George Bush visited five African countries last week to promote the alleged benefits of US aid. But at the same time the charity Save the Children has issued a report that exposes the truth behind his boasts.
The US government claims that aid to Africa has increased enormously under Bush. On this latest trip he signed a $698 million aid agreement with the government of Tanzania.
This is part of Bush’s “Millennium Challenge Compact”, which gives grants to countries that stick to “democratic principles and sound economic policies” – government-speak for hardline neoliberalism.
Behind the headlines, these aid policies will do little or nothing to lift the majority of people in Africa out of poverty.
Save the Children’s report Saving Children’s Lives: Why Equity Matters details how even countries with rapid economic growth still face an increase in child mortality.
Angola has been praised by the West for its high rate of economic growth – but the report notes that the “imbalance between wealth and child survival might more plausibly be attributed to Angola’s grossly unequal distribution of wealth, one of the worst in the world according to the United Nations.
“While a small elite has benefited from Angola’s abundant oil revenues, this resource has not brought benefits to the vast majority of the population and the country still has the second highest mortality rate in the world, at 260 deaths per 1,000 live births.”
It further states that while growth is necessary, “a broader, pro‑poor development strategy is also required to ensure the proceeds of this growth are shared more equitably”.
The report calls for investment in free healthcare, clean water and sanitation, support for women’s education and action against poverty and reduction of inequality. All these things are at odds with the free market policies Bush is pushing.