Archive for the ‘International Development’ Category

The Aid Debate: Sachs v. Easterly

As of late, I have developed a minor obsession with foreign aid and its effectiveness. After reading Dambisa Moyo’s book, Dead Aid, I became extremely interested in the topic of aid, looking at whether aid helps recipient societies or actually hurts them through engendering aid dependency, corruption, etc. (I think by now everyone has come to recognize my non-sexual female crush on Moyo). Easterly and Moyo both make poignant arguments about the lack of aid effectiveness, including the fact that (extremely) large sums of money (think $2.3T in the last half century or so) have been funneled into foreign aid with no real growth to show for it. Moreover, there are a number of aid recipients that are worse off now than they were before. Surely, aid has a direct effect on bettering the living standards of a certain number of individuals here and now, but in terms of long-term poverty alleviation/eradication (eradication’s probably an entirely too ambitious term), is aid really where it’s at? Sachs, who penned, ‘The End of Poverty,’ is the former director of the UN Millennium Development Goals and is super pro-aid; he sees aid as a large and beneficial factor in development and has continually pushed for a large boost in aid. I’ve continued to look into all of their arguments (plus arguments of Paul Collier) to figure out where I stand on the matter… as for now, I tend to lean towards the side of Easterly & Moyo.

I found this fantastic write-up done in 2007 that puts Sachs up against Easterly in a discussion about foreign aid and it’s effectiveness in the development arena. Check it out. Perhaps it’s just the idea of these two brilliant (and somewhat dichotomous) men having it out that makes me love academia (and academics). Even more, it makes me love that we live in a world where people can voice their opinions on these types of matters freely.

For anyone else out there that finds this debate interesting, here are a few fun links to help you stay connected.

– Check out William Easterly’s Blog

– Check out Dambisa Moyo’s Website

– Check out the Center for Global Development’s work on Aid Effectiveness

– Follow Dambisa Moyo on Twitter

– Follow William Easterly on Twitter

– Watch Moyo speak at LSE on January 26th!

– Watch the debate: Moyo vs. Alison Evans (ODI)



Boo on Reality. It’s Finally Setting In…

December is coming to a close which means January is right around the corner! Before January 11th rolls around and Lent Term begins, I have a dissertation proposal to write and a summative essay to conclude. Ideally, both will be done well (let’s all cross our fingers for distinction). On top of that, real life has begun to hit me: although last term was challenging, this term is going to be a real feat. Not only do we have to concern ourselves with normal coursework, but most of our graded coursework is due at the end of this term/beginning of Summer Term, plus we have to get a substantial start on our dissertations, plus there’s the whole job/internship situation if we actually want to put our education to use (I like to think that most of us do).

Knowing that we’ll be 100% done in 9 short months is a little daunting. Most people are leaving before then — off to law school, other professional programs or back to their homelands to send in their dissertations. Theoretically, we can all go back home in July and submit our dissertations via courier. For some of the direly homesick, this is a great option. I, on the other hand, have been wanting to drag out my European excursions for as long as humanly possible! I’m loving London life (aside from the occasional mild bout of homesickness) and have thoroughly enjoyed my ability to travel and meet some amazing people along the way. Thinking of all of this coming to an end is saddening (and an impetus to pursue a PhD). So, this term is going to be a full one: normal coursework, a trip to Cumberland Lodge with my program, a summative ‘project planning’ submission, a dissertation to begin, careers to investigate, jobs for which to apply, summative essays to submit and preparation for exams in May/June. On the bright side, I also get to look forward to some special visitors this term! My cousins are coming at the end of January for a visit, Chris is hitting up Londontown in February, and my dad and sister are coming during my break for a two-week, three to four-country mini tour (England, France, the Netherlands & maybe Scotland)! Hopefully seeing all of their bright, smiling faces will help in getting through the term and alleviating a bit of my homesickness (and hold me over until I return back to the US).

Also, I must wish my friend, Pooja, congratulations on getting her first acceptance to law school! She’s the perfect example of a girl who has her stuff together: finishing her Masters and off to start law school all before the tender age of 22 — talk about motivation! On that note, I’m off to look for jobs/PhD programs to feel like less of a delinquent.

Here’s to Lent Term and to facing reality!

