Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Development Aid Controversy

It is worth remembering that while some people may think that development aid workers are out there to save the world, the real picture is never as clear cut. Development aid is becoming increasingly controversial, and many (or even most) projects have done more harm than good. On balance however, I am still of the opinion that the development community is learning (and the project that I am working on is an example of that: a public-private partnership programme for the development of the private sector). Development assistance is simply too important in a world of rising inequalities and social problems for us to cut back on aid. But, the mentality of "all aid is always good" is one that the developed world needs to give up for good.
(for those of you interested enough, you can read a comment of mine on another blog)


alex said...

I read your comment in Dweep's blog. I agree that the problem lies with the implemetantion of the aided projects. Another reason could be that aid is given by foreign countries with certain conditions imposed. these conditions are problematic in nature.
I argue for borrowwing rather than aid as the marginal utility of money borrowed is greater than that of aid. In implementaion, the projects must start from the grass root level.

David said...

It sort of reminds me of the whole Third World Debt campaign and how it took all the focus. People started to believe that writing off the debt would solve all problems, when in fact it was only part of the issue.
Is the development aid issue that significant when compared with the subsidy system that is in place? Western governments (or people) giving with one hand and taking with the other). Agricultural subsidies need to end to European (and N. American) farmers before those in developing countries can 'trade' fairly or significantly raise their standard of living.
Have you seen this website? KickAAs

alex said...

I agree with dje.

Maurice said...

If I had my way, agricultural subsidies would have been slashed years ago. But noone ever listens to me :-(

Seriously though, fully opening European markets to the agricultural products of poor countries (which are largely dependant on agriculture) would probably do more good than all development assistance combined. But try and explain that to the agricultural lobby in Brussels and Paris.

Thanks for the link david (dje).

Having said that: in Rwanda, 95% of the population lives of subsistence farming. Export isn't even an issue for those people yet.

Dweep said...

Thanks for your comments. I replied on my blog but am posting my reply here for you as well (the feed has been fixed)

You put my question rather succintly by asking if aid itself is the problem, or it is simply a matter of implementation. My view has been that aid itself is the problem - which is why I talk of how it impacts the incentives that drive people. That said, as you bring forth, there are also good outcomes that can come from development assistance. Put together, my question, posed to myself, then becomes whether on the whole aid is good or not.

As you mention, this may be a moot point, because according to the Mittelabfluss problem, the aid paradigm will remain. All that one can do is to make it better. On that, I'd encourage you to read the review by Alan Beattie, which explains well why this problem is too complex for an easy answer.

BTW, I looked at your blog but find no mention of the details of your project.

Maurice said...

Thanks for the reply. Do you have a link for the review by Alan Beattie?

There is little easily publishable information on the project I am working on- that's why I have no links or description on my blog. If you send me your e-mail, I can send you a summary.

Maurice said...

For anyone interested, the link is