The great aid mystery

Our rulers must know that development aid doesn’t work. So why do they throw money at it?

5 January 2013

One of the more bizarre mysteries of contemporary British politics is the ironclad, almost fanatical intensity of the government’s commitment to foreign aid spending and the activities of DFID, the Department for International Development.

It is bizarre because the Prime Minister talks about foreign aid as if it’s all about famine relief and saving children’s lives. But he and his Cabinet are intelligent, worldly people and they know that the real world of aid rarely resembles the one celebrated in DFID pamphlets and Oxfam ads. They know that most aid is ‘development aid’ intended not to help in emergencies, but to foster prosperity.

They also know that this development aid is at best useless and at worst counterproductive. A quarter of Britain’s foreign aid goes as ‘budget support’ into the treasuries of some of the world’s least competent, honest or responsible governments. Even more goes to multilateral institutions, like the World Bank or the EU aid body that Clare Short described as ‘an outrage’, ‘a disgrace’ and ‘the worst development agency in the world’.

After 60 years and $3 trillion of development aid, with one big push following another and wave after wave of theories and jargon, there is depressingly little evidence that official development aid has any significant benign effect on third-world poverty. The Tories know this. They’ve read William Easterly and Robert Calderisi, who argue that the cash we dole out has enriched privileged Westerners and kleptocratic third-world rulers more than its intended beneficiaries. Moreover, they’ve seen how South Korea and Taiwan have risen from poverty to prosperity and they know how small a role foreign aid played. So why do they still insist on this enormous, ‘ring-fenced’ aid budget?

Some suggest it’s about being nice (however ineffectually) to our less fortunate neighbours; showing them we’re not racist. But being admirably attuned to matters of race and prejudice, Cameron and his crew must have noticed that the fiercest defenders of aid are invariably white, and the most trenchant critics tend to be African intellectuals like Ghana’s George Ayittey and Uganda’s Andrew Mwenda. Some of them who have been in the field will have seen for themselves how aid activity of both kinds — development and emergency — all too often replicates much that was bad about 19th-century missionary activity and imperialism, and even with the best intentions tends to patronise its beneficiaries and undermine good government.

They must also be aware that DFID’s claims to be able to monitor corruption and waste are largely PR flimflam. After all, the House of Commons public accounts committee has told them so. Its chair, Margaret Hodge, has lamented DFID’s inadequate bookkeeping, and ‘poor understanding of levels of fraud and corruption’.

So what is it really about?

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One explanation is of course self-interest. To be seen to ‘care’ about the world’s poor is, say some, a way of appealing to swing voters and ‘detoxifying the Tory brand’. This would arguably make the government’s insistence on increasing foreign aid (while cutting almost everything else) one of the most expensive PR exercises in history. But while there is bound to be some truth in the theory, it fails to explain why the Cameroons have stuck to the commitment even though polls show it is not popular. Today, given the UK’s financial travails, almost anyone who is not in the aid industry would forgive and understand a U-turn on foreign aid targets. But the Prime Minister has set his face like flint against any reduction.

Like so many things in Britain, the new Tory obsession with aid may come down to class and religion.

It is a matter of religion partly because so much aid is faith-based, by which I mean that those who fund it and carry it out have little or no real evidence that it works, but they take a leap of faith that it does. It is also faith-based in the sense that foreign aid has become one of those substitute religions so often adopted by middle-class, educated people who look down on organised religion of all kinds. Like other pseudo-religions, aid has its owns myths, iconography, priesthoods; its state and private elements; its conflicts between fundamentalists and moderates; its guardians of purity, its true believers and cynical hucksters, its genuine saints and its ruthless bureaucrats. And it offers believers an almost spiritual sense of their own goodness — which goes some way towards explaining their extreme reluctance to listen to the evidence against it.

As to class, foreign aid is a comparatively middle- and upper-class business and a middle- and upper-class enthusiasm. It starts with a gap year to exciting places like Nairobi or New Delhi, being driven around in Land Cruisers and lecturing adults on how to run their countries. To some, aid work is attractive because of the adventure and the thrill of danger. To others, the lure is endless gap-year exoticism and third-world partying (with the additional benefit of being one of the good guys). You can earn a decent, high-status living in the aid world, without soiling your hands in trade or industry.

