You Decide: Humanitarian Aid


How does aid help the recipient countries?

Humanitarian aid addresses "urgent food, shelter, and medical needs" (Margesson). It allows distraught countries to shelter the homeless, feed the hungry, provide medical attention to those who need it, and rebuild the country. Without aid from other countries, many people would die from preventable causes. Aid allows countries that can no longer provide for themselves help the people of their country make it through whatever it is that they are going through. 


How does aid help the donor countries?

Humanitarian aid plays a huge role in foreign policy. Because of this, it can provide many benefits to the countries that donate it.

First, countries can use aid money to either help keep a regime in power or try to knock a regime out of power. Take the United States for instance. According to Douglas Belle, "Evidence suggests that the effects of disasters can be destabilizing in general and the United States could logically be expected to use disaster aid to help friendly governments in allied nations stay in power or, alternately, withhold aid to destabilize opponent or target nations" (457).

Second, countries can use aid money to gather allies during wartime. The Cold War is a great example of this. As stated in Belle's article, "During the Cold War, the United States would have been more likely to give aid in an attempt to sway neutral nations toward the United States and away from the Soviet Union. For example, if a nonaligned nation experienced an earthquake, it would have been in the U.S. interest to give and give generously to influence the orientation of that country" (457).

Third, aid given equals investment. According to the essay, "Time Essay: The Downs and Ups of Foreign Aid," while carrying out the Marshall Plan, the United States discovered the self-benefits gained from helping others. As stated in the essay "The material results of foreign aid are often significant but little-known factories, dams and agricultural projects that create jobs and food, which in turn contribute to economic and political advance-- and to good business for the U.S. Improving the economies of the developing countries makes them better customers. An estimated 2 million American jobs depend on exports to developing countries, and twelve of those nations, according to a United Nations Association study, are the world's fastest growing markets for U.S. products. There are even more tangible benefits for America. For every $1 that the U.S. contributes to international financial institutions that give aid, the recipients spend $2 to buy goods and services in the U.S." (Trippett). In the words of Joe Blaikie, "The best way to view this type of government spending is not aid, but rather investment."