Misleading Mail article on Uganda makes it seem as though British aid directly financed the purchase of a presidential aircraft
. It didn't. Britain gave; the president spent; there's no reason to suppose that it's the same money. Otherwise I could claim that Germany (net contributor to EU regional development fund) has been paying for new schools in Northern Ireland (net recipient).
Among the usual comments calling for charity to begin at home, there's one — a mere one — by someone claiming to have been to Uganda, or indeed Africa. And it's full of error and overstatement:
I have travelled extensively in Uganda and know the country and it's people well and to say they struggle to feed themselves is absolute tosh.
Oh yeah? That must be why 73% of children and 50% of pregnant women have iron deficiency anaemia
. Twenty percent of under-fives are moderately or seriously underweight by UNICEF standards.
The country is immensely fertile and even a spanner would grow if planted the right way up.
Parts of the country are fertile, but as Johnny would know from travelling extensively, other parts are arid, there's some savannah, there are concentrations of people in shanty villages around Kampala and in refugee camps on the borders with Rwanda, DRC and Sudan, and a great chunk of the north lives in fear of being kidnapped or having its land and livestock raided by a gang of drugged-up children called the Lord's Resistance Army. Transport links are awful, so some regions have very limited access to food. In addition, this year there has been much less rain than usual.
However, most of the people don't bother to grow their own food because they know the NGOs and foreign aid agencies will feed them and give them tractors etc that they use to drive to town until they break and then they use them as modern art ornaments.
No idea what the fuck that's supposed to be about. The couple I stayed with grew bananas, pineapples and millet, as well as keeping two goats (they couldn't afford a cow) and some chickens, while both working full-time and looking after four children (no nannies in Uganda). They lived on a steep hill on a very modest patch of land and didn't have a tractor; they rode their produce to the market on a bicycle.
All charities, NGOs and foreign aid agencies etc are a complete waste of money designed to make their employees, directors, governments and mad dictators rich and the doners feel like they've achieved something. They rarely, if ever help those in need and that goes for EVERY country in Africa that receives aid not just Uganda.
- Johnny Johnson, ex-pat Brit, Middle of nowhere, somewhere in Africa, 11/6/2011 7:33 Rating 106
Is that doner as in kebab?
Aid agencies have contributed to impressive reductions in HIV transmission, improving primary school enrolment in a country where 36% of children still work, preserving the national parks, increasing access to clean water, and much more. Currently 10% of Ugandans sleep under a mosquito net, yet malaria infects hundreds of thousands a year, and almost half of cases go untreated for lack of access to medicine. Uganda's infant mortality is 14%. It's one of the poorest countries in the world.
So what do you, Johnny Johnson, propose to do to make it better? It's okay, I think I know the answer: fuck all. Well you're out of order. You should think about travelling less extensively (presumably for some ridiculous business) and giving more generously before you and your 106 buddies shoot your mouths off about stuff you obviously know nothing about.