Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Dubious foreign aid

Dubious foreign aid
Palo Alto Daily News

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Aug 12, 2008

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Dubious foreign aid

Dear Editor: Things aren't going well for the West in Afghanistan. Besides having to fight the Taliban - who recently blew a hole in a prison there and set 1,100 prisoners free, including 400 of their own fighters - the Western powers are having to take on an even more determined foe: Hunger.

The price of food has skyrocketed, and many poor Afghans can hardly afford to eat. Many are out of work and have no money, and those who do have a little money are already spending up to 70 percent of it on food, so there's a lot of malnutrition and hunger. Six million people, nearly a fifth of the country, receive some sort of food aid, and the ranks of the hungry are growing all the time, to the point that officials are worried that people might rise up and loot the markets.

Afghanistan receives a lot of foreign aid, of course, but a lot of that is aid to foreign aid workers and projects that benefit foreign companies. I'm sure the aid workers who go there are sincere for the most part and really have a heart for the Afghan people, but the countries that send them often count their salaries as foreign aid to Afghanistan, and when those countries want to build something to fill the great need there, they'll buy the materials in their own country from their own companies and ship them to Afghanistan via their own planes - again calling it foreign aid.

It does help the poor Afghans somewhat, but it'd sure help them a lot more if the funds were invested locally.

Ted Rudow III,MA

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