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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Changing dollars into Zaires: the challenges of a humanitarian aid NGO in the Democratic Republic of Congo, 1965-1972
Author:Rich, JeremyISNI
Periodical:International Journal of African Historical Studies (ISSN 0361-7882)
Geographic terms:Congo (Democratic Republic of)
United States
Abstract:Based largely on written correspondence by members of the American Protestant Church World Service (CWS) in the period 1965-1972, this article examines the role of this faith-based international aid agency in the early years of the Mobutu regime. Focusing on the changing relationships between the CWS and their Congolese partners, a more complicated picture emerges than just one of US Protestant aid funding in the late sixties and early seventies fitting in nicely with US government policy to bolster Mobutu's anti-communist dictatorship. The correspondence shows that Congolese religious leaders and US aid organization staff understood their mutual relationship in very different ways. CWS official van Hoogstraten intended donors and foreign aid workers to have the upper hand in how the available funds were used, the Congolese church leader Jean Bokeleale, on the other hand, contended that foreigners had no right to dictate the Congolese church how the money should be spent. The CWS correspondence reveals that donor decisions to support or cut aid were not guided by evaluation of the effectiveness of their programs, nor, in the first place, by broader issues such as national economic growth and Congolese state policies. The letters show that such decisions were primarily influenced by individual bureaucratic and philosophical disputes. While cold war politics might seem to dictate how aid was distributed and managed, in realtiy the specific actions and views of the various parties brought together by aid were shaping and overriding the influence of global political interests. Notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]