Clare Lockhart, author of Fixing Failed States, likens the aid world to the Victorian church, which offered employment and status to the second sons of the landed gentry. And certainly, if you visit the bars and clubs frequented by aid workers in many parts of the third world, you could be forgiven for seeing the aid business as a sort of white-knuckle dating agency for middle-class Westerners. For the more academic, it’s also a ticket to the lucrative five-star conference circuit.

It is probably unfair to suggest that class solidarity is a conscious reason for the Cameron government’s attachment to aid. But class attitudes and sympathies have a subconscious effect. The Notting Hill elite is more likely to encounter or engage with poor Africans or Asians (on their holidays, or working trips abroad) than to encounter rock-bottom life at home. They’re more likely to have visited Kenya than Rochdale. And if the actions (rather than the words) of the Cameron government are anything to go by, they find it harder to empathise with a working-class squaddie in a wheelchair than with a hungry African family. Their gap years prepare them for philanthropy in foreign parts, but not to confront life in a British sink estate.

This is not a new thing in our culture. Dickens mocked it brilliantly in the character of Mrs Jellyby in Bleak House. But Mrs Jellyby didn’t run the country. In a modern democratic nation state we rightly expect our rulers to put the citizenry first, especially those in greatest need — not to prioritise humanity in general. This is particularly relevant if they know, and they do know, that the money they pour into foreign countries is all too often wasted or stolen. Even the most devoted Cameroonian must have blushed when the Prime Minister and his former development secretary Andrew Mitchell claimed that foreign aid had the ancillary benefits of preventing war and illegal immigration. Given what we know now about the ways in which both development and emergency aid have subsidised warlords and sponsored bloody conflicts in places like Ethiopia and Sierra Leone, it was something of a sick joke.

I don’t necessarily think that Britain should not engage in foreign aid at all, just that our leaders have a duty to the people who pay for it and the people in whose name they serve to spend the money well.

Here are some questions that I’d like the PM to ponder in this new year. Why, for example, are we so wedded to the idea of spending 0.7 per cent of GDP on foreign aid? This much trumpeted target causes no end of trouble — it’s tricky to get rid of that much cash — and it’s not derived from any empirical analysis about what poor countries need or what development can achieve. It’s the product of rich-country grandstanding and activist marketing, just like the Millennium Development Goals. It has its origin in a 1950s suggestion by the World Council of Churches that rich countries tithe 1 per cent of GDP for foreign aid. The public on whom the government are imposing this burden give more to charity than the citizens of any other G8 country except the United States.

That same public has a right to expect that aid policy will keep our own interests in mind. For instance, it makes sense to suggest that DFID should favour British products and that aid should be supplied in ways that benefit British foreign policy. But this tends not to be the case, because the prevailing culture in the aid community is hostile to any consideration of material benefit to the donor country. To get anything in return is, they think, to be insufficiently altruistic. What a daft way to guide policy.

The waste and corruption that goes unseen or unchallenged by DFID is a kick in the teeth both for the people at home who pay the bill and for the people aid is supposed to be helping. A genuinely compassionate policy would be ruthless and rapid in its cutting of aid to wasteful and corrupt multilateral organisations like the EU’s aid programme and to cynical and corrupt central and local governments in places like Kenya and Ethiopia. It would have long ago made coherent choices about where Britain should focus the aid it can afford. Perhaps it would make sense to focus on former colonies and other countries with historic links, or perhaps the very poorest countries (though those often have the worst governance and the worst results), or the most strategically important ones. What makes no sense at all is to spend money (as DFID does) on countries which fit into none of those categories, like Brazil and Vietnam.

In the meantime, a decent aid programme might even invest in military emergency aid capacity that could genuinely make the UK an ‘aid superpower’, to use Andrew Mitchell’s cant phrase. We could invest in the transport aircraft, ships and heavylift helicopters that are, as the 2004 tsunami showed, the ultimate ‘dual-use’ emergency aid resources.

Perhaps the ultimate demonstration that the government takes aid seriously — that it understands the difficulties of aid delivery and the moral dilemmas it entails — would be if it held an inquiry or a royal commission into how best to give effective aid. But there’s little chance of that. There is probably no corner of the British establishment as unexamined or as deserving of sceptical scrutiny as the aid sector, but our deluded or cynical leaders just don’t seem to care.

