Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Dead Aid by Dambisa Moyo

Dead Aid is a brilliant summary of some of the views I have been espousing for many years. The Authoress, unlike me, can back it all up with facts; she is a Zambian, who has worked in the World Bank, and her book is a devastating indictment of foreign aid in Africa. I am sure all the government aid agencies will dismiss it -- they would wouldn't they? And I am sure Oxfam, Christian Aid, St Geldorf and all the others trying to 'Wipe out Poverty in Africa' will dismiss it. And I am sure not every little detail is interpreted exactly right. But I am also sure that the overall thesis has hit the nail on the head.

Foreign aid is the cause of corruption and poverty in most of Africa. And anyone who thinks otherwise should read this book. Before giving another cent or Penny read it.

Emergency aid is one thing, and will always be needed, but so-called 'development aid' is quite a different matter, and this is the aid that actually helps prevent real development, and feeds corruption. And it also has often huge benefits to the donors. In fact after reading Moyo's account it seems that these are the only real long term beneficiaries: pop-stars, politicians and donors get a real feelgood kick out of it, meanwhile the poor get poorer, and the rich get richer.

As she points out, governments seem all to eager to listen to Bono and Geldorf -- but how often do they listen to those who actually live and try to work in Sub-Saharan Africa? Why should a pop-star know more than them?

I would actually go slightly further than Moyo, as I see elements of cultural imperialism in most aid programmes. Pushing cows that produce more milk into African economies, where the majority of the inhabitants are lactose intolerant is a classic example. I would also argue that there is little difference between the cultural imperialism of the 21st century and the Missionary zeal of the 19th century. The end results are not dissimilar: a form of ethnicide.

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