Sample Essay The Effects of War and Peace on Foreign Aid

The Effects of War and Peace on Foreign Aid


War refers to an event that is characterized by the presence of vicious conflict, including excessive aggression, societal disorder and high mortality. In most cases, war is a pre-planned activity that is offset by the haggles between different groups or factions with the intention of altering either the psychological hierarchy or the material hierarchy of domination or equality amid two or more groups. On the other hand, peace refers to a situation of concord, that is distinguishable by the absence of violence, hostility, retribution and the freedom from the fear of conflict.

Both the aspects of war and peace have heavily influenced the attraction and distribution of foreign aid among the sub-Saharan developing countries (Anderson, 1999). This paper seeks to evaluate the positive and negative effects of the two aspects on foreign aid on a specific sub-Saharan country, in this case, Rwanda. It also intends to assess the actions that the leadership of Rwanda has undertaken in terms of using foreign aid to relieve severe problems that were caused by warfare in the country. The paper will further discuss the effectiveness of extension of foreign aid as a means of reducing poverty and incidence of warfare in Rwanda ( Ansoms, 2008).

The Positive and Negative Effects of Peace and War on Foreign Aid

All authoritarian regimes in sub-Saharan Africa are well aware that foreign aid disbursements are founded on helping to address the needs of the poor. The fact that most of these countries anticipate foreign aid, has led their governments to become complacent and do little in terms of improving the welfare of the poor people. After winning annual pledges of foreign aid, such governments often start misbehaving and backpedal on economic reforms once they have been allocated the pledged aid. Consequently, such regimes breed great dissatisfaction and rebuke, with the country placating the beneficiaries by pledging the aid anew (Anderson, 1999).

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Foreign aid has often been associated with exchange conditions which are either expressively or implicitly revealed between the donor and the recipient nation. Donors perceive aid as a means of effecting positive change in terms of economic development and enhancing political stability. In economic terms, particularly lessons from the Bretton Woods Institutions suggest that a structural adjustment program that entails thinning of the public administration, privatization of public companies and decreasing military expenditure, will profit the entire economy and hence alleviate the poor living conditions of the people in Rwanda. From the political angle, the donors suggest that indispensable economic reforms are necessary for the stabilization of the socio-political setting (Anderson, 1999).

In other terms, aid is viewed as an instrument of creating and ensuring lasting peace in Rwanda and other developing countries. Although the particular process for doing this is hardly ever definite, experts often argue that wealthier nations and citizens are least likely to go to war.  This is apparently one of the reasons why global institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank regard and handle Rwanda as a ‘special case’ and provide it with critical loans even though they do not live up to IMF criterion. Rwanda has made significant progress in terms of governance and economic reforms and has even sent its army for peacekeeping missions in the DR Congo.

Conditions Imposed by the Donors

When pledging aid, the donor(s) and the recipient country normally have a mutual agreement on a set of principles, terms or promises and conditions to be followed by both parties. In this case, the donor pledges continuous support depending on how committed the recipient country adheres to the promises and agreement. Recipient nations in question often promise to work for democracy, fight corruption, improve expenditure in social circles and reduce military expenses among other pledges.

The Rwandese government is not exempted from such pledges and the donors have always insisted that continued aid and pledges are tied to both ideal political and economic conditions. For instance, some of the conditions that Rwanda has to meet include according respect to and upholding the Lusaka Accords. This entails government withdrawal of the Rwandese troops from the DR Congo and cutbacks in military expenditures. Rwanda also has to have the least amount of net foreign assets in the National Bank of Rwanda and encourage privatizations. Other promises imposed on these declarations, are concerns regarding democratic progress, respect for human rights and freedoms as well as good governance.

Impact of Foreign Aid in Rwanda’s Leadership and Poverty Levels.

It has been more than nineteen years since the genocide event that devastated Rwanda, but the country still experiences a sequence of repression (Andrew, 2008). Even though foreign aid has been crucial in alleviating poverty and other bad conditions, the same aid has apparently  beenperpetuating the crisis because it is being used to keep the minority group (the elite Tutsis) in control while intentionally restricting the advancement and economic development of the vast majority population (the Hutus).