On an amazingly bright note, Lent Term marks the welcoming of one Dambisa Moyo, author of Dead Aid, and I am going to be 1st in line to see her! I’ve decided to make a concerted effort to take advantage of the university’s speakers and public lectures. We get some amazing visitors at our school (Presidents, Prime Ministers, Queens, Scholars, etc.) and now is the time to get to see them in person!

More Moyo for Moi.

I just finished reading  a newly published book entitled Dead Aid: Why Aid is Not Working and How There is Another Way for Africa by Dambisa Moyo, a Zambian native. Born and raised in Zambia, she has worked for Goldman Sachs and at the World Bank as a consultant. She obtained her Masters from Harvard and her PhD in Economics at Oxford and, all in all has some amazing, eye-opening (albeit controversial) views on the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of aid in Africa. The foreword, which was written by Niall Ferguson, problematizes the idea of the public debate on Africa’s economic problems being conducted by ‘non-African white men’ (Jeffrey Sachs, William Easterly, Paul Collier, etc.) and ‘rock stars’ like Bono and Bob Geldof. It follows that having a book of this magnitude written by an African woman makes it that much more salient. I found the text so eye-opening, in fact, that I’ve been flirting with the area of aid dependency as a dissertation topic; it is an area that I find incredibly interesting and somewhat controversial. Four books currently gracing my desk? The White Man’s Burden (Easterly 2006), Organizing US Foreign Aid (Lancaster 2005), Foreign Aid: Diplomacy, Development, Domestic Politics (Lancaster 2007) and Aid to Africa (Lancaster 1999).

Though I have always been a self-diagnosed proponent of the ‘pro-aid model,’ I have found myself delving into loads of literature that has changed my point of view (the flexibility of one’s mind is one of the things I love about being a grad student). Moyo is one of many academics/economists/intellectual forces that has criticized aid, and the reasons that she brings to the forefront are hardly unsubstantiated. In fact, it would seem that if most people were given the facts on aid in the way that she presents them, very few people would be proponents of doling out the huge amount of systematic aid that we do. She suggests that Africa has not only not been able to development due to large aid inflows, but it continues to flounder in a state of poverty because of aid. Due to the corrupt nature of government, bilateral and multilateral funding is easily stolen/misused by those in power. Additionally, due to the fact that elites end up with access to aid, people are that much more compelled to fight for powerful positions, further engendering violence and hostility. Regardless of your stance on aid, I highly recommend picking it up. It’s a relatively easy read and it has a lot of great information.

One of my coursemates sent me a video of this debate between Dambisa Moyo and Alison Evans, the head of the ODI. It’s 22 minutes long, but it’s definitely worth checking out. Also, if you want more Moyo, here’s a shorter clip (under 10 minutes) from a CNN segment.

Now I’m off to read some Easterly — I’ll let you know if my views change (yet again)!

Happy learning!

No Hunger Initiative.


On June 19th, the FAO published a report noting that there are more hungry people than ever in the world: over 1 billion. Acute malnutrition affects around 55 million children worldwide and leads to five million childhood deaths each year. The saddest part is that it’s preventable; we can do something to help.

Join Action Against Hunger’s international initiative, No Hunger, and let’s encourage Al Gore to make his next film about global hunger, a crisis that is killing one child every six seconds. This website features a trailer for No Hunger and a petition to the former VP. In the same way that An InconvenientTruth helped generate educated discussion and reshaped perceptions of climate change, No Hunger could help attract  the public support needed to help reach malnourished children.

The No Hunger initiative, which began in Madrid, has already collected more than 64,000 signatures and will be presented to Al Gore in December at the climate change conference in Copenhagen.

Sign the petition!

Unlike cures for many diseases, treatment for sever acute malnutrition isn’t expensive. It costs roughly $50 and prescription drugs aren’t required; instead, it relies on nutrient-dense, ready-to-use food products such as plumpy’nut, that can take a child from the brink of death and restore him or her to health in as little as six weeks.

Check out a video report on plump’nut by Anderson Cooper here.

It only takes a few seconds and it may be able to make a huge difference on the way people view hunger. Let’s help!

Signature Stamp - Shannon

Also, I was actually going to post a picture of what a truly malnourished child looks like, but the images were so disturbing that I couldn’t bring myself to actually put them up. Take a moment and see what malnourished children look like; it’s heart-wrenching. 

Shop Shamelessly!

charity : water necklace

Hello Kiddos!

