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PSPD  l  People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy

  • Int. Solidarity
  • 2016.07.26
  • 1682

‘Korea Aid’, nonsensical development cooperation and diplomacy must be repealed 


It is nothing but a shameful and disposable event disregarding the purpose of the ODA and international convention.

 

On June 1st, President Park Geun-hye finished her visit to three African nations. According to the press release, a mobile development cooperation project ‘Korea Aid’ was launched in Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya as a result of the visit. The press reported that a vehicle equipped with medical devices, food and audio-visual system will be visiting different villages to provide necessary services. However, it seems obvious that the project has been improvised because of the visit of the president. It is simply a onetime event that ignores not only the intention of the ODA but also the principles and the efforts of the international society to increase the effectiveness of foreign aids. The opinions and the demands of local residents were, without doubt, neglected. It is such a shame on Korean ODA, and thus, this nonsensical development cooperation project ‘Korea Aid’ must be repealed right away.   

The health sector of Korea Aid for girls, women of childbearing age, and maternity claims that it will provide ultrasound pictures. The fact that the maternal and neonatal mortality of African region was mentioned as the third goal of the SDGs of the international society demonstrates that seriousness of this problem. Then, should providing baby pictures be considered the urgent priority in this region? Most of the people in African countries use local health clinics and have very little faith in medical services provided by foreigners. Hence, supporting local clinics to function properly would be the more sustainable way to provide health care services to the African residents. Because the locals cannot rely on irregular mobile services, having residing health care providers is also essential. However, Korea Aid does not consider any of these facts. This haphazard project would not have been created if the opinions of the residents and the experts were heard, and there was some understanding on development cooperation standards authorized by the international society.


There is also a lot of doubt on the purpose and the effectiveness of K-Meal, the food sector of Korea Aid. Its purpose is to improve the nutritional state of the underprivileged by providing Korean dishes such as two kinds of rice products and Bibimbap. First of all, K-Meal’s ambition to improve the nutritional state using these meals is absurd and unachievable. In addition, it completely ignores the local culinary culture whose main dishes are consisted of different types of rice and food from those used the Korean cuisine. Therefore, this is nothing but a onetime event with no respect to which of necessary nutrition the locals lack, whether there is a way to supplement it with local ingredients, whether involved governments plan to provide support.  Simply introducing and tasting Korean food should not be disguised as a project to improve the nutritional state of the local residents.

 

What about the cultural projects run by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism? Their main programs are showing health education movies and introducing Korean culture with a single truck. Episodes in health, sanitation and gender sensitive movies are unrelated to the current situation of African girls. For example, the episode about educating girls who refuse to go to school does not reflect the lack of opportunities for African girls to be educated because of house chores, early marriage, and pregnancy. Apart from these “educational” videos, they plan to show video clips about Korean culture, tourism, national image, Pyeongchang Winter Olympic, K-pop music video and Korean movies in the truck. Samulnori, Taekwondo and B-boy performances could also be added later. None of these projects can possibly considered a development cooperation project. Shamefully, it reveals that the government, which treats ODA as a mean of promoting Korean wave, has a low awareness level regarding global cooperation projects. 

 

As stated above, Korea Aid is consisted of projects, which fail to take local conditions into account and are far below international standards because they are planned hastily to show off the president’s visit to Africa. Korea Aid is not mentioned anywhere in the 2016 and the 2017 General Plan of ODA reviewed by the Korean Official Development Assistance Council under the Prime Minister’s Office. Lousy plans were unavoidable, given that the Blue House has demanded ministries ignorant of the ODA to propose ODA projects.    

 

The international society has been reconsidering hardware centered development cooperation such as buildings, facilities and equipment, and is now giving a priority to effectiveness, responsibility and sustainability of the development plans. It has already been long since the international aid switched its attention to increasing the capability and the ownership of recipients by focusing on supporting efforts of recipients that are trying to enhance their system and providing aid to strengthen the software. Korea Aid is not only digressing away from the global trend of raising the quality of the aid but also destroying the efforts and the outcomes to improve the Korean ODA system accordingly to the standards and the recommendations agreed in the international society. ODA should not be misused for unpredictable and shameful events, and Korea Aid must instantaneously be repealed.   
 

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