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Show comments
  • GaryEssex

    I write this from the capital of corruption and wasted foreign aid spending, Nairobi. I am witness on a daily basis to NGO types dining at the most expensive restaurants, driving around (or more likely, being driven around) in fancy 4x4s, hosting pointless seminars, leaving early from the office, taking long weekends in game parks or at the coast while doing little or nothing to help ordinary Kenyans. In fact, Kenyans are very enterprising and resourceful and left to their own devises will make this country a success and once do-gooders and corrupt politicians get out of their way.
    I also urge everyone, especially Justine Greening, to read Dambisa Moyo’s “Dead Aid”.

    • http://www.facebook.com/ndirangu.mwaura Ndirangu Mwaura

      As a Kenyan I have to slightly disagree with your assertion that NGO types in Nairobi do little to help ordinary Kenyans…you must remember that their spending at restaurants, game parks etc actually injects money into the local economy for which we are grateful..our concern is the way that arrogant prick cameron tries to blackmail us into accepting homos into our culture by tying ‘aid’ into this.

      • Eddie

        Your cultures is full of ‘homos’ anyway. You’re probably a repressed gay. Didn’t aid start when some African ‘homos’ bum monkeys anyway?

        You Ndirangu seem to be proof that Africans have low IQs. I think if all Kenyans are like you, it’s a shame more don’t die in tribal violence and starve to death.

        You do not deserve any aid: the British made Kenya a beautiful, stable, successful country and gave far more than they took. Idiots like you are your parents have ruined it. Now you demand money from whites you hate in a racist way, and then hate them when they give it.

        You are proof that aid does not work and that dumb hateful ciorrupt primitive Africans hate us for giving it anyway.

        Trade not aid.
        (and BTW when the British left Kenya the population was 7 million; because Africans breed like rats it is now 4 times that – hence the trabalism, fighting over resources, environmental damage, starvation, demands for aid. PUT A KNOT IN IT, YAH?)

        • Max

          To the moderator of this site: please ban Eddie – he is a disgrace to the Spectator. If this isn’t incitement to racial hatred, then I don’t know what is. Get his IP address and contact the police. If you don’t then I’ll contact them myself. Got a stack of evidence against him. And he does this in his employer’s time too! Would love to know their opinion of having a Nazi on their payroll.

          • BoiledCabbage

            We need Eddie. He tells the truth whilst others pander to turd world nonsense. He shoots down backward Africans who cannot accept homosexuals. Free speech!

          • Max

            It’s still incitement to racial hatred, and I will contact the police if the Spectator don’t.

            Mate, I reckon you and Eddie would be better off posting here than the Spectator – http://www.niggermania.com – if you’re not doing so already. It’s about your level. Dumb, nasty little racists venting their spleen because they are pathologically against non-whites.

          • BoiledCabbage

            I say again, Free Speech!

          • Eddie

            Yes indeed. How self-identified ‘liberals’ so often argue for illiberal censorship and bullying of those who dare to go against orthodox opinion eh? How very Stalinist! How very Kim Jung IL of em! How very Nazi!

            My sympathy goes out to the police who have to deal with these nutters every day. Maybe he could also call for the rozzers to arrest Paul McCartney for putting on a calypso darkies voice for ObLaDiObLahDa! Or maybe arrest Mick Jagger for saying ‘just like a black girl should’ on Brown sugar.

            Then you can arrest everyone over 40 who will have used words which are now considered racist – (negro, coloured, darkie) – usually in a merely descriptive way. And, when the woodentops have done that, the streets will be wondefully quiet. In fact, 90% of peopl will be inside.
            SO why not do it the oher way round – just arrest tosseurs like Maxie and lock em up with other wankie wallies, so that reasonable non-racist non-hysterical people can live in the real world outside eh?

            Still, Maxie can always go and live in the Third World if he wants – as can all those who romanticise black Africans and brown Asians – then they can learn just how lovely the attitudes of Africans and Asians are (and how most are totally racist and bigoted against people who are different from them).

            Aid is an industry. Like race. Like ‘equality’ and diversity. Like gender politics.

            It is all an utter scam stuffed full of self-serving professional spongers whose combined salaries could pay off the debts of the Third World in a year!

