International Aid

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.

The Facts

International aid, consisting of resources supplied by one country to another, is critical to save lives, protect livelihoods, and finance reconstruction in communities wracked by war or natural disasters. While it is generally seen as an instrument of development for the poorest countries, wealthy donor nations also frequently provide aid in a manner that economically supports their own domestic industries or their foreign policy agendas.

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 USAID sells US wheat reserves on behalf of aid recipients and in turn asks recipients to purchase select commodities from US producers, this effectively subsidizes US farmers and undermines food producers in recipient countries.

What we are doing about it

Working with partner groups around the world, the Oakland Institute is monitoring, researching, and evaluating the practice and impact of international aid on developing countries. We are a research center, information clearinghouse, and early warning system for activists, policy makers, educators, journalists, and the general public. We believe increased awareness about the reality of international aid will lead to aid programs and policies that truly benefit local communities.

Publications

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Miracle or Mirage? Manufacturing Hunger and Poverty in Ethiopia

As months of protest and civil unrest hurl Ethiopia into a severe political crisis, a new report from the Oakland Institute debunks the myth that the country is the new “African Lion.” Miracle or Mirage? Manufacturing Hunger and Poverty in Ethiopia exposes how authoritarian development schemes have perpetuated cycles of poverty, food insecurity, and marginalized the country’s most vulnerable citizens. A key government objective...

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The Unholy Alliance, Five Western Donors Shape a Pro-Corporate Agenda for African Agriculture

The Unholy Alliance, Five Western Donors Shape a Pro-Corporate Agenda for African Agriculture, exposes how a coalition of four donor countries and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is shaping a pro-business environment in the agricultural sector of developing countries, especially in Africa.

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The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Bill Gates' Big Money Attempts to Rule African Agriculture The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) has become a major player in international aid for agriculture. In 2015 alone, the Foundation distributed over $450 million in grants for agricultural development globally. The BMGF is best known for using its money to push for an agricultural "Green Revolution" in Africa, based on the use of synthetic fertilizers and patented seeds. This...

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UK Department for International Development

UK Aid Poised to Wipe Out Smallholder Agriculture In 2015, the UK Department for International Development (DFID) adopted a new Conceptual Framework on Agriculture. This new long-term strategy promotes commercialization and agroindustry development to enable a “rural transition” that would allow the majority of the rural poor to exit “primary agricultural production.” Under DFID’s vision, smallholder farmers, who currently produce 70 percent of...

The Netherlands

The Netherlands: Serving Self-interest Over African Farmers In 2010, the Netherlands development aid policy officially shifted its focus from social development to economics and trade, with growing support given to private sector-led initiatives. As the world’s second largest exporter of agricultural products, the Netherlands emphasizes both food security and water as priority development areas to form bridges with the corporate "Dutch expertise...

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Blog

European Union Bankrolls Deceitful Land Project in Ethiopia

Saturday, July 30, 2016 Alice Martin-Prével

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 Conditionality

Wednesday, April 20, 2016 Alice Martin-Prével

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.”

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