13 October 2015

To see MDG shortcomings, look no further than Addis

The distribution of income and wealth are aspects of economic progress that are most relevant to the MDGs. The widening gulf between the haves and have-nots in Ethiopia does not require a journalist or any analyst to leave Addis Ababa. The alarming increase in the number of beggars in the streets and the exodus of unemployed youth across deserts and high seas are sufficient to inform any observer interested in arriving at a balanced assessment. But such a story may not generate enough clicks in donor countries. It may also undercut the Western narrative of saviordom that’s driven by the aid-industrial complex.
 That is J. Bonsa in Opride, an online site covering Ethopia and Africa. It is in response to recent reporting by the BBC holding up Ethiopia as an MDG success story - a place where many MDGs were achieved prior to 2015. Bonsa cuts through some of the claims that government programs succeeded, such as major reductions in birth rates. The desire to see Ethiopia, or anywhere, as a success story ultimately renders some analysts blind to major problems faced by the country, he argues.
It is also abundantly clear that there is a tacit understanding between the Ethiopian government and the donor agencies not to scrutinize Ethiopia’s record on MDGs to a required extent. Donors need a foreign aid success story. Besides, for fear of political backlash from the general public, Western leaders would not object to the success story lines. It is in this scheme of things that the Western media appear to be given the role of generating the “Ethiopia rising” or “Africa Rising” storylines to enhance the “feel good factor” in donor countries. The increasingly muzzled Ethiopian public can do little more than helplessly watching this drama being played out in the name of poverty reduction.
HT Mo Keita