Development without freedom: how aid underwrites repression in Ethiopia

HRWDonor strategy toward Ethiopia needs fundamental rethinking

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Ethiopia is one of the poorest countries in the world, and is also one of the world’s largest recipients of foreign development aid. Foreign donors insist that their support underwrites agricultural growth, food security, and other non-political programmes. However, Human Rights Watch research shows that development aid flows through, and directly supports, a virtual one-party state with a highly questionable human rights record.

The paper states that Ethiopia’s practices include jailing political oppositionists, silencing critics and media, and enacting laws to undermine human rights activity. This politicisation has a direct impact on the livelihoods of people for whom access to agricultural inputs – the intended use of aid –  is a matter of survival.

The author underlines that Ethiopia’s foreign donors are aware of this discrimination, but have done little to address the problem or tackle their own role in underwriting government repression. In this sense, donor policy has been remarkably unaffected by Ethiopia’s deteriorating human rights situation.

The document concludes that the Ethiopian population pays a heavy price for this approach to development. Accordingly, it draws the following recommendations:

  • donor strategy toward Ethiopia needs fundamental rethinking
  • in light of the government’s human rights violations, direct budget support to the government should not even be considered
  • programs supported by international funds should be independently monitored
  • credible audit institutions should examine aid to Ethiopia in the context of whether it contributes to political repression
  • external donors must be more vocal about the steps Ethiopia should take to ensure that its citizens enjoy the rights to which they are entitled under the country’s constitution and international human rights law
  • donor countries will exert far more influence on the government if they act together rather than separately.

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Posted by on August 12, 2014. Filed under FEATURED. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

One Response to Development without freedom: how aid underwrites repression in Ethiopia

  1. Sam

    August 13, 2014 at 10:13 PM

    I am not opposing aid per Se. But the question really is do Ethiopians benefit of the aid? Absolutely not to the minimum one should expect. But the aid the Western countries are doling out is creating a government intent to subjugate its own people to its needs. I remember that I used to argue no matter how undemocratic the government in power is Ethiopians should not argue against aid. I have a second thought now. I come to believe the aid the government is receiving used to empower the government, not Ethiopians. As many African leaders used the aid money to create a state that suffocates the life out of every Africans, the EPDRF used the aid money to create a government that rules for “infinity.” That might be a wild dream in the government part. But even if for a given time the aid helps to empower the government than the people it is time for people of good consciousness to argue against it. As time goes by the EPDRF government true color comes more apparent. For EPDRF staying in power is more important than striving to create a self-sufficient society. As the former prime minster milked the West euphoria about terrorism, the new group led government seems intent to continue on that path. It is time for Ethiopians to tell the West the hard working westerners tax money should be stopped from being used as a means to silence Africans whose only wish is to have their dream of living free of government oppression comes true.