There is no inherent tension between reforming our aid system to make it more effective, transparent and accountable, and scaling up funding for projects that are making a demonstrable difference in the lives of the world’s poor.
More and better aid.
A focus on aid effectiveness alone ignores the very obvious point that there are numerous practical steps that can be taken immediately to be ameliorating the lives of the world’s poorest and contributing to poverty alleviation – a necessary foundation for development.
Why the single minded focus on aid effectiveness when we know that the limiting factor in many instances is financial. Primary education, food production, disease control, health, infrastructure, are all in many instances limited by the funds available to be deployed on them.
Of course no one is saying that the primary barrier in all instances is financial, or that aid is a stand alone solution. That, however, seems to be the focus of many of Professor Easterly’s writings.
His books, in many places, tell a very different story than many of the article he writes. The short articles are, however, what many people with limited time and understanding of the issues base their opinions on to justify inaction.
It is all about your audience.
If Professor Easterly does not want to be facilitating a drop off of engagement in people who are just starting to be informed and involved in these issues he should be much more overt about it.
Squash the projects that don’t work and advocate for more aid going to the ones that do. It is not one or the other, it is both.
More and better aid.
Finally, and I am repeating this because I have never seen a good answer to it. Professor Easterly, in The White Man’s Burden writes:
“Put the focus back where it belong: get the poorest people in the world such obvious goods as the vaccines, the antibiotics, the food supplements, the improved seeds, the fertilizer, the roads, the boreholes, the water pipes, the textbooks, and the nurses. This is not making the poor dependent on handouts; it is giving the poorest people the health, nutrition, education, and other inputs that raise the payoff to their own efforts to better their lives.”
Is that planning? No, it is just good common sense. Why can’t we have more aid like that?
Why doesn’t Professor Easterly advocate for more aid to be spent like that instead of just focusing on aid effectiveness? Has anyone heard a good answer for this?
More and better aid – Bill Easterly style.