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Aid for Africa
援助非洲

The momentum is building ahead of next month's G8 summit in Scotland where the leaders of the world's richest nations will debate what they can do to help some of the world's poorest. Africa is the priority and the politicians will discuss reducing the debt burden, ending trade regulations which put the continent's economy at a disadvantage, and giving more aid. Mark Doyle, who's reported from Africa for many years, looks at why aid is necessary, and why much of what's been donated in the past has not worked.

All around the edge of Africa -- along the coastline, near the continents' ports -- are monuments to exploitation. On the island of Goree, for example, just off the coast of Senegal, there's the Slave House. This was the last place many Africans saw before being shipped off to a lifetime of slavery in the Americas or, just as often, to death on the high seas.

There are many more places like this dating from the three hundred and fifty years or so of the African slave trade. When people wonder why Africa is so poor, they need look no further for the start of an explanation.

The end of the slavery was followed by a century of colonialism. Some people argue that colonialism brought limited development -- railways and schools and so on -- the system was principally designed to turn Africa into a vast plantation and mining site for the profit of outsiders.

Of course, some Africans gained from this period. Chiefs who sold their enemies to the European or Arab slavers, for example, and coastal people who creamed a little off the colonial trade which flowed through their land. 

But on the whole, for almost half a millennium, the general rule was systematic exploitation.

This must, surely, be the basic reason why Africa is poor. You could add that the climate is punishing, that tropical diseases are rife, and that today's independent African rulers are far from perfect. All true. But these factors, powerful in recent decades, seem marginal when set against to the pattern that was set for centuries. 

The solution, or, at least, the project SOLD as the solution to, has been "aid". Emergency aid, development aid, agricultural aid, economic advice. Billions of dollars worth of it. The problem with this solution is that, patently, it hasn't worked.

On the whole, Africa has got poorer.

The failure hasn't really been the idea of real aid but the misuse of that term. Clearly, if, in the famous phrase, you "teach a man to fish" you're probably helping him.

But most aid hasn't been like that. Most of it has been "top-down" aid, money that's given to African governments (so they in return) do the political bidding of the aid givers. A good proportion of it has been creamed off by the recipient government's officials and another large chunk of it paid back to the so-called "donors" in consultancy fees, salaries-cars--houses-and-servants for aid officials, debt repayments and the purchasing of arms.

During the Cold War, which only ended in the 1990s, most aid to Africa was never REALLY even supposed to help poor people. It was designed to reward client states for supporting or opposing one of the dominant ideologies. This led to inappropriate and sometimes laughable results. There's an apocryphal tale that does the rounds, for example, of the former Soviet Union, in the 1970s, supplying SNOW PLOUGHS to tropical Guinea. To be honest, I don't know if this story is true. But I do know of many cases where so-called food aid has destroyed markets for local farmers by driving down prices.

And yet, to say aid hasn't worked IN THE PAST is not the same thing as saying aid CAN'T work.

Last week, I met some small-scale farmers in southern Zambia. They were skilled farmers, well-organised people who knew what they wanted. What they wanted was water. Their maize was stunted, their citrus fruits were shrivelled and their tobacco leaves were small -- all because of a lack of water.

I spent a whole day with these farmers and they showed me the various wells they had tried to dig on their land. Their lack of water was not for want of backbreaking work in trying to find the stuff. Their wells had either run dry, or not yielded anything at all, because the water table was falling. These were people trapped in poverty; and despite their efforts they didn't have enough resources to pull themselves out of the trap.

On the great scale of things, aid or more precisely the type of aid that's generally been given in the past few decades hasn't worked.

But by the end of the day I spent with those Zambian farmers I was absolutely and totally convinced that a little of the right sort of aid, carefully directed and monitored, would be a lifeline for them.

A few thousand dollars spent on a borehole, a lifeline to the precious water deep underground, would transform those farmers' lives.


