FOOD MATTERS: International aid not always in people’s best interest

NANAIMO – There are strong similarities between food banks, welfare and international emergency aid.

There are strong similarities between food banks, welfare and international emergency aid.

In each case, what was intended to be emergency help has led to dependency instead of temporary assistance.

In our communities, we have had community economic development (CED) for decades, but the poverty gap has widened. Something is not working.

A public quarrel has erupted between Dambisa Moyo, Zambian celebrity economist, and Bill Gates, philanthropist, over Gates’s attempts to fund aid megaprojects, particularly in agriculture, in Africa.

Moyo made her name with a book called Dead Aid, in which she pointed out the obvious: that aid is not working. She began the quarrel by criticizing the Gates Africa project and Gates, stung, retaliated with insulting comments in a public forum.

You might think that they have opposite points of view, but the only difference is that Moyo appears to believe that unrestricted global corporate enterprise will solve the economic problems of African nations, while Gates wants to share the wealth he acquired from global enterprise in charitable efforts of questionable value.

In her 1971 book, Aid As Imperialism, Teresa Hayter came much closer to identifying the causes of underdevelopment than either Gates or Moyo.

She argued that institutions, notably the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, set up by the United Nations after the Second World War to deal with world poverty, served the interests of the rich nations and worsened the situations of the poor ones.

One of the bugbears of our international aid has been tied aid: aid tied to business interests in Canada.

Businesses in Canada see opportunities to contract for government funds to deliver development projects and increasingly seek partnerships with the larger and more conservative NGOs like WUSC, Plan Canada and World Vision.

I think there are many skilled and dedicated people working for government and NGOs delivering projects that make a difference and deserve support.

Aid is undermined by national and business interests which are not the same as the interests of the recipients.

And it seems blindingly obvious that most global trade is exceedingly unfair to everybody except executives and shareholders. We need global fair trade.

Cheap food and other goods from overseas based on low wages are bad for primary producers overseas.

What they need is access to markets dominated by global businesses so huge that they have lost their connection to their origins.

Expecting Canadian farmers to compete with offshore prices based on low wages is not fair.

Small-scale, local farming is the best kind of social enterprise because there is nothing more useful to people than healthy food.

Get to know your farmers and processors and you will find the best food.


Marjorie Stewart is board chairwoman of the Nanaimo Foodshare Society. She can be reached at

Just Posted

Janice Coady, left, Aimee Chalifoux and Linda Milford at a vigil for Amy Watts on Wednesday, June 16, outside Nanaimo city hall. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
‘We need to do better,’ says mother of woman who was killed in Nanaimo

Vigil held for former outreach worker Amy Watts, whose body was found downtown June 3

The B.C. Ministry of Education has announced close to $44 million for the province’s schools for COVID-19 recovery. (News Bulletin file)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith school stakeholders say COVID-19 recovery funding can make a difference

B.C. Ministry of Education announces it expects a ‘near-normal’ return to class in September

Nanaimo artist Melissa Anderson has paintings on display at White Rabbit Coffee Co. for the next month. (Josef Jacobson/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo painter showcases coastal Island views in first exhibit in two years

Melissa Anderson presents ‘Seascapes’ oil painting exhibit at White Rabbit Coffee Co.

New COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island by local health area for the week of June 6-12. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control image)
New COVID-19 cases up on Island, but health officials say trends going right way

There were 22 new COVID-19 cases in Greater Victoria last week after just four the week before

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

The Co-op gas station at Whiskey Creek is burning after a camper van exploded while refueling just before 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Exploding camper van torches Highway 4 gas station between Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni

Highway traffic blocked after Whiskey Creek gas station erupts into flames

Helen Austin performing with Trent Freeman at the 2018 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Austin is one of the many performers listed for the 2021 event.
Vancouver Island MusicFest goes virtual for 2021

Black Press to stream 25 hours of programming July 9-11

Greater father involvement in the home leads to improved childhood development and increased marital satisfaction, says expert. (Black Press Media file photo)
Vancouver Island researcher finds lack of father involvement a drag on gender equality

Working women still taking on most child and household duties in Canada: UVic professor

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

Most Read