see on TV, read and hear of the misery of people starving to death is in itself the lowest point of a civilised world. Before we spend good money in outer space and the like, we should first get our basic priorities right, for life is to live and help those people so that they dont starve to death. Can one immagine seeing a starving man woman or child near death and watch at the same time the many barbaric wars all over the world, also the rocket flights in outer space and feel nothing about the poor and destitute, is like putting the cart before the horse.

  41. 51 Samdromeda
    October 27, 2009 at 17:26

    It is interesting that in the West we are not taught how to address cause and effect. We are not taught how to live or why things happen. But we are taught how to maximize gains no matter what the cause. We have a reputation for exploiting the resources of nations and shoving the indiginous peoples aside. This is having a compounded effect as emerging economies like Chine search for resources on a global scale. Farms have been maintained from generation to generation. Through the banks and military conquest farmers are loosing their land. A crop not planted equals people not being fed. People cannot eat power and they sure cannot eat bullets.

  42. 52 Tracy in Portland, OR
    October 27, 2009 at 17:33

    Kiley is right. We deal with the food crisis the same way we deal with health issues. Take a pill for the symptom but ignore the disease. If instead of just sending food when the first Africa food crisis hit, if we had sent food and helped build infrastructure we wouldn’t face this now. But it has grown big, bad and ugly now. The countries we send aid to are going to keep comming back with there hand out every time there is an issue. Like a coddled child, now an adult that never was taught to stand on their own. It will be exponentially harder to fix now. Why should these governments take responsibility we have always bailed them out before?

    Tracy in Portland, OR

  43. 53 subra
    October 27, 2009 at 17:37

    Everybody knows who the dictators are and what they are doing to multiply the innocent people’s miseries but the same bloodthirsty despots are given redcarpet welcome. Mugabe was given the UN rostrum for delivering a much listened speech and the world leaders applauded him. Why not detain him and judge him for the crimes he has committed against his own compatriots. Or why the US not send a missile to seek him out of his rat hole from where he is causing the people so much harm. This is what should be done to resolve the thorny problems of Africa; locate all those merciless despots and send each one a missile instead of killing innocent children elsewhere with the drone.

  44. 54 Tom K in Mpls
    October 27, 2009 at 17:37

    Here is another thought. Consider the sources of the original comments and listen to the reasons they want this and you will see one thing. They are asking the world to quit undermining the power of capitalism in their economies! Throwing money, or in this case food, at the problem undermines the growth of viable local businesses. Western leaders should have realized this almost a year ago.

  45. 55 Denise in Chicago
    October 27, 2009 at 17:57

    I cannot support allowing people to starve. However, why not tie the aid to a committment by that country’s government that some of the funds must be earmarked for growth, whether it be training people in farming or providing educational opportunities for their citizens. Simply providing aid year after year will do nothing to end this dismal cycle.

  46. 56 Dan
    October 27, 2009 at 17:58

    Hungry people become desperate. Desperate people do desperate things. This is what al-Queda is taking advantage of.
    The U.N. programs have been a failure.
    We need to first feed the Africans then teach them how to feed themselves and if the various Governments cannot stop the infighting and murdering of their own people, we need to re-colonialize Africa again.

  47. 57 Samdromeda
    October 27, 2009 at 17:58

    Chedondo’s approach works with a world government strong enough to enforce it with the compassion of a father.

  48. 58 James Turner
    October 27, 2009 at 18:06

    I saw one comment on here. “He has a point” It’s more than that, it is the truth. THE WORLD HAS IGNORED AFRICA! Why even pretend to care? That is the question that baffles me the most!!!! Who are we trying to convince GOD! Only a God less world would waste as much human life in Afghanistan and Iraq and waste time and money flying around the universe, pretending to look for life on other planets. For what? So we can kill everything on it, like we are doing here. How could we explain this mess to another being? We have almost completely ignore Africa and other third world countries down through time………… If we spent half the efford doing something good in the world as we spent destroying it, how great could we have been? Good luck getting anyones attention!

    October 27, 2009 at 18:16

    Talking about wrong priorities, I remember hiking in another part of Eastern Kenya. The area is no good for stapple food that the inhabitants were growing due to persistent draught. Allong the raod all the while were bunches of happily growing bunches of wild sisal plants that required no ones fertilizer or attention. All the while my local companion talked about how they never harvested anything in the last 5 consequitive years and the sisal was still there listening unable to call for attention.
    What I could not understand is why there was no sisal processing industry in the area. Instead of that, what you tend to see in such regions is countless masses of emaciated inhabitants in pursuit of growing maize and beans that had no chance against a thirsty earth.
    There is enough market for sisal products in the world and these people wallowing in poverty could supply required labor. In turn they can use the proceeds to purhase stapple food from the wet regions. Concern ministries are blind and dumb about it.

  50. 60 Shannon in Ohio
    October 27, 2009 at 18:41

    I continue to give to NGOs that focus on African development. Many Africans continue to lack education. Many Africans continue to starve. I feel quite helpless. I feel, at times, quite angry. Why can’t the world figure this out?

