Why Aid Doesn’t Work

7 October, 2013

The first topic I have chosen is “Why Aid Doesn’t Work.” I chose this topic because it seems obvious to me that aid should be beneficial for poor countries. When I first learned that aid was not helpful in many developing countries I was surprised and I was curious to research this topic so that I will know about the drawbacks of aid in developing and underdeveloped countries.
Summary of first article
The first source I found was “Why Aid Doesn’t Work” by Fredrik Erixon. Mr. Erixon is the chief economist of Timbro, a Swedish think-tank, and author of “Aid and Development: Will it Work this Time?” The article “Why Aid Doesn’t Work” was published by BBC News one of the well reputable organizations. Erixon purpose is to investigate the aim of spending considerable amount of aid. He is curious about whether aid will help people to come out of poverty or have negative consequences. Further, he is arguing that it is understandable that no one will oppose the idea of assisting developing world if that support is helpful. He asks, “Is the assistance of developed world helpful for developing countries?” Then he replies that, “I am afraid it does not” (Erixon).
He then supports his argument with following evidence. His, First example of why aids fails is, “Failure of the big push.” Here he argues that many times aid was given to eliminate poverty but it failed to fulfill its goal. To justify his argument he mentioned many facts and figures. For instance, he reveals the fact that African countries are poorer today then in times past because the dependence on aid is increased and due to which GDP in Africa decreased which caused more poverty than economic stability in African countries. He then asks, “Why has aid failed to deliver higher economic growth for developing countries?” He then mentions examples from some African countries and he comes up with the answer that the main reason for failure of aid is corruption and inappropriate decisions by the donor communities. Erixon very regretfully says that increased aid to the countries which are performing better in economic reforms are weakening the process of development. His final argument is that aid can’t reduce poverty by promoting economic growth. Erixon suggests his own viewpoints to overcome this problem. His suggestions are: aid should not be given to those countries where democracy and transparent economic institutions are not developed, and rich countries should open their markets for exports from poor countries.
Summary of second article
The second source I found from Cato Unbound which is a nonprofit organization in the United States. The source is “Why Doesn’t Aid Work?” by William Easterly. Easterly is a Professor at New York University, joint with Africa House, and Co-Director of NYU’s Development Research Institute. Easterly highlighted some very important reasons for the failure of aid in developing countries. Firstly, he draws attention of donor countries towards the main issues regarding aid that most of the times alarming issues have given overly simple solutions. For instance, the fatal diseases like malaria can be treated by $4 to prevent a child but in reality west has spent $2.3 trillion to prevent poor children from such diseases but unfortunately donor countries can’t prevent thousands of children who are dying due to malaria, tuberculosis and other diseases which can be easily treated. He then illustrates that economic development can’t happen through aid, but it is possible by the homegrown efforts of social and political reformers. Secondly, Easterly mentions that feedback and accountability are very necessary to make aid work, and in the absence of these can cause adverse results of aid in poor countries. He further demonstrates that feedback is workable if there will be people who will listen to it and implement suggestions. For accountability, he mentions that aid agencies should be accountable to some specific tasks rather than for every incentive, otherwise it will be difficult. He argues that self-evaluation is also practiced by some aid agencies, but, according to Easterly, most of the time self-evaluation can’t be trustworthy. Finally he comes up with conclusion that eradication of poverty is dream of everyone so to fulfill this why we don’t have the method of “accountability, evaluation, and feedback” so that aid agencies will work properly and more people will get benefit from it.
Summary of the third article
The third source I found was “Foreign Aid: It Makes Us Feel Better, But Does It Works?” from Danish English international newspaper, The Copenhagen Post. This source talks about the viewpoints of Dr Per Pinstrup-Andersen. Pinstrup – Andersen is Danish economist and policymaker who won the 2001 World Food Prize. Pinstrup-Andersen says that in fact aid should be given to needy countries if it is used in the right way. He believes that aid should be given to those countries which allocate their own resources to “achieve poverty, hunger and economic development goals.” Pinstrup-Andersen suggests that there are two very effective ways to spend money successfully. According to him, one is to give money to governments who are interested to help their nations through offering different programs and the other way is to give money to those NGOs which are working for the betterment of poor people in developing countries. Further, the article illustrates that NGOs purpose is to get donations from different nations and for that reason most of the time they are highlighting negative things from developing country and they need certain images of developing countries so that people will donate more and more money. In addition to this, foreign aid is not economic policy for development. That’s why poor countries need constant help from developed world. Jacob Ruben, a project development manager at Danish development organization Quercus Group argues a very significant point: most of the NGOs have objectives like “we are here to help you” instead of “we are here to help you help yourself.” Further, Ruben argues that most Asian countries developed so much in a very few years. His point is that they did not develop due to aid programs, but the reason behind their development is national development policy and poverty reduction policy. Finally Pinstrup-Andersen and many other economists agree that emergency aid is vital to assisting humanitarian disasters.
Advantages of Aid in Developing Countries
I chose this topic because after reading many articles about drawbacks of aid in developing countries I was wondering how aid cannot be helpful. To know about positive sides of aid in underdeveloped and developing countries I chose the topic, “Advantages of Aid in Developing Countries.”

