Poverty and profit – the business of development aid

The UN hopes to combat world hunger and poverty by 2030. But more than 800 million people still suffer chronic undernutrition – a quarter of them in Africa.

Hunger is one of the most common reasons why people flee their homelands. Politicians repeatedly say that the causes behind so many people leaving Africa for Europe have to be addressed. Can the development aid work performed by private companies bring about the desired change?

The United Nations has set itself ambitious goals: eradicating poverty and hunger around the world by 2030. To achieve this, state development agencies are increasingly joining forces with the private sector.

Governments claim that public funds are in limited supply, and that additional investment from businesses is necessary in order to achieve leverage effects. The use of entrepreneurial know-how creates a win-win situation for everyone involved, insist the proponents of public-private collaboration in the aid sector.

Critics, however, say that getting private companies involved in development aid was merely a way of promoting foreign trade and has not benefited the hungry.

This documentary analyses the political background behind public-private partnerships in development aid. It looks at seven different models of collaboration in the food and agricultural sector in Kenya, Zambia and Tanzania: from the attempt launched by German companies to increase the productivity of Kenyan potato farmers, to the investment fund that uses development aid money to create returns for investors in Germany via huge soy and maize plantations.

The result of in-depth research, the film reveals the abuse of state development aid money by the private sector, and highlights the fundamental conflict between industrial and small-scale farming. Is collaboration in development aid between private enterprise and the state possible in a way that genuinely benefits local populations?

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