The traditional model of aid in Africa has long been dominated by a top-down approach, often rooted in the legacy of Western nations ‘helping’ Africa through humanitarian and financial assistance. This colonial model of funding has resulted in dependency, ineffective aid delivery, and a lack of sustainable accountability for the aid projects. Based on this view, the Centre for Research Training and Publications (CRTP) in collaboration with the Movement for Community-led Development (MCLD) on 14th June, 2024 organized a webinar to discuss the concept of decolonizing aid in Africa. The main objective of the webinar was to explore the concept of decolonizing aid in Africa. The discussion featured principles of decolonizing Aid, ways of transforming the way people think about international development and peace-building, practical steps and strategies to transform the current aid system, harnessing the power of communities as well as other alternate ways of improving international development and humanitarian aid in Africa.

The hybrid event brought together different stakeholders, including policymakers, development practitioners, researchers, and community leaders, to share insights, experiences on decolonizing Aid in Africa. Over 150 online participants registered and attended the meeting virtually while 16 participants were present physically during the event held at Hekima Institute of Peace Studies and International Relations (HIPSIR) Hekima University College, Nairobi Kenya. During the first presentation on the concepts of decolonizing aid in Africa, it was evident that institutional failures such as bad governance, lack of accountability, corruption, social inequalities and injustices, illicit financial flow, debt dependency, and psychological liberation challenges has stagnated the process of transforming the current aid system in Africa. For instance, during the discussion it was marked that in 2022, African governments allocated about 12% of their revenues to servicing debt, highlighting their severe financial constraints. The debt burden restricts the ability of African nations to finance development and respond to crises effectively. This calls for the need to decolonize aid in Africa.

The major question that arise from the discussion is whether the institutions such International Monetary Funds (IMF) and World Bank are running the African countries. For example, in 2023 the IMF executive board approves and agreed to fund the following  Africa Countries Somali ($100 million), Democratic Republic of Congo ($200.39 million), Rwanda ($262 million), Tanzania ($150 million ,Gambia ($10.9 million), Comoros ($4.7 million) and Senegal ($276 million) (East African newspaper, November 2023). During the conversation, the need to strengthen local organization and local practices to realize the SDG goals was voiced loudly as decolonizing aid calls for working with communities from the grassroots level. One of the models for community-led development models advocated for during the discussion was bottom up model where the needs of the community is approached from community point of view not the donor intended goals and interests. There is also need to involve all the relevant stakeholder in all stages of project development. Further, trust in managing community project fund and project flexibility and sustainability is key in the process of decolonizing aid.

Way forward

  • There is need to practice and embrace the bottom-up approach model of aid funding for Africa countries.
  • There is also need to prioritize local leadership in designing, implementing, and managing aid projects as well as supporting the capacity building of local organizations and institutions.
  • Communities to take active participation and full ownership of aid projects. This will ensure that the local communities have a significant voice in decision-making processes.
  • Reform Funding Mechanisms: The funding strategy should shift directly to local organizations rather than through international intermediaries.
  • Respect and integrate local knowledge, customs, and traditions in aid programs
  • Promote transparency in how aid funds are allocated and spent.
  • Adopt grassroots community movement approach in designing aid projects
  • Advocate for policy changes within donor countries and international institutions to support decolonizing practices.
  • Educate aid workers and donors about the historical and contemporary impacts of colonialism.