German Film Club
Wednesday, 5 October 2016, 19.00 WIB
Auditorium, Kedai Kebun Forum
Jl. Tirtodipuran 3, Yogyakarta
Open for public and free entry
– The screening will be followed by a discussion about benefits and misfits of International Development Aid in Indonesia (with experts from ASB, CIRCLE, GIZ, UGM) –
Sweet Poison (Süsses Gift – Hilfe als Geschäft)
Director: Peter Heller, 2010-2012, documentary, 92 min., with English subtitles
The documentary “Sweet Poison – Aid as Business” tackles the taboos of the everlasting solidarity for Africa. By focusing on three case studies from Mali, Kenya and Tanzania, it examines the effects of development aid from the perspective of Africans and asks: why, after fifty years and 450 billion euros spent in aid money, hasn’t Africa had the expected boost in development?
Together with African intellectuals and practitioners, director Peter Heller reaches a sobering conclusion: decades of aid have achieved nothing. While it secures tens of thousands of jobs in the northern world, the recipient countries have lapsed into lethargy. The film not only looks at the past, but also discusses new approaches to assistance and cooperation from both European and African perspectives.
Does development aid really help development? To date, there has been enough financial support from the North to help Africa get back on its feet – more than 450 billion euros have been sent there over the past 50 years, equivalent to four “Marshall Plans”. However, the result is alarming: the percentage of Sub-Saharan African involvement in world trade – not taking oil exports into account – has decreased, while national debt and poverty have increased. Still, many people from rich countries consider more development aid as a prescription for Africa’s plight.
A small but growing number of independent Africans advocate a radical departure and the cessation of such “aid”. In so doing, they argue that the power structures that have previously hampered democratic and economic regeneration would finally be broken. The African countries would be able to recognise and respond to the benefits of mutual economic interdependence and the predominantly meagre private sector could grow. Tyrannical rulers have abused the aid to strengthen their regimes, while destroying traditional democratic institutions and impeding the growth of new ones. Furthermore, they claim, market forces and trade are stifled, while bureaucracy and government statism are fattened. Financial aid promotes corruption and arms procurement, and leads to the destruction of the environment.
Why can’t good intentions bring about good actions? The problems in Africa are not just homemade. But after 50 years of independence, the solutions lie solely in the hands of the African people. If it was given the freedom to act on its own, Africa could become a thriving continent. And because aid from the outside can only penetrate inside with the consent of often questionable local regimes, the consequence is that people are denied this freedom.
As long as the inner structures of the recipient countries are not reformed, even a different, better form of development aid, as regularly offered by national donors and international financial organisations, makes little sense. This is why African critics rant and rave against the Western “aid industry” that has no interest in finding real solutions, as it thrives on African problems.
The EU prides itself on being the world’s largest donor of development aid, while its Member States and non-governmental aid organisations vie for the most prestigious projects in African countries.
In the short term, the African critics will not be able see their demands met. The wall represented by recipient governments and the “aid industry” is too solid: foreign aid organisations in Africa number approximately 40,000 employees.
For more info please contact Uniph 085725809139