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September 12, 2011

Aid methods work against agriculture in West Africa

International charity Oxfam said September 9 that donors have failed to reform the way they give aid to agriculture in West Africa, criticising short-term, badly coordinated projects that cost millions.

Releasing a report in Dakar, Oxfam's regional agricultural campaign director Samira Daoud said despite commitments by big donors to reform the way they give aid, projects contiue to be carried out in an ineffective fashion.

After the food crisis of 2008 international donors realised they had to focus on agriculture and food security, and pledged $22 billion over three years during the G8-summit in Aquila, Italy in 2009.

However the Oxfam report 'Aid Coordination and Alignment: Myth or Reality' released in Dakar, said only 22 percent of this had been disbursed by July 2011, and promises to reform the way aid is given, to make it more effective, have not materialised.

As an example, Oxfam said, USAID in Ghana has a project called 'Feed the Future' which seeks to strengthen local producers. But it also runs a programme called 'Food for Peace' where surplus American food is distributed to the populace.

"This is totally contradictory, if you distribute American food in Ghana you are disturbing the market of Ghanaian producers. There are many examples like this where donors are not really consistent in the same country or sector."

The report, which studied aid programmes in Niger, Burkina Faso and Ghana, spoke of "a host of short-term, poorly coordinated projects, leading to high running costs and lost opportunities for the countries receiving the aid."


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