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- Badly managed aid, especially budget supplements, can lead to Dutch Disease as surely as striking oil or mining diamonds.
- A multi-party system is really not the same as a working democracy.
- The international aid system can be kind of revolting.
- Badly managed aid can do great harm.
- It's bizarre that we're taking major policy advice from rock stars.
Moyo states that when she discusses aid, she’s not talking about humanitarian or emergency aid, "charity-based aid, given to specific organisations and people on the ground, in order to achieve specific things]," or locally-purchased food aid. She is objecting to is budget support. Her book ought to be titled "Dead Budget Supplements," but that is a much less exciting title. Her argument may be targeted, but that’s not how her book is being read by many in the mass media. By choosing to frame it in broad terms - or allowing it to be framed as such - she’s creating a movement against programs she herself supports, such as the distribution of anti-retrovirals, that really are aid.
Modern foreign aid programs (and to an extent welfare policies in wealthy nations) are often criticized for being ineffective (inappropriate solutions that end up unused) or even causing harm (creating a handout mentality, putting rich foreign aid workers in a poor context and causing envy, supporting corrupt authorities). This happens through a mixture of incompetence but with good intentions, and corruption.
Critics of the aid industry include Kamal Kar (of the no-subsidy Community Led Total Sanitation program) and Dipankar Chakraborti (who led in raising awareness of the arsenic in groundwater problem, both of whom are very critical of subsidies in development. See also the insightful blog by an aid worker on these questions, Pyjama Samsara (filtered feed).
Notes and references
- A summary of some of the criticisms, with an aid workers own responses, is given at Customer Review of The Lords of Poverty: The Power, Prestige, and Corruption of the International Aid Business by Graham Hancock - review by Sithara Batcha, May 29, 2006, Amazon.com
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- Aid Watch - just asking that aid benefit the poor - a blog written mainly by William Easterly.
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