As my time in Tanzania is coming to an end I thought it might be appropriate to reflect on my time here and how Dambisa Moyo’s book called “Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa” has influenced some of my thoughts. Having now lived in Dar es Salaam for about three months and travelling to other parts of Tanzania such as, Bagamoyo, Arusha, and Zanzibar; I can say Tanzania has a special place in my heart. Yes, it is cheesy but it is with a stronger conviction that I will correct people who will ask, “How was Africa?” when I return home. The picture of ‘Africa’ is more than the ‘poverty porn’ development and aid agencies throw at us in the media, especially during the holiday season. Sadly, when the global community talks about Africa the common elements, which Moyo calls the four horsemen: war, disease, poverty and corruption are always present. Tanzania has been lucky compared to other African countries when it comes to those four horsemen. There has not been civil unrest or a lack of stable government for quite some time and the President John Magufuli has even been nicknamed “the bulldozer” for his fight against corruption. Even though Tanzania may not have economic prosperity it does have its’ own successes but unfortunately, many in the West are unaware of it. Rather than focusing on the four horsemen Moyo argues that we as a global society must look at Africa with a more realistic lens.
The biggest problem Moyo sees with aid is that it disenfranchises Africans. In that, it is absurd you do not hear from African governments as most of their time is spent catering to international organizations and not their people. To illustrate her point, near our residence in Dar es Salaam there are many NGOs and development agencies that have been around for so many years that they are apart of the landscape. Going to breakfast where we stay, we have had the opportunity to meet people from all over the world and it is interesting to learn why they are here. I’d say the majority of the people I have spoken to come to work for a development or aid organization only staying for a few months at a time. It is interesting to also note how very few of them work directly with locals in the community and instead work in offices. Additionally, Tanzania was the largest aid recipient in Sub-Saharan Africa receiving over $26.85 billion in aid between 1990 and 2010 . From the readings I’ve done over the last few months and readings completed through my degree my opinion on aid has changed. There are different types of aid and personally, I do not think aid culture will end anytime soon. Although, I do agree with Moyo that aid has many negative impacts on countries in Africa, it also has positive impacts. If an organization works to build capacity of the community and works with the local people a positive impact is possible. However, I think government-to-government aid is problematic because of the political motivations and agendas that fuel this type of aid.
Overall, Tanzania and Africa as a whole cannot rely on aid forever. African leaders need to step up and take ownership to allow Africa to have a say in its own development. While my time in Tanzania is coming to an end I will continue to pay attention to the future of the country that has given me so much.
BBC’s Country Profile: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-14095776
Magufli’s anti-corruption drive: http://www.dw.com/en/tanzanias-magufuli-leads-fight-against-corruption/a-19252614
Tripp, Aili Mari. Donor Assistance And Political Reform In Tanzania, WIDER Working Paper 2012/037 Helsinki: UNU-WIDER, 2012.