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A staggering economy coupled with distressed citizens prompted the international community to quickly roll out a program to rebuild Rwanda by pouring in substantial amounts of foreign aid, which is recorded as one of the highest amounts ever given to the sub-Saharan nations (Andrew, 2008). Two disputable factors can help to explain the approach of donors in extending aid to Rwanda. The first reason is the guilty complex that haunts the international community for having failed to prevent the death of thousands of civilians while the second is the appointment of the Hutus to the highest positions of Prime Minister and the President, including other key posts in different departments of the government( Ansoms, 2008).

Apparently, it has become evident that the above factors were simple public relations moves aimed at reducing the internal and external resistance. Since that time, voices of opposition have been silenced completely, yet there have been no changes in aid policy or in foreign relations with the international community (Collier & Hoeffler, 2004).

Poverty is a social problem that significantly affects magnitudes of populations and different cultures in Rwanda as well as other sub-Saharan nations, and this has raised heated debates to come up with the most effective way(s) to eradicate this problem. To this effect, foreign aid was expected to be a decisive solution that could help to reduce poverty and also act as a key driver of appropriate developmental shafts in socioeconomic spheres (Collier & Hoeffler, 2004). Nevertheless, a new problem has arisen with respect to the legitimacy and efficacy of foreign aid as a means of enhancing, boosting, helping, facilitating or propelling socioeconomic development and reducing the levels of extreme poverty to zero levels (Andrew, 2008).

In Rwanda, there is high imbalance of incomes and increased poverty in many areas and the country has been experiencing a decline of the living conditions especially for the people at the bottom of the income distribution, and those in the rural areas (Collier & Hoeffler, 2004). Consequently, the country has been on the verge of exhausting its capability in reducing poverty rates through the use of economic growth solely. In addition to undermining social peace, increasing levels of inequality have been an obstacle to the efforts and causes of poverty reduction and promotion of sustainable growth (Arne Bigsten and Jörgen Levin, n.d).

By failing to realize that ethnic conflict did not disappear with the genocide Rwanda’s pathway to peace has been disrupted, and this has also jeopardized the fight against poverty. Evidence from available data on the economy strongly indicates that beneath the economic policies of the government, lurks the same antagonism that historically fueled the ethnic violence that drove the nation to genocide.  This is said to have contributed to the noticeable high income differences that reflect obviously biased policies against the Hutus. Judging from the historical records, it is very obvious that the present situation is mirrors the circumstances of the late 1950s that drove into exile the parents of the present Tutsi elites (Arne Bigsten and Jörgen Levin, n.d).

The international community has continued to extend aid to Rwanda, hence intentionally or unintentionally favoring the Tutsis over the Hutus. The Tutsis, who are the minority in terms of demographics, are the current governing elites, who occupy the urban centers and the capital city while the Hutu majority mostly reside in the countryside. The disbursed aid only reaches and benefits the minority group and it has been alleged that the current President of Rwanda fears that his power is threatened by the Hutus, hence has maintained poor conditions in the rural areas where majority of them reside so as to thwart any threats.  This implies that there is a likelihood of history repeating itself should the dissatisfied Hutu majority start an uprising.


In order for actual peace and development to take place in Rwanda, it is necessary to break  cycle of long term, elite rule and the support of aid. It is apparent that the current framework of leadership does not support this ideology and the aid disbursed only reaches the few elite, leaving the majority impoverished and perpetuating the conflict in the process.  The mistake of the late 1950s were repeated in the early 1990s and this resulted in the genocide, which scarred both Rwanda and the international community for having failed to intervene. In other words, unless the current government takes into account the interests of all citizens, Rwanda will not be efficient in its efforts to fight poverty or attain long term political stability. Consequently, donors need to revise foreign aid policies with Rwanda so that they ensure that the disbursed aid reaches and serves the interests and needs of the Rwandese people regardless of their ethnic backgrounds, or geographical locations.

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An Ansoms (2008) «A green revolution for Rwanda? The political Economy of Povertyand Agrarian change », Discussion paper, University of Antwerp

Anderson, M. B. (1999). Do no harm: how aid can support peace-or war. Lynne Rienner Publishers.

Andrew  Sullivan  (2008),  Rwanda:  a  nation  with  a  dark  past  and  tenuous  future,  The McGill Tribune, 4 mars.

Arne Bigsten and Jörgen Levin « Growth,  Income distribution and Poverty, A review »,United Nations University, WIDER, Discussion Paper No. 2001/129.

Collier, P., & Hoeffler, A. (2004). Aid, policy and growth in post-conflict societies. European economic review, 48(5), 1125-1145.