The Australian Donor – Elitist Idea of Development
By Niyati Agrawal
“Development is about transforming the lives of people, not just transforming economies.”
– Joseph E. Stiglitz, Making Globalization Work
Australia is committed to help reach the Millennium Development Goals set by the UN. It is one of the major donor countries which helps other developing and under developing countries achieve their goals. AusAID is the government agency that oversees the country’s contribution to the achievement of the goals. It has improved the lives of many individuals and nations across the world, with majority of work taking place in the Asia- Pacific region.
The progress made by AusAID is remarkable. It has been successful in eradicating hunger and poverty is countries of Asia and Africa. To achieve this goal Australia has funded the World Food Programme, helped in improving infrastructure like bridges and roads and promoted and provided agricultural amenities like cattle, equipments and seeds to countries like Bangladesh, Indonesia, Uganda and other few islands in South Asia. It also has encouraged local techniques of farming.
With the help of the MDGs 40 million children are able to gain education. In Indonesia alone, Australian help has built 2000 primary schools and also trains teachers to provide better quality of education. In countries like Pakistan, Vanuatu and Nepal, Australia is rigorously promoting gender equality by encouraging employment and leadership of women and elimination of violence against them.
Child mortality is one of the grave issues that Australia has been able to curb down. Medical assistance by the country has shown a sharp decrease in child deaths due to malaria in countries like Ethiopia and Rwanda. Another big achievement is the provision of treatment for HIV/AIDS in least developed countries. The work by Australia has managed to provide treatment to over four million people.
While the work done by Australia is commendable, a major point of argument that still lies is whether the idea of development that these donor countries have is the same as that of the least developed countries. The developmental practices that are globally conducted are not only eradicating poverty and diseases but also the traditional and domestic culture of the aided countries. It is subtle imperialism by the donor and developed countries through monetary help rather than military dominance. Another setback that these goals have had is the global recession of 2008. The developed countries were the worst affected which has led to a holdup in carrying out and meeting the target set in the Millennium Development Goals by the end of 2015. The funds allocated by the developed nations aren’t necessary in the same scheme where the under developed need the most help. The majority of accomplishment is to be done at an individual level by the countries.
While the donor countries are doing a good job, won’t it be better that if they help the needy countries in the areas they still require the most help? It may be a greedy argument but it is time that the elite of the world sees the problems through the eyes of the poor and not what they think might be the real issue.