Sida's proposal to phase out aid to Bolivia, Colombia and Guatemala can be questioned for three reasons, writes former Sadev employee David Scott in a second reply.
In the light of the ongoing discussion on a further land concentration in development aid, which could possibly mean that this will be phased out in Latin America, I think there are some further reasons why development aid should be maintained.
First, Charlotte Petri Gornitzka mentions in Svenska Dagbladet that "Swedish development assistance has been given the task of working more and more in post-conflict and conflict countries." This is a development that is clear in Swedish development assistance and according to Sida, five of the ten largest recipients of Swedish development assistance are conflict and post-conflict countries. Is it not a little strange, then, to leave Colombia, for example, which, despite ongoing peace talks, is still one of the world's worst hotbeds of conflict with the highest number of internally displaced people in the world?
Secondly, I am inclined to agree with the representatives of various voluntary organizations who claim that the measure used by Sida to classify countries in Latin America as middle-income countries is too bluntAgain, I would like to return to the evaluation SADEV made of aid to Guatemala. One of the most prominent goals of aid to Guatemala is to improve the health situation in the country, with a focus on primary care and sexual and reproductive health. In connection with this, as an evaluator I did some research on this and found some alarming information. According to Anand Grover, the UN Special Rapporteur on Best Achievable Health, the health situation in Guatemala is in many cases alarming, especially for the country's indigenous people. Among other things, 68% of children under the age of five from the indigenous population suffer from chronic malnutrition. In other respects, Grover points to inadequate healthcare, both in quantity and in quality, in areas where the majority are indigenous. One consideration linked to this is: Can Guatemala really be considered a middle-income country in the light of this?
Sweden has not only been a major economic donor to the effort, but the evaluation also points to the Swedish embassy's crucial role in creating favorable conditions for the effort.
Thirdly, I would like to clarify the good conditions in the form of confidence in Swedish development assistance that exists in Latin America. Once again, I return to the SADEV evaluation that examined Swedish aid to democracy and human rights in Guatemala. In the evaluation, the Swedish support for “CICIG” (International Commission against Impunity) is highlighted, which has the great challenge of dismantling organized crime in the country. Sweden has not only been a major economic donor to the effort, but the evaluation also points to the Swedish embassy's crucial role in creating favorable conditions for the effort. It is only a strong trust that means that Sweden has been allowed to play this role. It would be interesting to see how many other donors enjoy this form of respect, which is not based on having the largest wallet but shows genuine interest in promoting a country's democratic development.
With this, I want to contribute to a more nuanced debate on aid to Latin America. The discussion, initiated by Charlotte Petri Gornitzka, that concentrating aid on a small number of countries is not wrong in itself and a debate on this must be possible. Sida also has as a state authority to implement the Swedish development assistance policy, where the ambition today is to concentrate development assistance further. Realizing that Sweden cannot be active everywhere is not wrong. But one must still ask oneself: Is it worth phasing out aid to a continent where needs are still crying out and where there is a foundation in the form of high confidence to build on?
David Scott, political scientist and former employee at SADEV