You may or may not have noticed a new tab on my website. If you didn’t, I can’t hold it against you. It’s brand, spanking new and it’s calling your name! {Please seeThe Scholar’s Shoppe located above!} After a fair bit of research and checking out the American Institute of Philanthropy’s site, I found a number of websites with super cool (and cute!) products that would make anyone happy! Better yet, these purchases make more than one person happy — when you purchase any of the items listed, a percentage of the proceeds from the item(s) goes back to the given organization to help fund their charitable endeavors. I tried to compile a veritable slew of organizations and items to please a broad range of people with a broad range of tastes. There are shirts, scarves, bags, necklaces… even scented colored pencils! While assembling the list of charities and organizations, I tried to find the cutest products (that I personally love!) that contributed the largest portion of proceeds back to the organization. Many of the products give 50-65% back and some give even more!

Please take a moment to peruse The Scholar’s Shoppe when you have some free time and take a gander at some glorious gifts that give back. If you know of an organization with super fun items that isn’t currently listed, let me know! I’m more than happy to add them to the list if their organization and their products are legit. 

Much love & happy shopping,

Signature Stamp - Shannon

charity : water

I have heard of charity : water before, but I had not really taken the time to peruse their website to find out more about the non-profit and their goals. After poking around their site, I couldn’t not write about them! The charity is really an inspiration and a wake-up call to those of us who take water for granted.

A billion people — that’s one in six of the world’s human beings — don’t have access to the water that their body needs. For many of these people, the only source of water that they know is polluted to the point that would repulse our nation’s homeless population. It’s truly hard for us to imagine a world without such a basic necessity — we can drink clean water from a tap, take a shower, brush our teeth, flush a toilet and wash our clothing and dishes in a machine without giving it a second thought. For many men, women and children in developing nations, however, that is not the case. Some have to walk miles and wait hours to find the water necessary to live. 

What’s really amazing:
$20 will give a person water for 20 years.

Absorb the enormity of that. $20 that we spend on a dinner or another useless techy gadget can give a fellow human being water for the next twenty years of their life. Check out pictures and follow the lives of some of these individuals, or, if possible, help out by donating and giving charity : water the ability to build wells for people in need.

For my fellow fashionistas, check this out:


Monique Pean has created these designs for charity : water and they’re absolutely gorgeous! They’re not cheap, the necklaces range from $340 for the “water” necklace to $750ish for the water droplet, but 50% of the profits go directly to the organization to help people in need!

Hope you guys are as inspired as I am!

Lots of love,

Signature Stamp - Shannon

Such a Catch-22!

I need to voice my frustration for a moment: Recently I have been looking for entry-level global health positions to apply for upon graduating next year. As I have perused the job archives of the World Health Organization, the Public Health Institute, Center for Collaborate Development and every other public/global health entity I could find, I noticed they all had one (irritating) thing in common: “Advanced Degree + 2 years experience in desired field.” Really? The entry-level positions are intended for people who are trying to gain experience in global health policy and management, yet to be competitive for one of these positions you have to have experience. Well, that sure makes it difficult. How can you acquire experience if no one gives you the opportunity to GAIN experience?! The only real options, of course, are internships (which are either unpaid or paid expenses only, typically) or a volunteership, both of which don’t help in paying back my student loans. I understand the value of an internship, believe me. I know that having an advanced degree does NOT translate into real world experience and I totally get that. However, if I realize that and thus am applying to entry-level, relatively low paying positions in which to GAIN said experience (I’m cool with the whole paying-your-dues, starting-from-the-bottom-deal) shouldn’t I be allowed a place to learn and to put my degree to work? If they’re looking for volunteer experience or internship experience, a high school kid doing summer mission trips could gain relative knowledge in this; doesn’t education count for something? I mean, maybe instead of needing two years experience, perhaps having an experience from which you grasped a great deal of knowledge or inspriation would suffice? In any case, I’m coming to grips with the fact that I’m going to be a starving young professional for about two years post-graduation. And, as I am considering a Dr.P.H. program in the future, I need two years of post-degree public/global health-related work to be eligible and competitive for any legitimate programs (I’ve had my eye on the UC Berkeley program!) which means I’m in desperate need of finding a way to pay back student loans while gaining knowledge in the real world. Man… I hate dealing with money. Boo.

Hope everyone has a great weekend! I will be studying for my last week of undergraduate finals EVER <3.