The granting of foreign aid/ development assistance to developing and underdeveloped countries can often is a challenging task. While these countries definitely need assistance from the developed world, charitable intentions doesn’t necessarily translate into desired outcomes. That is why the decision makers in government and other international financial institutions will have to weigh the pros and cons of each grant and come to a conclusion based on individual cases. The rest of this essay will elaborate the positive and negative factors that facilitate or thwart foreign aid issuance.
Firstly, citizens in donor nations often think of their aid to developing countries as a humanitarian cause. Their intention is to do the morally correct thing and to demonstrate goodwill toward disadvantaged people of the world. Whether this intention is manifest as private philanthrophic aid or government sanctioned aid, it is often regarded as a “gift or a way of acting on fundamental values, particularly religious tenets, humanitarian principles, and universal rights.” (Dervil, et. al, 2010, p.1) Such altruistic and benevolent intention needs to be appreciated and rewarded. It also brings a sense of solidarity among people of different nationalities, which is a desirable outcome.
It could also be argued that covering one’s strategic interests is a legitimate goal by itself. Thereby, one could justify the encompassing of foreign aid under the strategic policy framework. For example, much of the assistance provided around the world by the United States during the Cold War was aimed at shaping spheres of influence without much regard for actual development. Proponents argue that this was essential in maintaining power equations in global politics and in preventing catastrophic military entanglements, such as the hypothetical Third World War. (Siegle et.al, 2004, p.66) Similarly, such outlays are in contrast to another variety of wielding influence as illustrated by the Marshall Plan, which was projected as “development assistance in the form of investment”. (Siegle et.al, 2004, p.66) In contemporary global politics, a similar policy is being adopted by China, whose development assistance to Africa is seen as a manifestation of its growing global clout. (Dervil, et. al, 2010, p.2)
Furthermore, development assistance can also be viewed as one key instrument among an array of policy measures that is deployed as a way of gaining a return on investment. Return on investment in turn translates into economic security and global stability. Similarly, purported efforts to stimulate and help grow emerging market economies in Asia and South America can be seen as diversification of investment risks panning the globe. That such influx of funds will lead to sustainable and balanced economic growth is the key imperative and development of democracy and transparent governance is incidental to the cause. This has generally been the attitude shown by the Group of Twenty countries that essentially assign and prioritize distribution of aid internationally. Further,