Across Africa, from the mud flats of Nigeria to the coral reefs off Mozambique, mosquito-net fishing is a growing problem, an unintended consequence of one of the biggest and most celebrated public health campaigns in recent years. Unintended consequences and complicated trade-offs: Mosquito Nets for Malaria Spawn New Epidemic: Overfishing (SLNYT)
"I have worked at international development NGOs almost my entire career ... I’ve been frustrated by the same inefficiencies and assumptions of my sector that are now getting picked apart in public. Like the authors, donors, and governments attacking international development, I’m sometimes disillusioned with what my job requires me to do, what it requires that I demand of others. Over the last year, I read every book, essay, and roman à clef about my field I could find. I came out convinced that the problems with international development are real, they are fundamental, and I might, in fact, be one of them. But I also found that it’s too easy to blame the PlayPumps of the world. Donors, governments, the public, the media, aid recipients themselves—they all contribute to the dysfunction. Maybe the problem isn’t that international development doesn’t work. It’s that it can’t."
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation explains 3 Myths that Block Progress for the Poor in their 2014 annual letter. [more inside]
Thinking of donating clothes to Africa? Buying shoes so that someone else can have a pair (or just go a day without shoes)? How about buying charity products or visiting impoverished nations to volunteer? Please reconsider. Your good intentions are likely just paving the path to Hell (or economic danger) with Stuff We Don't Want.
Interactive map of US foreign aid by the Center for American Progress: "explore where U.S. foreign aid dollars are spent and how these countries rank in terms of basic indicators such as political rights and civil liberties, corruption, and overall development." [more inside]
How to write about Africa. Binyavanga Wainaina is among a rising generation of African voices who bring a cautionary perspective to the morality and efficacy behind many Western initiatives to abolish poverty and speed development in Africa. An interview with Krista Tippet.
the American God? The herders of this remote mountain village know little about America, but have learned from those who run a US-funded aid program about the American God. A Christian God. ...
Foreign Aid: Can it work? The conundrum facing the rich countries is that everywhere in the developing world, and particularly in Africa, you see children dying for want of pennies, while it's equally obvious that aid often doesn't work very well....But the pitfalls of aid tend not to be discussed among humanitarians, at least in loud voices, for fear of scaring donors. And now along comes William Easterly, in his tremendously important and provocative new book, The White Man's Burden, which asserts with great force that the aid industry is deeply flawed.
How Much is a Seat on the Security Council Worth? Foreign Aid and Bribery at the United Nations. A paper from a doctoral student at the Harvard Business School, and an employee of the National Bureau of Economic Research has found a correlation between serving on the United Nations Security Council, and the amount of aid received from the United States and the UN. The paper will be printed in an upcoming edition of the Journal of Political Economy. From the abstract: "Ten of the fifteen seats on the U.N. Security Council are held by rotating members serving two-year terms. We find that a country’s U.S. aid increases by 59 percent and its U.N. aid by 8 percent when it rotates onto the council. This effect increases during years in which key diplomatic events take place (when members’ votes should be especially valuable) and the timing of the effect closely tracks a country’s election to, and exit from, the council. Finally, the U.N. results appear to be driven by UNICEF, an organization over which the United States has historically exerted great control." The Harvard Business School working paper can be found here. Commentary from Steven Levitt (the co-author of Freakonomics) can be found here.
The British aid agency OXFAM has released new figures on foreign aid. In 2003, the average aid budget of wealthy countries was just 0.25% of national income. According to the OECD this is actually a modest increase. Only 5 countries: Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden meet or exceed the 0.7% target agreed at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. Among wealthy nations, the US is meanest in terms of percentage. At 0.14%, or £8 billion a year, the US foreign aid budget is less than one tenth of what was spent on the invasion of Iraq. The aid budgets of rich nations are half what they were in 1960, Oxfam said, while poor countries are having to pay $100 million a day in debt repayments. Does foreign aid help? Or is it just throwing good money after bad?
Washington cuts Serbia Aid, due to Serbian intransigence in cooperating with the Hague war crimes tribunal to extradite key war crimes suspects. Recently, the Serbian Parliament passed a controversial bill which gives taxpayers money to war crimes suspects for "legal and other expenses". In December Serbia elected a new parliament with nationalist sympathies. Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica has said extraditing war crimes suspects to The Hague is not one of his government's priorities. Is this the kind of democracy the US wanted?
$320 Million worth of aid is going to the people of Afghanistan, and their neighbors. Is this too much? Couldn't this much money dramatically improve the lives of some 3000 or more struggling families here? Is this the proper message to send to terrorist nations?
How to get $43 millions dollars from the United States
- Strip all your female citizens of their human rights
- Single out religious minorities (for their "protection")
- Agree to crack down on opium farming without any real monitoring