参考译文:

下个月在苏格兰举行的八国峰会上,世界上最富有的几个国家的领导人将会讨论他们要做些什么来帮助世界上最穷的国家。非洲是他们帮助的主要对象。政治家们将讨论减少非洲的债务负担,结束那些束缚非洲经济发展的贸易规则,而且要给予非洲更多的援助。马克·多伊勒是一位在非洲工作了多年的记者。他将会探讨为什么一定要给非洲援助,以及为什么以前给予非洲的大部分援助都没有起到作用。

在非洲边缘的一些地方,沿着海岸线上,大陆港口附近矗立着很多关于剥削的纪念碑。比如离塞内加尔海岸线不远处的戈雷就有一个奴隶交易所。这是很多非洲人被运出非洲之前所能看到的最后一个场景。他们很可能一辈子做奴隶,而且经常会在途中死在茫茫的大海里。

还有很多这样的地方,他们可以追溯到大约350年前的非洲奴隶交易。当人们问到非洲为什么会这样穷时,他们不需要听其他的解释。

奴隶制度结束以后,非洲又经历了殖民统治。有些人争辩说,殖民主义还是给非洲带来了非常少量的发展的——比如铁路,学校等等,其实这些主要都是为了让非洲成为一个巨大的种植园和矿区,来满足外人的利益要求。

当然,也有些非洲人则是在这段时间赚了一笔。比如贩卖奴隶到欧洲的人,阿拉伯奴隶贩子,还有那些从盛行的殖民经济中受益的沿海居民。

但是总体来说,五百多年来不变的规则就是剥削。

这肯定是非洲穷困的根本原因。你可能会说,非洲的气候太恶劣,热带疾病猖獗,或者说现在的非洲统治者还远不完美。这些都不错,但是这些原因同几百年来的奴隶问题比起来,都是微不足道的。

解决方案,至少可以说是计划中所被称作的那个解决方案,就是援助。紧急援助,发展援助,农业援助,经济咨询等价值几十亿美元的援助。这个解决办法的问题就是,很明显,不起作用。

总体上讲,非洲是越来越穷了。

援助的失败不是他们的初衷,他们的错误在于没有正确体会帮助的实质。很明显,你如果能像一句老话说的那样,“给人送鱼,不如教给他打渔的方法”,那才能真正地帮助他。

但是援助并不是那样的。大部分援助都是组织严密的。他们给予非洲国家援助,非洲国家则按照他们的意图办事。这些援助中的很大一部分都被非洲国家政府官员贪污了,还有一部分则是以各种各样的形式返回给那些捐助国,比如顾问费,给援助国官员的工资,给他们买房子买车雇佣人等。此外这些援助还用于还债以及购买武器。

九十年代才结束的冷战期间,给予非洲的援助从来就没有真正用于帮助穷人。这些钱都用于给予附庸国以支持或反对某种统治的意识形态。这就造成了一些不合适的,有时候甚至可笑的结果。有一个虚构的故事很能说明问题。七十年代,前苏联曾经向热带几内亚提供除雪机。坦诚地说,我并不知道这件事是不是真的,但是我确实知道在很多地方,食品援助迫使农民降低他们的产品价格,这样就破坏了整个市场。

但是,给非洲国家的援助在过去的时间里没有起到作用并不等于说以后不会起作用。

上星期,我在赞比亚南部遇见了几个小型农场主。他们都是技艺高超,组织得力的农场主,他们知道他们需要的是什么。他们需要的就是水。他们的燕麦矮小,他们的柑橘萎缩,烟叶短小,这些都是因缺水。

我和这些农民在一起待了一整天,他们带我看了他们挖的很多井。缺水的原因不是他们没有付出足够的努力。这些井不是干涸了,就是根本没有出过水,因为地下水位正在下降。他们都是穷人。尽管付出了很多,但是始终没有足够的资金来解除这个困境。

从总体上来说,在过去的几十年中给予非洲的援助——或者确切地说,那些援助没有起到作用。

但是我和赞比亚农民一起度过的那天的晚上,我完全相信了如果那些援助中的一小部分受到了认真的指导和监视,那就肯定会成为这些农民的救命钱。

只要投资几千美元用于地上凿洞——能够得到一个宝贵的地下水的救生索,那么这将会改变那些农民的命运。

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