The newest nation in the world, South Sudan, was created out of a civil war that has engulfed the area of Sudan over the past half-decade. The Sudanese government has been in anarchy during this time. Tensions and government problems as well as a lack of infrastructure have contributed to the situation. Much like the rest of the region, in the Sahel, a sub-Saharan belt of land that includes other volatile countries such as Mali and Burkina Faso, third world conditions are worsening due to conflict, drought, famine, and economic problems. The aid to the Sahel region comes in two general types: military aid and developmental assistance. Many governments have been providing aid in one form or another to Sudan and the greater Sahel region. The EU and US have contributed greatly, in addition to the many efforts of the UN. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have also provided valuable assistance.
The African nation of Sudan is situated south of Egypt and west of Somalia. It is relatively large, and is rich in rare earth minerals (REMs) and oil. Military aid is loosely defined as any form of assistance that benefits either military or paramilitary forces in the region, in addition to aiding foreign troops on site, such as UN peacekeepers in Nigeria or the French Foreign Legion troops on peacekeeping operations in Mali. Military aid is often criticized for not addressing the root cause of the problems that exist in nations receiving such aid. To a certain extent, this criticism is accurate. The primary goal of military aid is not to solve all of the issues in the recipient nation. Rather, its goal is to create and preserve stability in the recipient nation, so that developmental efforts may take place. During the Nigerian Genocide, over 44,000 UN peacekeeping troops were deployed in an effort to create and preserve stability. These efforts were incredibly successful. The genocide was effectively over within a span of only a few months, and now that conditions are more or less stable, other organizations may begin to operate in the region and provide developmental assistance.
Developmental aid is much more strictly defined. The Organization for Economic Coordination and Development (OECD) provides the official definition for developmental assistance, stating that developmental assistance must be “provided by official agencies, including state and local governments, or by their executive agencies; and, each transaction of which; is administered with the promotion of the economic development and welfare of developing countries as its main objective; and, is concessional in character and conveys a grant element of at least 25%.” Developmental assistance must have economic development and welfare as its primary goal. For example, humanitarian aid is not considered development assistance because its main goal is to respond to a crisis, not to engage in the development of the economy or welfare.
The debate currently under discussion in countries providing aid of either form to Sudan is which one should be prioritized, or used more often. Military aid is often used as a prerequisite to developmental aid because, if successful, it can lead to stability in the recipient nation and pave the way for peaceful organizations that can implement development aid, such as improvements in industry, agriculture, and infrastructure. Margaret Taylor from the Council on Foreign Affairs writes, “Militaries are indispensable for restoring order and maintaining post-conflict security through multilateral peacekeeping missions. In addition, militaries should take the lead in building the capacity of other military forces to contribute to regional and international peacekeeping efforts [and] should also be involved in security-sector reform.” However, this can be problematic, as it involves arming rebels and other militants on the ground, which can lead to more death and violence rather than paving the way to a safer environment.
Development aid is much safer. It involves NGOs such as Doctors without Borders, and governmental organizations like UNICEF. It spans a broad area of aid and development in third world countries. Like many of its neighboring countries, Sudan lacks effective infrastructure and education, and suffers attacks from terrorist organizations such as Boko Haram, a group of individuals who target hospitals and schools operating out of Sudan and neighboring unstable countries. Development aid can provide a more peaceful approach to preventing and obstructing existing terror groups. Joseph Young of American University and Michael Findley of Brigham Young University published a study that found that, “on average, a one standard deviation increase in education aid is expected to decrease the count of terrorist attacks by 71%… health aid is expected to cause [similar decreases] by 39% [and] governance and civil society aid is expected to cause [similar decreases] by almost 40%.” The Journal of International Affairs “confirms the effectiveness of foreign aid to reduce the number of terrorist attacks originating from the recipient country…[while] foreign military interventions are also counter-productive and seem to be a strong attraction factor for terrorists.”
As well as economic problems, the nations of the Sahel and specifically Sudan do not have infrastructure that can support an economically developed nation. Infrastructures are in serious need of aid. According to President of the African Development Bank Donald Kaberuka, “the current needs of infrastructure in Africa are about U.S. $92 billion a year. At the moment we can monetize from all sources only half that amount – about $50 billion.” According to Tim McCully of the Huffington Post, “If we are ever going to break the cycle of hunger and malnutrition that threatens lives every few years in West Africa, we have to scale up the investment in resilience, starting with stable and strong agricultural foundations in vulnerable communities.” And according to African Union Commission Chairperson Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, “If we connect communities and countries through infrastructure and market linkages…we will create the conditions for lasting peace, prosperity and the renaissance of the Sahel.”
Even though developmental assistance has a lot of benefits, it is very difficult to implement and execute. According to Martin C. Steinwand of Stony Brook University, “aid flows are often unstable and uncertain. Foreign aid revenues are up to forty times more volatile than government revenue.” This volatility in the aid itself destabilizes the dependents of this aid, as they are unable to function without it. As a result, recipient governments are put in a tenuous position, without reliability in promising future resources. According to Richard A. Nielson for Political Science, “During aid shocks, potential rebels gain bargaining strength vis-à-vis the government. To appease the rebels, the government must promise future resource transfers, but the government has no incentive to continue its promised transfers if the aid shock proves to be temporary. With the government unable to credibly commit to future resource transfers, violence breaks out.” In fact, recipient governments will even abuse donor nations for their own corrupt benefit. Sudan, being in a civil war, is simply too unstable to support developmental assistance without military aid being implemented first in order to promote stability. The two need to be used in conjunction in order to be effective.
The United States, the EU, the UN, and NGOs provide billions of dollars a year in aid to Sudan and Africa. Most of it is split between military and development aid. As time goes on, we will see which form of assistance proves most effective; for now, both forms have had beneficial effects, whether in conjunction with each other, like in Cote D’Ivoire (the Ivory Coast, a nation in the west of Africa), or alone, such as the military operations in Mali and Nigeria and development assistance efforts in Burkina Faso. Sudan will require both forms of aid, as it is in a turbulent period of history. It is the duty of the organized nations of the world to provide aid to stabilize Sudan and create a nation that may develop into an industrialized economic force.