By staff writer
Ask me what initiated me to paint this piece. It is the catch talk of the week- Abuse of aid in Ethiopia by the EPRDF regime.
The rigorous interview based investigation that Human Rights Watch did in Ethiopia lightened the shaded realities of aid and its consequences in rhetoric of developmental democracy. Stunningly, two days after the release of HRW’s report, the Development Assistance Group (DAG) comprising 26 bilateral and multilateral development agencies providing assistance to Ethiopia released a statement fully rejecting the report and endorsing the Ethiopian regime.
“We do not concur with the conclusions of the recent HRW report regarding widespread, systematic abuse of development aid in Ethiopia. Our study did not generate any evidence of systematic or widespread distortion. We, nonetheless, recognize that the programmes we support are not immune to the potential for aid misuse and have therefore included safeguard measures to address these risks.’’ DAG said in its statement.
It further added that the DAG Aid Management and Utilization Study concluded that there are generally good accountability mechanisms and safeguards in place that provide checks on possible distortions.
For many, these two conflicting reports were bizarre. Some wondered if both groups have their own hidden agendas.
Having the facts of HRW as they are, if we ask why the DAG group was giving such a statement that highly contradicts the facts on the ground; would lead us to few assumptions: The DAG group is primarily accountable to its funder’s i.e. donor nations, EU countries and US and regional organisations thus being fully political; if the abuse of any donor’s aid/money is reported or found out then those taking the lion’s share of the responsibility and blame are the DAG groups- thus to escape this they have to refute the truth in any way possible; and the fact that they don’t want to lose their jobs and harm the aid business itself worldwide and etc.
The regime in Ethiopia has been documented as a regime that abuses aid for political purposes. This makes the little growth i.e. only happening in the service sector (14% last year), an unjust growth/development occurring within a climate of fear and social injustice.
John Clark in his 1991 book Democratising development says just development calls for an effective partnership of the government and the people, and this is only possible through the achievement of democracy in its broadest sense. For him, the ingredients of just development combine to make the acronym; DEPENDS:
D development of infrastructure
E Economic growth
P Poverty alleviation
N Natural-resource base protection
S Social Justice
Writing about social justice within this same book he says ‘’ for sustainable and trusting partnership between government and the people to be possible ,full human rights must be guaranteed .Social justice also demands the eradication of all forms of discrimination, whether on the grounds of race, creed tribe or sex. A country where social justice is impaired is a country divided .its human assets will not be used to their full potential. Factionalism will lead to wasteful tension and fighting. And all offended parties will resent and perhaps seek to undermine the state.’’
The donor’s community in Ethiopia seems to be hell-bent and quite on the aid abuse issue fearing that the aid business might fully be cut or stopped worldwide thus risking the lives and continuation of some in emergency need and the lucrative businesses of NGOs and their staffs plus the governmental development and aid departments of the developed world.
John Clark says on this issue “a donor can require a certain degree of popular participation and consultation in the design of projects, and withhold funding if these are blocked. Where governments steadfastly refuse to move in the direction of just development, aid could be cut off and diverted to use elsewhere, for example through the country’s NGOs.”
While on the issue of sovereignty Larry Diamond argues ” true sovereignty resides not with the regime in control of the state of a country, but with its people ,and when the people clearly indicate their rejection of the ruling regime ,democratic governments and organisations are justified in offering them assistance to realise their political aspirations. this is not a carte balance for democracies to overthrow regimes they fear or dislike, but rather and argument for popular legitimacy as the fount of sovereignty, and for reading unambiguous signals of the illegitimacy or de legitimisation of an authoritarian regime as due cause for no longer according it the full respect and privileges of sovereignty.”
As Koretn stipulated or as to what the current situation of Ethiopia tells us the basic human right of the people of any country to organise, to access information, to undertake development activities of their own choosing on their own imitative ,to express on policies, to participate in any international exchange and to receive financial and other assistance from foreign and domesticcontributions.
Critically querying and analyzing the reasonings behind the invariable endorsements of donor organisations,nations and their total denial of aid abuse be it in Ethiopia or other developing countries , is unexceptionable.