Jose Cendon/AFP/Getty Images
Somalis unload sacks of sorghum provided by the World Food Programme on Marka beach on Dec. 5. The food is destined for people displaced by the fighting in Mogadishu and living in camps around the capital.
Somalis unload sacks of sorghum provided by the World Food Programme on Marka beach on Dec. 5. The food is destined for people displaced by the fighting in Mogadishu and living in camps around the capital. Jose Cendon/AFP/Getty Images
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Advocates of aid to Africa often point out that, because the continent's poverty is so deep and its problems are so great, even a relatively small amount of help can accomplish a great deal. They point to cheap treatments to limit the spread of HIV/AIDS, and to others that prevent river blindness and malaria, as success stories in Africa.
Skeptics complain that much of the money given to help Africans has been stolen by corrupt African leaders. They say that stolen aid money helps keep such leaders in power, and that aid that does get to the people undermines their ability to fend for themselves.
Six experts on Africa policy recently took on those issues in an Oxford-style debate, part of the series Intelligence Squared U.S. The debates are modeled on a program begun in London in 2002: Three experts argue in favor of the proposition and three argue against.
In the latest debate, held on Dec. 4, the formal proposition was "Aid to Africa Is Doing More Harm than Good." The debate was held at the Asia Society and Museum in New York City and moderated by Brian Lehrer, host of The Brian Lehrer Show on New York Public Radio.
In a vote before the debate, 24 percent of audience members supported the motion and 34 percent opposed it. Forty-two percent were undecided. After the debate, 41 percent of audience members agreed with the proposition that aid to Africa was generally harmful. Fifty-one percent opposed it, and 8 percent remained undecided.
Highlights from the debate: