Back in 2011 I did a car trip from Cape Town to Cairo. Countries became visibly poorer the further north we went. And aid agencies -- United Nations and other NGOs -- visibly proliferated in their tinted-windowed Land Cruisers. I spoke to some of their staff, in Addis Ababa and Khartoum. I was shocked at their self-serving attitudes. They were there just as a career step. Each of these expatriates cost $US 500,000 per year when their accommodation, home visits, salaries and allowances were added up. Imagine that half a million instead given direct to women. I thought at the time that would be a better use of the money and it turns out from reading since that other observers of the foreign aid scene believe the same.
I'd read at the time how ineffective aid agencies were in addressing the problems they'd identified to be tackled. All this I noted in a blog at the time ("cape to Cairo 2011").
Below a link to a damning report by a long-term foreign aider. Ore the massive drops in poverty rates in China and India. In both cases from their own efforts, economically based, and not from foreign aid.
Despite many reports and books on the failures of foreign aid programs, western countries treat their foreign aid budgets as sacrosanct, immune from criticism.
Not only is foreign aid costing us. It's costing recipients as well.
By far the most dramatic growth and consequent shift in poverty has occurred in China. The World Bank, looking at several countries during the quarter century between 1981 and 2005, concluded that poverty rates for China went from 84% to 16%—a drop of 81%, and for India from 60% to 42%—a drop of 30%. At the beginning of this period (1981) only four countries had a worse poverty rate than China—Cambodia, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Uganda. But decades later these four countries remain more or less where they were, while China moved ahead. Why? India began to move ahead rapidly after 1991. Why? The answer is complex—a mix of culture, changes in government policy, and changes in arrangements in the political economy. But what most of these dramatic changes don't correlate with is foreign aid. Aid has resulted in remarkably few significant shifts in economic growth and poverty reduction. The truth is much of aid's promise has come up empty.
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