Bono had a great op-ed in Saturday’s New York Times introducing us to some of the most important players in African development–business people, artists and activist who are working toward a new kind of hope.
Aid, it’s clear, is still part of the picture. It’s crucial, if you have H.I.V. and are fighting for your life, or if you are a mother wondering why you can’t protect your child against killers with unpronounceable names or if you are a farmer who knows that new seed varietals will mean you have produce that you can take to market in drought or flood. But not the old, dumb, only-game-in-town aid — smart aid that aims to put itself out of business in a generation or two. “Make aid history” is the objective. It always was. Because when we end aid, it’ll mean that extreme poverty is history. But until that glorious day, smart aid can be a reforming tool,demanding accountability and transparency, rewarding measurable results, reinforcing the rule of law, but never imagining for a second that it’s a substitute for trade, investment or self-determination.
Refering to Mo Ibrahim, an innovative leader fighting corruption in Africa, Bono concludes:
I for one want to live to see Mo Ibrahim’s throw-down prediction about Ghana come true. “Yes, guys,” he said, “Ghana needs support in the coming years, but in the not-too-distant future it can be giving aid, not receiving it; and you, Mr. Bono, can just go there on your holidays.”
This sentiment is exactly what we are working for at Heifer. Already, in communities from Sierra Leone to Cameroon, Mo Ibrahim’s prediction is coming true. Through Heifer’s model of Pass on the Gift development recipients are becoming donors, year after year. With a rising generation of leaders and donors an end to aid is on the horizon–soon we will have only the exchanging of gifts.