Many western nations and nongovernmental organizations pure millions of dollars into Africa for different aid activities: from combating diseases to conducting elections.
This is the most popular model to helping Africa. To African leaders, nothing could be better since the cash is made available to them to squander and steal. Why all these activities are noble, they are shallow and are merely operational in nature. They make these nations feel good, but its cost-to-benefit is high.
It is ineffective! These aid organizations rarely think strategically for Africa despite years of experiences in the continent.
From the perspectives of AFRIT, a non-profit, what Africa needs now is a coordinated effort to develop the knowledge base in the continent. If the aid agencies focus on education, many of the problems they try to solve could actually be prevented.
Instead of managing vicious cycle of crises, Africa will emerge as a virtuoso continent that is rich on ideas with abilities to solve its problems. Why focus on fighting cholera without a plan to help kids enroll in schools where they will learn about hygiene which can potentially prevent cholera.
Seasonal crises management from western and local aid agencies and NGO will not solve Africa’s problems until education is strengthened in the continent. For us at AFRIT, we believe that is the model that makes sense and is sustainable.
Irrespective of the feelings of westerners, only Africans will solve their problems. It is an illusion to think that Europeans and Americans will solve Africa’s problems.
What they can do is to help a new generation of Africans to get educated. Unfortunately, the aid models do not have that variable. And that is the major problem.
You cannot eradicate malaria or polio without informing people through education about what enables those diseases to ravage the communities. By focusing on the effects without the root cause, aid agencies will continue to waste their precious times in Africa achieving cyclical successes that are not durable.
Imagine if Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation decides to train all boys and girls in Mali through High School. Right in elementary school, their teachers will teach them basic lessons on health.
The girls will learn about sanitation and within a generation, the society will be well educated to think about its environment, making informed decisions that will make polio, cholera, etc to exist only in museums.
That would be a more effective work than direct effort to eliminate malaria or whatever. What will happen in the present model is that when the money finishes, the disease will return because the community has not learned anything to change habits and prevent the root cause.
Ford Foundation has been in the continent for decades managing crises, but never eliminating crises through education (we mean having mass effect).
In summary, we need aid agencies to help eliminate or prevent crises by helping to solve the major cause of all these problems: education. Tell the aid agencies in your communities to do the right thing and help get kids to school.
Author: African Institution of Technology