  51. 61 Bardly Geek
    October 27, 2009 at 18:48

    The guy who makes his living in the food-aid business clearly has a vested interest.
    We wouldn’t expect to convince him.

    Given the mathematical certainty that population growth will stop eventually,
    what more compelling case can be made for stopping ASAP
    than present lack of resources?

    The drought should be no big surprise.
    If the region won’t reliably support the current population,
    let’s get started on drastic changes.

  52. 62 Simon
    October 27, 2009 at 19:07

    I hate the culture in Kenya of expecting hand outs, whether from passing tourists or from Governments. But when you look into the eyes of someone who is on the edge of starvation who would withhold food?

    What needs to be done is a real, concerted effort to stamp out corruption, that is killing people.

  53. 63 Tom Rizzo
    October 27, 2009 at 19:11

    People are born into this world into circumstances beyond their control. Each life saved by humanitarian intervention is potentially a world-altering event. You cannot hope to address the issue of corruption and poor governance by sparking a die-off of vulnerable people. How about a program to prevent use of nuclear weapons by rounding up all Caucasian males, since they were the only ones who have decided to use them?

  54. 64 Jasmine, Singapore
    October 27, 2009 at 19:18

    If we want to help Africa, the rich countries need to be consistent and not hypocrites. There is no point giving food to these poor countries if their resources are exploited and their peoples excluded, forgotten and stereotyped from positive investment.

    There’s a limit to how much we can help. You can’t change the tribal mentality that tolerates corruption and nepotism.

  55. 65 Tom K in Mpls
    October 27, 2009 at 19:25

    How can you develop an economy when you give away money? Throwing money at an economic issue weakens the businesses that are successful. Let the farmers and markets grow.

  56. 66 Ameen al qasim
    October 27, 2009 at 19:41

    Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, give a man a fishing rod and he will eat for a year

    • 67 Peter in UK
      October 27, 2009 at 21:09

      Only in Africa its give a man a fishing rod and corrupt government officials will steal it and stash it somewhere for their own use. OR the man who gets the fishing rod won’t have access to line or hooks to be able to use it effecitvely.

  57. 68 Tom K in Mpls
    October 27, 2009 at 19:47

    As Fareedoone said on the other topic: We cannot hope for the international community to save us.

  58. October 27, 2009 at 19:49

    I have never heard so much callousness. Why do you want to punish the people at the bottom of the pile,when it is the people at top need hauling over the coals,preferably hot ones.

  59. 70 michael1950
    October 27, 2009 at 21:28

    There is also another aspect of the problem: birth control. If the rate of the growth of population is constantly above the rate of economic development, a country will never be able to overcome its permanent difficulties.

  60. 71 JanB
    October 28, 2009 at 05:27

    I agree with the author in principle, but in practice it’s not that simple: his theory assumes ordinary Africans have the means and the know how to rebel in an organised manner that benefits all, once their situation gets dire enough, but that’s simply not true. They are too divided along tribal lines so even if a bad government is overthrown the new government will always make sure its tribe is doing well, meanwhile forgetting about the rest, until another tribe comes to power and so on…

    So cutting back emergency aid will only help if A) there’s a strong enough opposition movement to topple the current government (or if the donor state is prepared to assist with such a coup) and B) if the new elite is competent and has enough feeling of citizenship to bury tribal preferences.

    Anyway, I’m in favor of putting all development aids towards only disaster relief and military backed peacekeeping missions (so the soldiers and advisors can keep a close eye on the aid money.)
    Corruption by local officials should be undone immediately after the advisors notice money has gone missing, or else the aid will be stopped.

    October 28, 2009 at 08:29

    It’s funny because most of these comments are right in their own ways. Stopping food aid to Africa can both help and do harm. Food aid stimulates laziness in alot of us Africans, but there are those vulnerable children languishing in poverty that really need this food aid. Overall Africa needs to be independent and fend for itself. How long will this food aid go on? Definitely not forever because one way or the other the western worlds will get fed up one day and what will happen next? Alot of us Africans suffer from inferiority complex, we think that its only the white man that can do it for us. The responsibility also lies on the African governments that are not doing enough to empower their own people. GOD SAVE AFRICA!

  62. October 28, 2009 at 10:49

    We at the Genius Circle have new technology that can solve the drought and famine problems of the world without any CO2 pollution. All we need is someone to listen.

    The children of the world are everybodies responsibility. We should not only feed them we should provide the technology necessary to ensure these seasonal disasters are avoided.

    The Genius Circle is currently working with the Visayan district of the Philippines to put in a disaster warning system

    Tony Palfrey
    The Genius Circle
    Twitter @environmentmad

  63. 74 Jim L.
    October 28, 2009 at 12:22

    Decades of charity doesn´t help anyone – only alleviates the conscience of the giver. Africans need to learn to stand on their own feet, feed themselves and live within the resources of the land. I´m sure that they are quite capable of getting rid of their corrupt leaders and having smaller families – if the distorting influence of western interference was stopped.

