War at cost of aid in Africa

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Lisa Napoli: The monetary cost of war — a report released today looks at the price tag of Africa’s conflicts since 1990: $284 billion. From Johannesburg, Gretchen Wilson says that’s about equal to the amount of international aid that’s been funneled to Africa.

Gretchen Wilson: The report was released by three nongovernmental organizations, including the British group Oxfam International. It says conflicts in Africa between 1990 and 2005 shrank economies by about 15 percent a year.

That’s because the costs of war go beyond military spending. They include rising inflation, reeling debt, and high unemployment. In many conflicts, natural resources are seized by private individuals, instead of being invested in the nation as a whole.

Some African leaders say that’s money they can’t afford to lose. Funding is needed to curb Africa’s AIDS crisis, as well as to prevent and treat tuberculosis and malaria. Basic education, water and sanitation are also difficult to provide when money’s deflected into wars’ coffers.

In Johannesburg, I’m Gretchen Wilson for Marketplace.

All reporting by Gretchen L. Wilson, © 2007

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