There are three sources of aid; Non governmental organizations (NGOs) Bilateral and multilateral. NGOs are voluntary organizations such as Oxfam and Concern who provide both emergency and development aid. Bilateral aid is aid from one country to another. It is usually ‘tied’ aid in that it has some strings attached to it (i.e. a trade agreement) It is usually used to improve agriculture, education, health services etc. Multilateral aid is aid from international institutions such as Red Cross, the UN and the World Bank who provide both emergency and development aid.
Emergency aid has saved countless lives after a natural disaster, or war, or disease. It is aid, which provides food, clothing, shelter, emergency personnel, and medical aid. It is advantageous in that the rapid dispatching of such aid has managed to save lives that otherwise would have been lost. Modern transport systems have made the transportation of such aid much easier and more effective than in the past. Emergency aid does not upset local food producers in a major way, since it tends to be a one off occurrence that reacts to major humanitarian catastrophes.
Development programmes in Lesser developed countries such as Zambia, Ethiopia and Lesotho are used for projects such as clean water supplies, farm livestock improvement, adult literacy etc. It provides vital infrastructure such as water-supply pipes and wells, sanitation and new roads can give a boost to an emerging economy. Farm improvement schemes and education programmes help people to cater for their own future long term needs. Health clinics develop skills of local people to cater for their communities basic needs. Development aid is called ‘appropriate aid’ because it serves the needs of local communities.
Not all aid is positive. Tied aid for example may benefit the donor more than the receiver. Aid may cause the receiver to become more dependant on the donor country, or if it is military aid it may be used by government against an opponent with a just quarrel against government policies. Much tied age is given to better-off third world countries that may serve the political or economic needs of donor countries (e.g. South Africa, Argentina etc.) Some powerful countries may use it as a means of political control over weaker countries. For example, the US government asked the Turkish government if it could use Turkish air bases to bomb Iraq in the 2003 war. When Turkey refused, the US immediately withdrew millions of dollars of aid from Turkey. Loans may be given in the form of aid. Some of these loans are given on standard commercial terms, and may create crippling debt over long periods.
NGOs enjoy an independent status that allows agencies to work independently for justice in places such as South Africa, which was under apartheid policies up to the 1980s. Because NGOs are relatively small organizations they do no get involved in mega projects such as dam construction. They are mostly involved with community based ‘appropriate aid’ projects that get local support. Whilst they are effective, they depend on voluntary donations alone, which are in short supply. One of the largest reasons for this is that popular western attitudes of decency result in the poorest parts of the world being portrayed as rather more benign than they really are.