Development dilemma : Is aid always a good thing ?

Mother and child waiting for food aid

Aid has been the backbone of development for many years now; some people may argue that aid has been very successful whereas others may argue that it has not been very influential in some countries. Reading the article from BBC Can aid do more harm than good?  it gives a clear example as to why development has been seen as a Dilemma. Niger’s president Mamadou Tandjain 2006 accused aid agencies of over emphasising on his countries food crisis, he believes that the aid agencies do it for their own gain, by this he means they do it to gain recognition and over exaggerate on issues less influential. In the article he says ‘What Niger experienced in 2005 was not a sudden catastrophe, but chronic malnutrition that makes people vulnerable to rises in food prices.'(1). 

In Dambisa Moyo book ‘Dead Aid’ She analyses the state of post-war development policy in Africa today, she writes about the amount of billions of dollars sent from rich countries to developing African countries but says poverty levels continue to escalate while the growth rates continue to decline. From Moyo’s perspective aid is not a good thing, however she has been criticised ‘The main criticism I have of Moyo is that she uses statistics that show correlations between a high level of aid receipts and poor economic growth and then attempts to imply causality (aid causing poor growth) by using emotive, highly selective, anecdotal and even hypothetical (she invents a country – Dongo) ‘evidence’ to back up her assertions.(2) This shows that Moyo’s analysis and research is very bias.

In response to aid being a bad thing there are examples of countries which have been seen as ‘failed states’  ‘The definition of a failed state varies, but there is a general consensus that a failed state is unable to provide basic services to its people; security and poverty are part of daily struggles.'(3). People begin to question development as countries such as Somalia and Zimbabwe have very low economic turnout especially with their GDP (gross domestic product) ‘While the U.S. has a per capita GDP of $46,900, Somalia has a per capita GDP of $600.’ (4).

However Roger C Riddel explains that those countries that need aid the most are less likely to flourish from it the dilemma is that most aid works in short term ‘Yet around 15% of official aid projects fail to achieve their immediate objectives and at least 30% are unlikely to be sustainable’.(5). And according to Riddel the success rate becomes worse for NGOs.

Overall the dilemmas faced by development can be known as what is called ‘structural constraint’ which is where smaller countries have problems with developing ‘small countries with small populations have trouble developing, gaining access to markets; while, landlocked countries have trouble integrating with global markets and developing their economies’.(6) In addition to this countries with geographic advantages could become developed properly with strong and stable government policies.

(1) Henri Astier,2006, Can aid do more harm than good (accessed Nov 10 2012)

(2) Real sociology, 2012, A summary and criticism of Dambisa Moyo’s Assertions on dead aid (accessed Nov 10 2012)

(3) Silcon Valley, 2009, Failed states: Insight into Two of the World’s most broken states (accessed Nov 12 2012)

(4) Roger C Riddel, 2009, Is aid working? Is this the right question to be asking (accessed Nov 13 2012)

(5) 2012 Problems of development today (accessed Nov 14 2012)


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