Wealthy countries do not have the obligation to donate to famine and poverty relief

Donations must come from voluntary choice and good will and not a moral obligation. In that regard therefore, the amount an individual or a state wishes to donate is solely their choice. This means that they can therefore donate a little or a substantial amount. Imposing a moral obligation to donation negates the very purpose and definition of donation. Imposing of moral obligation to donate implicitly sacrifices an individual autonomy which is something of immense moral worth.

In McNamara speech for example, the world bank advances loans to the less developed countries that are facing high cases of poverty (McNamara, 1973). In addition, countries are urged to willingly donate to the official development assistant program. The programs and aids that are advanced to these adversely affected countries from the world bank according to McNamara are done willingly without coercion.


Extreme poverty is associated with a number of effects including increase in crime, disease, increased mortality rate, slow development to mention a few. These effects not only affect the countries that are directly affected by poverty but by extension affect the entire globe. Despite all these effects of extreme poverty, it does not increase the obligation of the wealthy to give relief directed to people in extreme poverty.  And hence an increase in the poverty cases does not translate to increased giving. It may increase the willingness of people to give to help the poor not as an obligation but as a personal choice. Giving to the poor is not a moral obligation Utilitarian’s, however hold the position that we have the duty to give extensive aid to strangers who live in poverty, because by donating a small fraction of their income the rich lose nothing of moral significance (Yu, 2018). The same is negated by the social contrast theorists as they view giving not to be a moral obligation.

Utilitarian stand point on world poverty has been heavily coitized for demanding a lot from people especially the rich. In response to the criticisms Singers argument on the utilitarian standpoint is that by the rich giving to the poor it allows an appreciable gain in the quality of life for the disadvantaged and the poor. He adds that the need to help the poor is illustrating a contrasting position of excess. I do not agree because it still takes away an individual’s autonomy to donate.















McNamara, R. (1973) The Nairobi speech. Address to the board of governors [Online]. Available from:http://www.juergbuergi.ch/Archiv/EntwicklungspolitikA/EntwicklungspolitikA/assets/McNamara_Nairobi_speech.pdf

Yu, R. (2018). Against A Moral Obligation to Donate. Retrieved 15 June 2020, from https://medium.com/reformermag/against-a-moral-obligation-to-donate-34342ced899c

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