Below is a very interesting and provocative review of new book by a Zambian author, Dambisa Moyo, called ‘Dead Aid’. The arguments in the book might be
seriously flawed if one is to go by this review, but I do agree with the author’s basic premise that international “Aid“, as currently conceived and implemented, does more harm than good. I have always wondered why so few development economists from the South have not tackled this important issue. They have, by and large, left unchallenged the North’s basic assumption that an effective way to tackle underdevelopment in the South, especially in Africa, is to increase “aid” (and private investment) rather than substantially decrease or remove all those unfair subsidies to their agricultural , exports as well as those from their livestock industry, which enter countries of the South at “dumping” prices thereby destroying whole swathes of their agricultural sector -countries where , the majority of the population live off the land.
Thus, at every G-7, G-8, or G-20 meeting, Northern NGOs, who apparently share that assumption, press for an increase in “aid” to the South. UNDP has regularly published statistics showing that the quantity of “aid” (I always put that word in quotation marks because genuine aid means help or assistance and international “aid” is anything but that) delivered to countries in the South is but a fraction of the considerable sum of money of which their highly subsidized agricultural exports deprive those countries. I see that Obama has decided to reduce government subsidies to the U.S. cotton industry, the subsidized exports of which have ravaged cotton farming in West Africa on which millions of families depend for their livelihod. When added to the host of non-tariff barriers (on which development economists from the South have admittedly done a great deal of work) which countries of the North insist on imposing on the South’s exports, such “aid“, even if it might occasionally provide some real relief, is no more than a band-aid.
Dead Aid, Dambisa Moyo
A Zambian Economist Blog Review
The question of international aid to developing countries is one of the most controversial subjects in modern development literature. One simply needs to look at any local bookshop under the “current affairs” section and you are hit with many large and often time consuming volumes on the subject. So when I stumbled on Dambisa Moyo’s book at my favourite bookshop (Waterstones Charing Cross Station), I felt a mixture of delight and nervousness…