The Foreign Service Journal - September 2016
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Second, there are about 50 countries

in Africa, with a wide range of differ-

ing characteristics, and it is not wise to

lump them all together. Some, in fact,

have moved ahead nicely—Botswana,

Mauritius, Ghana, Senegal and Cape

Verde come to mind. Others are disap-


Next, the success or failure of aid

should be judged not only on a country

basis, but also in terms of benefits cre-

ated for large groups of the population

even if the country as a whole has not

advanced much.

A classic example is the virtual eradi-

cation of onchocerciasis (river blind-

ness) in much of West and East Africa,

achieved by governments with the help

of foreign aid. Millions of people no lon-

ger go blind, and large swathes of land

that were not utilized are now farmed

and grazed.

Other achievements assisted by aid

include the creation of potable water

systems, the inoculation of millions of

children against diseases, increases in

literacy, the building of farm-to-market

roads and supplying electricity to iso-

lated villages.

Consider also the numerous victims

of conflicts helped with humanitarian


Finally, U.S. bilateral aid is partly

a tool of diplomacy, supporting our

foreign policies. The reason that many

aid programs and projects have failed is

because the policies they support have

failed. Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, the

DRC and South Sudan are examples.

Blame the policies, not the aid.


Raymond Malley

USAID Senior FSO, retired

Hanover, New Hampshire

and McLean, Virginia