Posts Tagged ‘Foreign Aid’

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)

Enjoy!

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!