News 2008


Robert Calderisi on Kenya, the role of foreign aid


From Saturday's Globe and Mail

February 2, 2008

In the last few days, a number of outside voices have offered advice on the crisis in Kenya, Robert Calderisi wrote Saturday in his Globe essay High time to lose patience in Kenya

"We can't just sit by," said the chairman of the African Union, opening its annual meeting in Addis Ababa on Wednesday. "If Kenya burns, there will be nothing for tomorrow."

The president of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, favours a military coup d'ιtat.

"It might not be fashionable," he says, "but in situations where institutions have lost control, I wouldn't mind such a solution."

Mr. Calderisi argues that Less draconian approaches may also work — but only if Kenya's problems are seen in a larger light.

"So how can the international community respond to Kenya's — and Africa's — impatience for progress?" he asks.

"It can seize the assets of senior officials who, until now, have salted away their loot in Western banks with total impunity.

"The world can continue to provide direct support to community groups, human rights activists, democratic reformers, and those promoting a free press.

"And, in a number of cases, the answer may be to make foreign assistance more openly political . . .

"Making aid more political does not mean using it as a convenient instrument of foreign policy. But if the goal is to fight poverty, the way a government treats its citizens — including its journalists, entrepreneurs and small farmers — should be central to the level of aid it receives."