Taxpayer-funded international aid can be critical to help resource-poor countries, especially when facing crisis and situations of war or natural disasters. However, aid is frequently used to pursue foreign policy objectives and support domestic interests, such as those of US agribusinesses in the case of food aid.
International aid is critical to save lives, protect livelihoods, and help reconstruction in communities debilitated by war or natural disasters. It constitutes a critical element of solidarity between peoples, across races, borders, religions, and cultures, contributing towards a more equitable society.
However, while it is generally seen as an instrument of development for the poorest countries, aid is frequently provided by donors in a manner that supports their own economic interests or foreign policy agendas. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) candidly states, “The principal beneficiary of America's foreign assistance programs has always been the United States… Foreign assistance programs have helped create major markets for agricultural goods, created new markets for American industrial exports and meant hundreds of thousands of jobs for Americans.” This pattern is particularly evident in the provision of US food aid when supplied from the US to be shipped overseas often at the expense of local farmers.
International aid may also be conditioned on policy and regulatory changes that recipient governments must undertake. International financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and individual donor countries have a long history of leveraging countries into privatization and market liberalization — typically at the expense of local communities and to the benefit of multinational corporations.
Working with partners around the world, the Oakland Institute monitors and studies international aid practices as well as specific projects. This research guides our advocacy to promote good practices and denounce flaws and wrongdoings.
Collapsed Buildings & Lost Lives in Palu: The Tragic Cost of the World Bank’s #DoingBusiness RankingsTuesday, October 2, 2018
In reading about the tragedy, one detail in particular has haunted me: reports of thousands of buildings collapsing and trapping those inside. This hard fact has stayed with me not just because the thought of being trapped in a collapsed building is absolutely terrifying, but because it unveils the dire impact of the World Bank's pro-business agenda.
Two Blows in a Row: The New Alliance for Food Security Loses GroundThursday, April 12, 2018
Buzzwords like 'business-enabling environment,' which underlie NAFSN discourse and practice, merely support the expansion of large-scale and export-oriented agribusinesses, at the cost of local farmers and biodiversity.
Undemocratic and Unsustainable, the World Bank’s Vision for Agricultural Development Harms the PoorestMonday, October 3, 2016
As the World Bank’s Annual Meetings get underway in Washington, DC, a crucial theme is noticeably missing from its seminar series: agriculture. Does this imply that the Bank has become less involved in agricultural financing? The answer is no. The World Bank is by far the main donor of agriculture, forestry, and fishing sectors in the developing countries, surpassing the United States and other G7 nations. If agriculture is not on the agenda,...
European Union Bankrolls Deceitful Land Project in EthiopiaSaturday, July 30, 2016
The European Union and Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development are funding a €3.8 million ($4.2 million) agricultural initiative in Ethiopia. "Support to Responsible Agricultural Investment" (S2RAI), launched in March 2016, is a three-year long project focused on two western regions of Ethiopia: Gambella and Benishangul-Gumuz. According to documents made public at the project-launching workshop in Bishoftu on July 15-...
With a Little Help from Bill Gates, the World Bank Creates a New Aid ConditionalityWednesday, April 20, 2016
An alluring cast of speakers including the First Lady Michelle Obama, Queen Rania of Jordan, John Kerry, and Ban Ki-moon, among others, spoke at last week’s World Bank Spring Meetings in Washington DC. Bill Gates was the guest star of the Bank’s final live-cast panel discussion, “A New Vision for Financing Development with Bill Gates.”