Peacekeeping: What Kills More Africans Than Ebola, Malaria And AIDS?

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October 14, 2014: American military forces are now in Africa trying to develop good will at the local level and train troops to handle counter-terrorism operations. Many of the American troops in Africa have experience doing the same thing in Iraq and Afghanistan. There they ran into serious problems with corruption, especially among local leaders. Afghanistan is more similar to Africa than Iraq because the Afghans are more tribal and less literate than the Iraqis.

Efforts to curb corruption in Africa have been largely unsuccessful. Too many senior Africans consider corruption a right and something worth getting violent in defense of. The result is a lot of ineffective aid programs because there are not enough competent (in terms of training and experience) uncorrupted Africans available to carry out and sustain development projects. This is compounded by the fact that infrastructure (roads, power supply and so on) is generally inadequate to sustain many aid financed improvements. This is especially the case with anything that depends on regular supplies of electricity or outside goods (spare parts or maintenance assistance).

While aid projects in urban areas have less problems with infrastructure, there is always the corruption there to steal money, equipment or anything of value. When you have enough uncorrupt staff to operate an aid project, the results are satisfying. But all too often the corruption and other problems take over as soon as the army (or aid organization) leaves and soon there is little left to even indicate that that there had been a substantial effort to improve the lives of the locals.

The problem with aid programs is that those who authorize them, then get the necessary money and people to implement them tend to underestimate or ignore the obstacles corruption and unqualified (as in illiterate and untrained) locals impose. Literacy and other training programs help, but little has been done about the corruption because this is the most difficult problem aid workers will encounter. Even in situations that are critical to the very survival of the locals, like ones involving water supplies and improved agricultural techniques, are often crippled or delayed by the corruption.

What it all comes down to is that as long as corruption is played down as a problem many, if not most, aid programs will be failures or much less than they could be.

 

 

 


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