    Western colonialism has moved away from the political, but kept the economic, which in many ways is far worse. This is what the ONGs should be campaigning to stop – not giving food. That helps no one.

  64. 75 Emmanuel Uchir
    October 28, 2009 at 13:38

    60% of world’s raw material is supplied by Africa. What we need is an encouragement to enable us look inward. We have the fertile land to grow our food. All we need are good leaders who will give the direction and inspiration.

  65. 76 Moon Kiban
    October 28, 2009 at 14:24

    The logical extension to this argument would then be; are aid agencies, and other forms of African relief, guilty of acting against Africa’s long term interests?

  66. 77 Al Mathes
    October 28, 2009 at 14:25

    It is not only education that it is needed. Industrialized nations need to send in hands on construction and infrastructure professionals to get these countires to be more self-reliant. But first, there is a more basic need to rid the countries of corrupt & brutal dictators. Till we find the answer to that, aid in whatever manner is nothing more than a very temporary band-aid and always will be.

  67. 78 Tom Billesley
    October 28, 2009 at 17:39

    Where there is a camp of refugees in starvation, simply shovel dollar bills out of a helicopter over the camp. The recipients can buy food from local producers so the aid won’t kill the local economy. Also, it neatly circumvents the corrupt diversion of aid funds to the president/dictator’s overseas bank accounts.

  68. 79 Alexis Massey-Ryan
    October 29, 2009 at 19:25

    To be honest this has been a long time coming and it is indeed the solution as many people have pointed out so far. It will drive Africans to source their own food properly, it will highlight how the various dictators and warlords have not been providing so although it will cause strife in the short term it will be better for everyone in the long-term.

    Pity it took the West questioning whether they could provide continuous aid to figure it out…

  69. 80 Fe
    October 30, 2009 at 08:24

    I’m enamoured with articles like the one that Sam Kiley has written.

    Whilst this might not be ‘politically correct’, the facts speak for themselves. GDP of countries that have been gifted with the benefits of our attention and so called best wishes are more often than not worse off after a cycle of dependency has been formed.

    The first things that come to mind when most people think “africa” is – famine, aid and war. I think something different – resources, land, population, etc. For a continent that is swelling in untapped resources, the charity minded population are not doing them any favours by handing out more money and more food. Why are we helping them build schools and hospitals when they can build them for themselves, surely our volunteering is devaluing the activities that would have generated poor populations from being paid and learning/using skills that would allow them to start industries and businesses in which to thrive.

    I am overwhelmed with appeals for money and time, “just 2 ponds a month”, the snapping of fingers and tacky plastic bands, its a constant droning that is easy to ignore. Its not my job to finance saving the rest of the world through taxation and voluntary donations.

    The rest of the world needs to learn to pick itself up after it falls.

  70. 81 David
    October 30, 2009 at 16:38

    Do starving Africans a favour “Dont feed them” leaves a very sour taste in me.

    It is bad governance and corruption by African leaders, loans with strings attached, caveats, and threats from the west are just a few examples of African people’s frustration and suffering.

  71. 82 paul8222
    October 30, 2009 at 17:01

    Hi Sam,

    What an instructive article, I shall save it and ponder much on it.

    One wonders if much lies at the door of corrupt & incompetent regimes.


    Paul Ellis.

  72. 83 Tonja
    November 3, 2009 at 01:03

    Some of you might find the book “Say You’re One of Them” by Uwem Akpan insightful into this topic. It is a compilation of various stories written by African children about their lives. It’s terrible the way they live. It’s terrible that they are starving literally to death. I think it’s sad, too, that some of us are so arrogant and self-serving to even consider the possibility of NOT helping them. We are all human. We all share a commonality. We all need help from time to time — especially those who don’t have the luxury of living in the U.S. Where is the love? We should all open our hearts to each other. Would you want someone to feed you if you were starving? — or would that just be a meaningless handout?

  73. 84 Antowan Jones
    November 6, 2009 at 17:08

    This is a touchy subject, me being a african american male but i feel my people should be educated on the land and possibly be given seeds so they can grow their own food.

  74. 85 Fei Qiang
    November 10, 2009 at 04:11

    Interesting discussion.
    Based on my years in Sierra Leone any aid in the form of cash is stolen directly and promptly by the officers of the Min of Finance and their ghostly cohorts.
    The entire country seems to have forgotten how to feed itself – there has been no effort to reestablish the thriving pre-fighting rice industry and capitalists are much more interested in mobile phone profits than investing in agriculture.

  75. 86 Guruprasad P
    November 19, 2009 at 04:22

    There should not be any iota of doubt about feeding famine stricken poor Africans.

    There should also be plans to make them how to be self reliant not dependent.
    Helping them to install a responsible democratic Government with visions of basic
    literacy to its citizens and emphasis on Agriculture to produce its own food needs
    will be the right solution.

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