Wednesday, July 26, 2006

# Posted 2:20 PM by Taylor Owen  

MAKING AID WORK: A good discussion in the latest Boston Review on the state of development thinking. One of the things that bugs me about the MSM aid debate is the lack of intellectual and practical context. It often feels as if commentators, particularly those against raising development assistance levels, are stuck in 1970’s aid mentalities (as if what we are still discussing is simply the distribution of excess grains to ‘starving Africans’). These voices discuss aid as if it is their rational voices pitted against the soft hearts incessantly pushing for more money. The truth of course, is that development, not unlike peacebuilding/making, is an incredibly difficult project. Those that do and study development are the first to recognize this, and have been working for the past 30 years on mechanisms for delivering assistance more effectively. Yes there have been systemic failures, corruption and malpractice. But to say that this negates the efforts that have saved millions of lives is absurd. We increasingly know what kind of aid works. We know that cuts costs lives and that relatively minimal increases in funding of certain initiatives can get us to the MDGs. While the Boston review issue does not reflect the full spectrum of development voices, it is a nice survey of some significant positions.

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