Aid &Trade in Times of Trouble

Following an email send out about next year’s festival in the desert trip to Mali, one of my subscribers wrote to me: 
“Thanks but, I am not interested at this time!  Mali is not a place to visit now or later!”

Given the recent Tuareg rebellion has thrust Mali to the verge of civil war he had a point. But I replied:
“As long as you are not in the desert at this moment, you are fine in Mali. Obviously news of current events makes it seem bad, but on the ground in south Mali things are as normal. Oddly, for tourists, it is probably safer now than it was 4 months ago. But i grant you – a difficult sell that one! i’m going back soon and feel fine about it.”

He came back:
I still think that in these times of hardship and need, actions should
be focused on helping the fleeing Malians rather than pursuing profit
gains.  Tombouctou and the Desert will always be there, if not
destroyed by the war.  This is an African speaking!!!! Please reverse
your program and get your tourists work as volunteers for peace and
crisis relief agents.   Business will come last!!!!

My correspondent’s email signature included the quotations:

“An individual has not started living
until he can rise above  the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”
— Martin Luther King…”

“Those who do most, dream most. “
–Stephen Leacock

This gave me hope. I continued:
“Ah, we are touching on one of my favorite topics. Aid vs trade.
How can i provide sustainable tourism to countries if when there is a problem i just stop trading. Would my workers prefer if i say sorry you have no wages this month, I am giving your money to a food aid agency?
Aid is an industry, it is one of the west’s great exports to the developing world. Before anything arrives in Africa, that industry has to pay its costs. After administration and corruption what is left of the money ou have given? And what help on the ground can my clients give that outweighs the benefits of them spending their money in the community on food, drinks, petrol for the vehicle, hotel accommodation, buying artefacts, clothes, cds, going to museums, hiring a pinasse river boat, hiring guides and camels and drivers and cooks, tipping people who help them, a bit of charity to the beggar…?
In my view aid is the thing that is holding most of Africa back. It is through aid that western governments keep a hold on Africa. Aid fuels conflicts, makes governments corrupt and more responsible towards their donors than their people. Africans dont need the west’s aid anymore – most African economies are showing more growth than the west, and the strings attached to aid bind Africa into a beholdent relationship with their donors. Yes at times of crisis humanitarian aid is required, but by far the best thing ALWAYS for any country, African or else where, is trade.
In the west when we have a crisis do we wish everyone to stop trading with us and just throw us money?
Let’s take people who work for me. Do you think they would prefer a hand out from me of €200, (as I am currently doing for families i know who are fleeing Timbutku) , or would they have prefered the €300 in the pocket as a wage for work done for the trip cancelled? I have had to cancel two trips in february and March. That money is gone – I’d love those clients to donate all that trip money to my donation fund but in reality I’d be lucky if they gave a tiny fraction of that money to help.
One of the main reasons the Tuerag rebels give for the current conflict is the insecurity that Mali has fostered on their region which has killed all tourism and left the young Tuareg men with no forms of income other than joining up with rebel groups, Al Qaeda etc. Aid does not solve employment issues. Travel and therefore trade, does.”

Very well said!  I strongly think that your idea for converting your
for profit to not-for profit will significantly improve your chance
foe being supported by zealous critics like myself.  In fact, I am not
criticizing anything, I am sharing my ideas and hope they could be
taken as contribution.

Yes, you may provide a trinckling effect economy, a spill over by
temporarily providing income to locals, fo 1-2-3 months.  Great!  The
sustainable way would be to create durable, and mining effort to last
longer than that.

Call it what you want, Sir, but I am far from discouraging your
effort, but to improve your good deed.  If you did not send me your
emails, I will not address these issues.

Peace and love to an African brother!

Peace and love brother.

If you would like to help diplaced families in any way here is the link to my Mali Disiplaced Families Fund. All monies very greatfully received and will go straight to people in need.