Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Oil riches, diverted

Open sewers line a street in Ndjamena, Chad, and trash is everywhere; courtesy the New York Times

A recent article in the New York Times describes agonizingly the problem facing world efforts to lift many Third World countries out of poverty.

Chad is a country that has recently had an incredibly lucrative asset realized in oil. In exchange for a loan allowing them to facilitate exportation of that product, a deal was signed with the World Bank promising that all profits would go to alleviating poverty within the country. Unfortunately, Chad has recently seriously weakened this law in order to direct the money towards other government spending, including military. True needs are not being met.

Worldwide campaigns have mounted to urge First World countries to offer debt relief to Third World countries. Outright debt forgiveness is advocated. The problem is, many of the countries where poverty is most rampant are the most corrupt. Some of these countries, such as Chad, even have resources that could bring them out of poverty if they were distributed.

It does not seem reasonable to suggest any help to the governments of the countries on the list of the most corrupt countries in the world. However, how do you help the poor residents in those places? Is there an easy answer?


Oneway said...

The easy answer is probably war.

Westy said...

And then what? The exit strategy is key.
How long will international peacekeepers be necessary. How many failures will this take (see Haiti)?
I'm not saying that's not the best answer, but would we be prepared to deal with the uncleanness of the process?