The debate, which will run until Friday, has already started.
Steven Radelet tries to find a middle ground and defends foreign aid successes and its impact, if moderate, on growth...
There is no question that too much aid has gone to plundering dictators like Jean-Bédel Bokassa [Central Africa Republic], Ferdinand Marcos, and Baby Doc Duvalier [Haiti], or otherwise wasted on bad ideas badly implemented. And average income in Africa is about the same as it was two generations ago. But that is just one part of the story.
Millions of lives have been saved through large-scale health interventions, many of them supported by aid programs. Routine immunizations save three million lives every year, small pox was eradicated, polio has been nearly eradicated, and there has been enormous progress in fighting river blindness, guinea worm, diarrheal diseases, and others. Life expectancy has gone up around the world.
On economic growth, despite popular misconceptions, the vast bulk of research over the last decade has found that while aid is not the most important ingredient in stimulating growth, overall it has had a modest positive impact.
... and William Easterly replies bashing top-down plans such as the PRSPs or the MDGs, by “experts” from the UN, IMF or the World Bank (where he spent 16 years as a Research Economist) and claims that the right response is to shift resources to bottom-up researchers and to increase accountability from aid agencies so that aid actually reaches the poor.
The right response is to demand accountability from aid agencies for whether aid money actually reaches the poor. The right response is to demand independent evaluation of aid agencies. The right response is to shift the paradigm and the money away from top-down plans by “experts” to bottom-up searchers—like Nobel Peace Prize winner and microcredit pioneer Mohammad Yunus—who keep experimenting until they find something that works for the poor on the ground. The right response is to get tough on foreign aid, not to eliminate it, but to see that more of the next $2.3 trillion does reach the poor.
Watch a video of a similar debate (including Easterly and Radelet).
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Also at the CGD Blog