Dead Aid – Dambisa Moyo

March 25, 2009 § 4 Comments

I just finished reading Dead Aid: Why Aid is not Working and How There is a Better Way for Africa by Dambisa Moyo. I also caught her on The World by Public Radio International on the way home this afternoon. After reading a little more about her, I can say I’m truly impressed. Just to name a few of her accomplishments, Moyo has worked for Goldman Sachs, the World Bank and is on the board of Cambridge University’s Centre for International Business and Management (CIBAM). She has taken macroeconomic issues and applied them to her homeland of Zambia and Africa in a very innovative way.

Below are some highlights from her book and radio interview:

1. Aid is not helping Africa: Her take-home argument is that the $1 trillion dollars in aid that African nations have received in the last 50 years (really puts the $3 trillion dollar bailout in perspective) has actually hurt African nations more than it has helped them. “Moyo illuminates the way in which overreliance on aid has trapped developing nations in a vicious circle of aid dependency, corruption, market distortion, and further poverty, leaving them with nothing but the “need” for more aid.”

2. Why must Africa develop differently than other nations?: Moyo asks why African nations must depend on foreign aid for development instead of following similar paths such as South, Southeast and East-Asian nations. One of her conclusions about foreign aid to African nations is that it is deeply rooted in a sense of pity for the African people. I wonder if there is some post-colonial analysis at work here, or if this alleged pity is just another sense of colonialism through rhetoric and pop-culture instead of militarism and exploitation of resources.

Ultimately, Moyo calls for a hault to aid to increase economic growth in Africa. Although her call for a complete hault to aid (except humanitarian and emergency relief aid) is a bit much, I do agree that there needs to be a major recapitualation of how aid is delivered and used by African nations. This recapitualiation, in my opinion, needs to happen on both the side of the donors and on receivers.

What’re your thoughts? In a global economic crisis, are you among those who think stopping aid is beneficial for all, or those who believe a time like this is as crucial as any to continue aid?

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§ 4 Responses to Dead Aid – Dambisa Moyo

  • Sarah Clemmons says:

    I think that we absolutely have to maintain aid to places that need it. Although discontinuing some aid programs that do not work could be beneficial, the economic benefits in these situations seem very short term. As we have seen through this economic crisis, short term solutions do not often turn into long term solutions.

  • jamesb says:

    actually just caught her on charlie rose and i do think it is worth noting she didn’t suggest ending all aid, but rather that to the governments. it is an important difference that was nicely complemented on the show by the second interviewee, a woman who ran an effective, investment-oriented NGO.

    perhaps a redirection of aid is in order?

  • Seth says:

    I feel a truth in the idea of ‘pity for
    African people’ being the root of foreign aid. It seems wrong and dehumanizing to start aiding with that attitude. Is this situation an example of giving a man a fish instead of teaching to fish?

  • Darshana says:

    If you haven’t, you should watch the documentary “What Are We Doing Here?” – it was made by 4 young Americans and documents their travels through Africa as they questioned the effectiveness of foreign aid there. It was pretty eye-opening, I thought. The conclusion, for me at least, was that aid is currently ineffective, and that the way it is delivered could be drastically changed to make a positive difference. It seems like you would like it.

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