As is the case with most so-called "aid", many people in the First World have no idea about the effect of "aid" and debt to the Third World. It seems that a lot of these efforts at helping the less fortunate are guided by satisfaction of feelings of guilt.
What the Third World needs is trade, not aid. If funds are to be lent to governments, the disbursement of such funds should be very closely monitored.
If your Oxfordshire villagers really want to do something to bring long- term help to people of the Third World, then they should consider campaigning against the extraordinary growth in wealth of Third World politicians and against the secret systems employed by those countries who hold that (stolen) wealth in unnamed accounts. By all means, reduce interest or renegotiate repayments - but the real villains in the crisis should not be allowed to get away with it. Until Third World governments are made accountable for the way they spend loaned money (and many other things that they do) they will not voluntarily become so. And the problem of debt will just rear its ugly head again all too soon.
In my country (Zimbabwe) there are countless stories about how the nation has suffered from the use of debt money - but, in most cases, the borrowed sums cannot be reconciled with the costs of the projects for which they were purportedly loaned. Some of our senior politicians are high up in the list of the world's wealthy. Where did they get it from? All debt- funded projects should be subject to international audit - and so should the politicians.
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