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'Lots of Aid for Africa'

June 08, 1986

This is in reference to Jonathan Power's article (Editorial Pages, May 28), "Lots of Aid for Africa: Will It Help?"

Whenever I hear any doubts concerning the effects of recent aid efforts to Africa I am reminded of the wonderful programs that are really working in developing nations to alleviate hunger and poverty. And as we become more and more aware of the true conditions, the programs that are working, as we develop ideas for even better methods, lines of attack, in other words, become more and more responsible for ending this condition, the question of effective aid will be answered.

Ironically, as we have discovered the huge need for stop-gap measures (i.e., famine relief) we have been able to see the even greater need for long-term solutions. Those programs that create self-sufficiency deserve our support the most.

For example, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) can empower a man to produce a ton of food every year for the rest of his life for about $200 in comparison to the $400 it costs us to ship him a ton of food just once. A great place, IFAD, for our aid.

The World Bank has the ability to increase its poverty-oriented program lending by billions by simply shifting its percentage of total lending to that area. By doing so, it could create more permanent solutions to poverty and even support individual governments in doing the same.

This wouldn't require any increase in new money. Our "aid" for this would take the form of making it politically comfortable for the bank to make that shift in lending policy.

By supporting UNICEF and other agencies in their Child Survival Campaign, we cannot only prevent death and disease today, but we also will be setting up a health-care infrastructure (clinics, volunteers, supplies, education, etc.) that will last forever, yearly increasing its effectiveness at combatting hunger.

Death due to diarrheal disease is the single largest killer of children in developing nations. The result of malnutrition it can be stopped with a 10-cent packet of Oral Rehydration Salts. It costs even less to educate parents about its effects and how to mix the solution with salt and sugar from their own shelves. A million dollars toward this education and distribution would save millions of lives each year. Aid well-spent and measurable.



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