Amidst this tampering with resources the question crops up: is aid effective? The deeper question is: Who is aiding and who is ailing?
In the years I spent as a European in Arab, Asian and African contexts, I have met appreciation for network, skills and expertise I supposedly brought along from Europe. However, way down there was a silent jealousy, not envying my skills or expertise, but the fact that I could travel the world by using them. I was a mobile citizen, able to travel to remote places, always able to withdraw if things would get out of control. This reality has best been illustrated in movies protraying the course of events during times of trouble for countries like the ones that were hosting me and my family. From covering genocides to showing immense inequality, maintaining slavery by virtue of economic dominance. These movie makers have probably been the best advocates for the causes of the oppressed. But along with the images of poverty and violence they often portrayed a fleeing expatriate community, not willing nor being able to deal with the realities unfolding around them. Every western country taking care of its 'own' citizens. The images that reached us from Northern Africa were from a rather different nature, with Asian migrant workers fleeing african conflicts. Never having been myself in such a situation I have no right to comment. During election time in Ethiopia I made sure my family left a couple of days earlier for our annual leave. However, what I did witness, was the impact of this reality on my relationships with colleages and friends being part of our hosting societies.
Despite appreciation for my expertise and helpful attitude, most of the time my presence was tolerated, hoping I would somehow be a door to my world with posibilities. Now that my world is shrinking, will they still warmly welcome me when I knock at their door? It seems to me that the best strategy that remains is welcoming foreigners warmly in our own shrinking space, and offering them the best resources that I would normally use to sustain myself. This ridicule behaviour I would have copied from abroad. In the end, all that matters is relationship. A new way of measuring effectiveness?