Summary of first source
The first source I found was, “The Truth About Foreign Aid” from The New York Times by Bill Gates. Bill Gates is co-chairman of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Article says that the anti-foreign aid establishment proposes that aid doesn’t work and should be cut across the board. According to the Gates, fact is that many people are willingly donating lots of money to poor countries. According to public opinion research many people believe that aid is either stolen by the corrupt leaders or wasted on ineffective programs. In addition to this they are further claiming that aid doesn’t work even if given to intended recipients. Gates claims that these arguments are not convincing enough because we have many evidences where aid is helpful. For instance the number of children who die every year has decreased from “20 million to 8 million and the number of poor people is declined to one half.” Gates further claims that these massive improvements are results of aid funding programs to buy vaccines and to boost the productivity of farmers across the developing countries. Gates is very optimistic about aid funding programs and claims that many people in Africa were hungry before the emergency aid was introduced and still there are more than 1 billion people who don’t have access to enough food. So, to solve these alarming issues the most powerful solution is to help poor people and farmers. Gates says that new seed and modern forms of harvesting are very useful for farmers to enhance their productivity. Therefore, aid plays a vital role in this regard. Finally, Gates very proudly claims that, “I am proud to live in a world where a stranger’s suffering matters.” Further he mentioned that we have misconception about aid and now it is time to tell the truth that aid is the best way to deal with problems of underdeveloped and developing world.

Summary of second article
The second source I found was, “Foreign Aid Is Not A Waste Of Money” from the newspaper The Telegraph by the current President of Liberia Ms. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Sirleaf argues that “we must aim to abolish the need for aid, but that time has not yet come.” She argues that the debate about overseas aid is very controversial but the devastating earthquake and tsunami in developed countries like Japan needs external humanitarian assistance. Sirleaf says that this debate makes us think about the role of aid in developing countries that it is “potential, affordable, will help in reduction of poverty or instead it will increase corruption.” Further Sirleaf is questioning how we should define poverty in developing counties. For instance, shall we consider “the half billion people who are living on less than a pound for a day, or the one billion people who go hungry every day, or the eight million children who die due to different diseases.” She argues that poverty is a global problem and as world is global village we are more dependent on each other “for security, safety and to face such challenges.” Sirleaf claims that because of aid over the last many years, considerable amounts of people have come out of poverty and are getting relief. She agrees that corruption is biggest problem for aid agencies but due to corruption we cannot stop helping poor people rather we should have anti-corruption efforts. Sirleaf is optimistic about this alternative and she further claims that due to aid it was possible to provide basic human rights to poor people in many countries of Africa. Finally Sirleaf says that aid should be given to developing countries to overcome their problems and to have access to basic human rights.

Summary of third article
The third article I found was “Why Should Europe Help Developing Countries?” this article discuses the interview of Gunilla Carlsson who is Sweden’s Minister for international Development Cooperation. In response to a question, Ms. Carlsson says, in fact EU (European Union) face problems fulfilling aid demands but most of the time EU is successful in providing more jobs for young people, and the EU also supports countries which are in trouble. She says poor countries should also be responsible and they should utilize aid in better way. Further Ms. Carlsson says it is not possible to isolate our self form rest of the world because “Political oppression, resource scarcity, severe droughts, famine, war and other conflicts are happening in our own neighborhood.” She says these countries need our help and we should also understand that supporting developing countries is also beneficial for the economic development of our own country. Further Ms. Carlsson says that the EU needs to assist those countries which are at conflict or post conflict condition and no one is there to support them. Ms. Carlsson responses to her question and she reveals that it is a biggest misunderstanding that we can survive better in the world by our own. Development in world can be achieved through “people trading, interacting and working together” because such interactions endorses, “competition, innovation and investment.” She discloses that it is important to have exchanges with others and she believes that free trade is positive tool to achieve development.
Summary of fourth article
This source I found was “Aid Saves Lives” from the web site of Save A Child: the nonprofit organization which is working in 120 countries to ensure the basic rights of children. This article was written to persuade people about the advantages of aid donated by UK government to poor and developing countries. Many advantages of aid are mention in this article. Such as in 2012 aid from UK was used to prevent 2.7 million mothers and children from hungry, 12 million children were vaccinated against killer diseases and millions of children were supported to attend regular schooling by building classrooms, training teachers and by providing other facilities. Further the organization, Save A Child is claims that helping poor children is part of UK government’s international aid plan and more than half people in UK are in favor of helping other people. Further, despite of tough times for Britain still Britain is keeping its promise to help the poor children of world. As a result every year 2.5 million children are preventing from killer diseases. According to one prediction by 2015, 10 million children will save from going hungry and 80 million children will safe from fatal diseases. Finally Save A Child is asking the UK government to maintain its commitment to help the poor and developing countries while providing international aid.

Work Cited
Aid Saves Lives.” Save The Children, Web. 4 Oct. 2013.
Easterly, William. “Why Doesn’t Aid Work?” CATO Unbound. Apr. 2006. Web. 11 Sept. 2013.

Erixon, Fredrik. “Why Aid Doesn’t Work.” BBC NEWS. 11 Sept. 2005. Web. 12 Sept. 2013.

Gates, Bill. “The Truth About Foreign Aid.” The New York Times. 26 Jan. 2012. Web. 13 Sept.


Sirleaf, Ellen Johnson. “Foreign Aid Is Not a Waste of Money.” 7 Apr. 2011. Web. 14 Sept.


Wenande, Christian. “Foreign Aid: It Makes Us Feel Better, but Does It Work?” The

Conpenhagen Post. 9 Mar. 2013. Web. 13 Sept. 2013.

“Why Should Europe Help Developing Countries?” Interview by Gunilla Carlsson. Debating
Europe 7 Jan. 2013: n. pag. Web. 20 Sept. 2013.


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