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"Aid" Analysis

This article in today’s New York Times offers a superb analysis of a big part of the reason why so many Africans remain mired so deeply in poverty.

Here’s the punchline:

Since 1981, the United States Agency for International Development said in a troubling report in September, outsiders have sought to fix Malawi’s ills through more than 20 economic adjustment programs devised by the World Bank and eight related loans from the International Monetary Fund. International charities poured in countless private dollars. Overseas development assistance – foreign aid – totals about $35 per person, and makes up $8 of every $10 spent on economic development.

Yet despite that, the report states, only Yemen, Ethiopia and Burundi have worse rates of chronic malnutrition than does Malawi, where 49 percent of all children are stunted. Moreover, that rate has not improved for 15 years.

My only real disagreement is with the theme, expressed well in the article’s title: "Amid Squalor, an Aid Army Marches to No Drum at All."

The problem isn’t that the legions of "aid" dispensers and foreign "experts" aren’t well-coordinated with each other.  Instead, a far worse problem is that the U.N., the World Bank, other "aid" agencies, and the governments in Africa together prevent individual Africans from marching to their own drums — or, more precisely, from developing their own drum beat out of their own bits of local knowledge and individual preferences.

Hat tip to Karol.


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