The aid debate in 1,000 words


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Mark Doyle from the BBC summarizes the Sachs/Easterly debate in addressing the question: Can aid bring an end to poverty? 

Hilary Benn, Britain's Development Minister, also gets into the discussion. He sticks to the UK's governance line, arguing that government-to-government aid is good for encouraging accountability of recipient governments with their own people.

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Michael Saunby
October 07, 2006

Here's an engineer/scientist's take on this.

"development aid ... cannot work because aid can never replicate the infinitely complex market mechanisms that make countries rich."

So if I were to say that an automobile cannot work because machinery cannot replicate the complexity of a horse - I wouldn't by lying, just misunderstanding the problem.

That's why the scientific method always begins with a (usually unstated) "all else being equal", and why engineers always decompose a problem into smaller pieces before attempting a solution. Then bring the smaller solutions back together to solve the larger problem.

Does aid work? Well there are countless examples of individuals and groups whose lives have been transformed, even saved, by aid - probably many more than have been saved by prayer. One modern criticism is that many approaches to aid aren't "sustainable". I love my planet as much as anyone else by the notion of sustainablity isn't really very scientific, and what seems to make far more sense is scalability. Much aid doesn't seem to scale well at present.

Trade does scale, but although it generated much wealth for developed countries, it wasn't trade that improved diet, education, women's rights, etc. So I believe aid is needed both within, and between societies.

Maybe aid should be seen as gifts. I don't know what others here do, but I give gifts to folks I like. I suppose in some situations I might give someone money or a gift to leave me alone, but it's not something I'd do happily. I also like to give gifts that are useful. Seen in this social context, aid doesn't have to be better than trade, just more appropriate in some situations.

Aisling Bennett
October 03, 2007

deveolpement aid seems to be the feel-good economic policy in most governments.we adopt the approach that if you throw money at something it will go away.This is not the case!