Monday, February 06, 2006

Controversial Foreign Aid

From an economics blog called SmartEconomist.com:
In Kenya, four million people are facing hunger due to severe drought. A New Zealand dog food manufacturer offered to donate 6,000 emergency packs of dog food mixture to help feed Kenyan orphans. A Kenyan government spokesman said: "We appreciate the offer, but we dismiss it as culturally insulting."
Their source is the following BBC article.

I imagine this article will garner some divided views from you guys, so what do you think? Is cultural pride interfering with social welfare or is it worth sacrificing a relatively small amount of food to maintain the dignity of their people?

(Source: Marginal Revolution)

11 comments:

Daniel Hanison said...

It goes without saying that it is extremely insulting to offer dog food to another human being. In the article it says that it is "definitely not dog food" so why call it that when offering it as aid? It is very nice of the dog food manufacturer to donate 6,000 packs, but thats not going to go far in feeding 4 million people -- it's just a start. If the manufacturer could name the packs they were donating something else apart from dog food, it would not be culturally insulting and the aid would more than likely be taken. Althought the Kenyan government might not give up its dignity and accept the offer, I'm sure a starving Kenyan would be more than happy to recieve "a high-powered food full of nutrients".

Devin Arnold said...

I agree with Daniel, that it is unquestionably insulting to offer dog food to a fellow human being under ordinary circumstances. However, seeing as how this is not an ordinary cicumstance, all options, including accepting the donation must be investigated to their fullest extent. I'm not surprised that the government refused the offer, but it raises the question, are the ones making that decision the ones starving to death. The answer to that is no. Those who call the shots are living with many of the amenities and luxuries that we have here in America. I'm sure that should you offer dog food to a starving child he or she would without a doubt accept.

Anonymous said...

First, if you were stranded in the middle of the wilderness (or in a drought stricken country), you'd probably eat some stuff you'd never consider eating if you were in your home in the suburbs. But that's because we have the option not to. The officials (the few making decisons for the millions of starving citizens) are not living the life of suffering and hunger that their subjects are, so I don't think they really should be deciding who can and can't eat free food donated by a company trying to do something for others. Yes, it is insulting to offer dog food to another human, but the mixture in question is not simply dog food. It is a component of dog food, one that the creator eats every morning, proving the point that is acceptable for human consumption. She has the choice of not eating it, but she does. Therefore, it appears that the Kenyan government is being a little too proud in its denial of free food (food that it cannot provide for its own citizens) just because it has some association with dog food, which itself isn't bad for humans anyway. Even if it was even the slightest bit insulting, which it is not, that government is in absolutely no position to deny nutrients to its starving citizen, especially in the relatively humane form that its being offered in.
-andrew gelly

Nic Neinken said...

First off, dog food is really good! It makes a great after school snack. Second off, is it already embarassing enough for the Kenyan people that their people are starving to death. I think a little dog food shouldn't hurt their pride. They need to realize that it will save part of their population from starvation. Also, the dog food may kick start their economy becuase some people will eat the free dog food and feel nourished enough to go out and work to get more food and supply for themselves. In a time of need I think it is great that this woman is trying to help and I think that the dog food mix will help the Kenyan people as a whole more than it will hurt the Kenyans people's pride.

Anonymous said...

I think that while it may appear to be an insulting offer on the surface, Kenya may have made a mistake in declining the food offer. It's easy for the members Kenyan government to say that the offer is insulting because they're not the ones who are actually suffering from the food shortage. If it was up to the inhabitants of the country who are actually apart of the suffering, I don't think they would've cared whether it was or was not dog food, as long as the food is able to be consumed by humans. I mean, 4 million starving people is a lot of people to help out, and Kenya could use every bit of help they could get to help their country. Plus if the creator of the dog food eats it every morning and experiences no problems, then it should be perfectly acceptable for use in Kenya. I just don't think it's really smart of the Kenyan government to simply brush away the offer at a time when the country has declared a natural disaster.

-Ravi Bhatia

Gregory Bylos said...

Devin makes a great point about how the people refusing the food are not the people who need it. However, I think they absolutely made the right decision in rejecting the dog food. The article says it is simply a food shortage, not that children are starving to death. I think that to offer anyone dog food is extremely insulting and why should a country have to accept dog food, can other countries not give some real food?

Anonymous said...

I think its is pretty embarrassing that this woman would even consider sending other humans dog food. And if her mixture wasn't really dog food why would you ever bring dog biscuits or food into the picture. She could have simple said she was sending 42 tons of maize and packages of food supplements. This womans stunt was even more degrading to a continent filled with troubles. I'm not saying that this woman didn't have any good intentions, but I think she was out to find a little controversy as well. If people really wanted to help millions of people, they would help institute some sort of stable industry within Africa. Without this aid, Africa will never be able to climb out of it's downward spiral.

Anonymous said...

that was from Brian Berkowitz by the way

Anonymous said...

Honestly, I think i would eat almost anything if it decided wether or not i lived. And if dog food was on the table, i wouldn't think twice. I can see the officer's argument that it is insulting, but it might be a little irrational to reject an offer when it comes to saving citizens' lives. I think it is insulting in return to reject a dog food manufacturer's desire to help humanity. Of corse they aren't going to be sending over 6,000 individually wrapped and grilled filet mignons. Its not their line of business. They were simply helping in a way they could. 6,000 packs would benefit them more from an economic standpoint if sold. i think its hardly the right decision to trade children starving for a little country pride.
David Hale

Anonymous said...

I could see both sides... I mean yes food is food and if there are millions starving and your country is in desperation for food I would take the dog food. But like you said it is a relatively small amount. Yes, it is pretty insulting that a dog food company offered people dog food and pretty sad that no human food manufacturer could offer some of their product but if I was placed in a life or death situation I would eat that dog food!!! KRISTEN

Brian Zabell said...

It seems from the article that "dog food" is just a media-friendly of making this a story.

IT'S NOT DOG FOOD

It's perfectly good and sanitary stuff. The woman question of sending "dog food" also says she "sprinkles the powdered supplement on her porridge every morning." It "tastes yummy."

She's also sending 42 TONS of corn.

It would appear to me as if whomever decides these policies in Kenya is just being irrationally anti-American. There are good reasons and bad reasons to hate America, but this takes "bad" to the point of "disgusting."

Talk about going out of your way to not accept help when it's needed by saying "OMG the americans sent stuff used in making dog food! Quickly, change the context to make America look bad."

Good job, Kenya. You succeeded in making a non-story into a big Anti-american story at the cost of still having a food shortage...