In a prominent feature of its July 20th, 2007 newscast, CBC television presented us with a typically bleeding heart feel-good portrait of Canadian do-goodism at work. Prime Minister Harper was in Haiti to formalize the transfer of more aid to that desperate country, which after Afghanistan, is Canada’s most favoured recipient. Ottawa has sent more than $700 million to Haiti since 1968 and has pledged $520 million more in the next four years. Wear the maple leaf proudly on your heart.
Yet, with all of that, Haitians still live on one American dollar a day, 80% exist in poverty and 54% exist in abject poverty. Daniel Erickson, Latin analyst with Washington’s Inter-American Dialogue, said “This is a country that has received millions of dollars in aid and hasn’t shown much progress.”
Is it any wonder? What the CBC did not say, and has never said in any of its reports of Third World poverty in the past four decades, is that population growth may be eating up the benefits dispensed by our well-meaning efforts.
In Haiti there are 35.87 births per 1000 and in 2006 4.94 children were born per woman. The Canadian fertility rate was 1.53. The annual population growth rate is 2.5%, which means that Haiti’s 8.7 million people will double to 17.4 million in just 28 years if this rate persists.
Yet, of the staggering $353 million in projects currently under way in Haiti under the auspices of the Canadian International Development Agency---NONE, ZERO, SQUAT, NADA---were listed under the category of “family planning”.
This, after a Senate committee last January concluded that $575 billion (US) spent in African development aid in the last forty years, much of it by Canadian taxpayers, had left Africans in a worse state than before the aid was provided. In flat contradiction to the theory of Demographic Transition, short-term material improvement only served as an incentive for African women to have more children. The population boom exhausted resources leaving more people subsisting at a higher level of misery than a generation before. Clearly prosperity is not the best contraceptive after all.
The question remains, when is Ottawa going to learn its lesson? When is foreign aid going to be made conditional on population control so that it can be made effective? And when is the CBC going to start to do some analytical journalism instead of the politically correct nutrasweet flag-waving we saw on the 20th of July?