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Foreign Aid Effectiveness: Easterly vs. Radelet debate

Ignacio Hernandez's picture

The Council on Foreign Relations has organized an on-line debate on Foreign Aid Effectiveness between William Easterly and Steven Radelet.


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).


You can also weigh in on the debate by emailing the editors at webmaster (at)


Also at the CGD Blog


Submitted by Dr. Sidney O. Okolo on
From the desk of Dr. Sidney O. Okolo, Professor, Business Consultant, Strategist, and expert in Africa. If the purpose of forign aid is to make profits for the donors and developed countries, then the status-quo is just fine. But if the idea is to help the underdeveloped and developing countries get out of poverty as defined by the World Bank, then we need to take away bias and focus on how to solve the chronic poverty, and what is good for these third world countries. Get experts on developing countries involved in the development and implementation of these programs. Whether it is economic, marketing, leadership, social or other programs that are available for these countries, there are experts in these subject areas and for each continent that can address such issues. Get politics and red tapes out of these programs and think about how to go about helping these countries. Get third parties involved and don't give monies directly to these countries. These third parties could be experts, private organizations, or combination of both. Lets have accountability and not just issuing grants or aid only to have then end up in the hands of self-centered leaders. For decades we have seen monies come and gone, yet no significant improvement has been recorded. Can we try something else for a change and for once get it right? --------------------------------------- Dr. Sidney O. Okolo, PhD. Organization and Management. Professor/Business Consultant/Strategist/Expert in Africa. [email protected] 312-671-4721

Submitted by Anonymous on
i do not believe in foreign aid. It is wasteful money going to corrupt goverments. We are already poor.

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