AFRICANGLOBE – Some charity chiefs who fight global poverty are, it turns out, doing so on salaries of over £150,000 a year. According to research, there has been a 60 percent surge in the number of executives on six-figure salaries at Britain’s biggest charities over the past three years. Donations from the public, meanwhile, are down.
Corporate charities, it seems, are certainly doing their bit to tackle poverty in some of the leafier parts of London and the Home Counties.
Having grown up in Uganda in the 1970s and 80s, I am highly sceptical about big Western corporate charities. I’ve seen first-hand the gap between what they claim to be doing to save the world, and what they actually achieve.
Through civil war, invasion and famine, a tiny number of outside organisations provided help to ordinary Ugandans; various orders of the Catholic Church, the occasional Anglican, and a handful of small British and American charities, often run on a shoestring round a kitchen table.
Then the big corporate charities decided Uganda would be a great gig. So they roared in, their 4x4s filling the potholed streets of Kampala. These Lords of Poverty – many on large per diems – began to preside over a multimillion-dollar aid industry. But did they actually help Uganda?
Given the amount of money they spent it would be difficult not to have done some good. But an awful lot of aid money was wasted. Many development programmes sank without trace in a sea of dollars and wishful thinking.
Studies looking at the impact of Western aid programmes have shown that there is zero correlation between per capita overseas development assistance and changes in GDP. In other words, all those big Western aid agencies, with their costly executive overheads and per diems have done nothing to develop Africa.
Uganda has made spectacular strides in recent years. But this is despite, not because of, Western aid.
On my most recent return, I was struck by quite how fast the economy is growing. But Uganda is booming because millions of Ugandans are joining the global economy – that great, sprawling network of specialisation and exchange that enriches us all. New industries and exports are springing up. Technology, from mobile phones to solar powered lighting, is improving living standards.
Western aid agencies are about paying big incomes to Western charity chiefs. Real development for Africa means big incomes being earned by African entrepreneurs and wealth creators.
If you want to develop Africa, don’t give money to corporate charity bosses; buy some Kenya roses, Zimbabwe fish, Zambia vegetables or Uganda tea.
By: Douglas Carswell