The trouble with aid

Subject: Art
Type: Argumentative Essay
Pages: 4
Word count: 1034
Topics: Documentary, Film Analysis, Globalization, Social Issues

The documentary, The Trouble with Aid, is about the plight of humanitarian assistance that began during the Biafra war way back in 1970s. Since then, numerous humanitarian agencies have grown that offers assistance in disaster stricken areas, war rampant and eradication of different social problems around the world. However, the increasing trend of humanitarian assistance is worrying as more foreign government’s sends donation in terms of goods, troops and money to less privileged countries. This has spur debates among scholars, professionals and different stakeholders. As witnessed in many cases, the developing world receives humanitarian assistance than the developed nations and this seems to have a problem in terms of sustainability and independence of these nations. In many incidences the receiving nations always dances the tunes of the donors and this makes them subjected to manipulation as in the case of the US and the Africans nations through their international agency program, USAID. On the other hand, it becomes difficult for the poor and politically unstable developing nations like Somalia, Afghanistan among others to stand on their two feet without the humanitarian assistance since they experience more days of calamities than active production and growth of their nations. Thus, this paper will evaluate the challenge that humanitarian assistance offers to the receiving nations.

Over the years, the donors have not felt the value of the money they send to the deserving nations because of the rampant corruption (Cummings 2012). This means that most of the people who advocate for the humanitarian assistance to be sent to their nations are the beneficiaries at the expense of the people in dare need of the assistance of aid. Therefore, the humanitarian aids that are administered through a third party have failed to register a result because the money or the goods that are offered fails to benefit the intended populations as corrupt and malpractices plays a role. According to Herald (2015), Kenya was quoted as one of the nations that failed to account for the $224 million donor funds. This is an indication that the money released by the donor to help raise the living standards of the people and perhaps assist in the development of various projects do not reach due to corruption cases.

In other instances, the humanitarian assistance has been given in favor of others that does not deserve. This mean that the humanitarian assisted has not been done in a transparent manner as there are favors. For instance, most donor nations assist national that they have interest in terms of trade, exploration of natural resources among others. Because of this, many nations that deserve aid have been suffering at the expense of the few that are wealthy and have the capabilities of tackling their problems. A good case is Haiti that was left to struggle on its own when it was hit by hurricane. Despite the suffering that the nation underwent, little was done by the leading world donors to rescue its people. Although some NGOs assisted, it was later after many people had died and majority subjected to suffering due to the natural calamity that occurred.  It has also been reported that the humanitarian assistance and aid that foreign countries gives out is aimed at taking control of the nations and getting favors. A good example of this is the relationship between the UK and Kenya. UK favors Kenya because it offers a military training ground for the UK troops and they have established military bases in the area. Similarly, the US favors Kenya because of its position along the Indian Ocean shores that makes it ideal in controlling the nations that surrounds it. This is an indication that humanitarian assistance is a give and take affair in the political arena as it is given because of what one can offer.

Humanitarian assistance has caused dependence among the receiving nations and individuals (Belloni 2007), As more, foreign aid enters the nation, it becomes needless for the nation and people to work harder and solve the problem since the foreign aid brings easy and cheap solution. It true that most governments rely on the humanitarian assistance at eth expense of solving the problem because it is seen as a cheap avenue of getting funding. For instance, the Kenyan military mission in Somali is benefiting from the UN because it gives them money to improve their fighting equipment. This real deal benefits them since they get much money than when at home. Additionally, the refugees in many nations depend on the humanitarian assistance for their livelihood and this has made them to resist repatriation even on the voluntary basis. Thus, dependency that comes from humanitarian assistance is doing harm to these nations and people, as they are blind as long as the money keeps on coming.

Lastly, humanitarian assistance involving military intervention is characterized by high casualty rate among the troops and the civilians (Ignatieff 2000). In any military intervention incidences, there are many casualties that are suffered and this always a loss to the troops and the civilians. A good case is Kosovo where the NATO troops were involved and they were a bit reluctant to risk their lives on the ground and they resorted to bombing rather than invade the ground (Wheeler 2000). The bombing was costly as over 79 Albania refugees were killed by the bombing and hundreds injured (Seybolt 2007). Other destructions caused were related to infrastructures and the social life of the many families. Thus, the use of other interventions in humanitarian assistance would assist in meeting the goals as well as ensuring that security of everyone is guaranteed. Although some of these experiences and destructions could be prevented or minimized, opting for a military intervention does not bring good tidings always.

In conclusion, The Trouble with Aid has spelled out the challenges associated with humanitarian assistance. Although it has successfully worked in other regions, it has terribly failed in many instances. It has caused dependency among many nations and people and this has subjected these nations and people to be a puppet of the donor. Thus, it has caused destabilization, increased expenses, impacted global economy, balance of trade and stock markets in the equal measure.

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  1. Belloni, R 2007, The Trouble with Humanitarianism, Review of International Studies, 33 (3), pp. 451-74.
  2. Cummings, B 2012, The trouble with “The Trouble With Aid”. Available from
  3. Herald, October 19, 2015, NGO fail to account for $224 donor funds. Available from
  4. Ignatieff, M 2000, Virtual War: Kosovo and Beyond, Picador, New York.
  5. Seybolt, T 2007, Military Intervention: Conditions for Success and Failure, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  6. Wheeler, N 2000, Saving Strangers. Humanitarian Intervention in International Society, Oxford University Press, Oxford
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