Century Marks

Photo op: In 2003 President Bush asked Congress for $15 billion to address the AIDS pandemic in developing countries. But it’s not evident the money will reach the victims. According to Helen Epstein, at least 60 percent of U.S. foreign aid never leaves the country. It is spent on overhead. Much of the money that actually makes it to African countries is consumed by “ill-conceived projects designed by foreign technocrats with little sense of African realities.” Since U.S. aid is as much a political as a humanitarian act, the funded programs are driven to produce impressive numbers. Small, community-based organizations that are particularly effective at working with AIDS orphans are not being funded. Said one South African AIDS worker, “When the Americans come, we sing, we dance, they take our picture, and they go back and show everyone how they are helping the poor black people.


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