          • Eddie

            It’s against the law to incite hatred against homosexuals too and to call them homos. Yet you do not call for the same measures to be taken against Miss Nancy Mwaura as you do against the great gutsy fearless entertaining wit and dandy called Eddie.


            Is it because I is NOT black eh?

            Maybe if I splattered on some Marmite or shoe polish to black up, starting hopping around waving a stick, while calling on my gods to kill all my enemies (i.e. whites, Asians, dirty gays etc), you would no doubt hug me and give me a councoil grant due to your instinctive misplaced multiculuralism and fake liberalism eh?

            You Maxie are JUST like all those who turn a blind eye to Asian rape gangs, forced marriage, child abuse in African churches in the UK, black street crime – and all because of the skin colour of the perpetrators.

            Ergo (look it up, ignoramus) it is you, not I, who is racist.

            No wonder you frequent race hate websites – they allow you to join in and feel important, because otherwise you’d just be another little wankie inadequate with borderline mental health issues. (Oh and you know what – black people in the UK absolutely HATE white hypocrites like you! Do you think you speak for them you patronising little speck of hypocritical dribble bobbing around in the moral cesspit of sanctinomious cant!)

            Me, I believe the same values should apply to everyone in the UK.

            Me, I am against aid – and the whole aid industry – just as I am against the whole race and diversity and equality industry (which uses public money to campaign for inequality in the name of equality!).

            Trade not aid.

            By the way, shouldn’t you Maxie be posting here really:


          • Eddie

            Oh dear, call the local mental hospital! Max the manic Brievik-obsessive is on the loose again, stalking me!

            I replied appropriately to Miss Mwaura – a sad African lifeform who wants to hang all gays (no doubt because he was ‘broken in’ by juju bum-rape magic when a boy).

            You know, I get rather sick of Africans – with their vile backwards bigoted religious wicthdoctor juju – lecturing others about how to run society or about how not to be racist: Africans I have met are often the most bigoted and socially conservative, hateful, religious maniacs I have ever had the misfortune to meet – racist against whites and Asians and anyone of another tribe too, massively backwards in their attitudes, especially towards homosexuality.

            I refuse to pander to such persons. If a white person from Swindon said what little missy Mwaura had said in his ignorant silly thick post, I would have responded in the same way.

            Max – oh do contact the police. Then they can arrest you for stalking!

            Look up ‘evidence’ in the dictionary your mummy (whoops – I mean Sanity Clause) got you for Winterval. It’s not that far from ‘racism’ and ‘Nazi’ (two words whose definitions you do not seem to know: someone is NOT a racist because you call them one, you know, Max Fuckter). It’s quite close to ‘irony’ (another word that has passed you by) and not that far from ‘sanctimonious fuckwitted twit’ really, which sort of sums you up little Miss Maxie.
            Nowhere in my posts do I use inappropriate raciist language or incite racism, you silly little race-obsessed pc pixie!

            And oh yes – tell my employer! Who is….errrr…me actually!

            So, Eddie the employer, what would you like to do to Eddie your employee who posts on blogs during your time (on a Sunday too when he should be in some afro-church hugging Africans whose views make the 14th century look liberal and tolerant)?

            Eddie says: “well, I think for stating an honest and rational opinion, Eddie deserves a medal, and that snivelling little wankie sixth form college students like Max should really go back to wanking in socks rather that splurting their dribbling ignorance all over grown-up blogs like this one’.

          • GaryEssex

            I agree.

          • Eddie

            Obviously going native with the tribal bullying and oppression of dissent there, Gary. Careful with that machete now…
            So now we know you agree that it’s OK to discriminate against people for their sexuality and that you support backwards and brutal African regimes who persecute minorities.
            Hey, you must LURVE Africa!

          • GaryEssex

            We call them pangas not machetes.
            Yes, I think it’s perfectly OK to discriminate in this case and in many others. The “no poofta” rule works perfectly well in this part of the world.
            Even the new gay marriage law will allow marriage and civil partnerships for pooftas but only marriage and no civil partnerships for non-pooftas. So discrimination on the grounds of sexuality can work both ways.
            Surely, Africans are entitled to their views and they don’t need jumped up and sanctimonious Europeans telling them what laws to introduce or blackmailing them with aid money that don’t need or want (except corrupt politicians, of course, who love the stuff and for which they continue to pray at the alter of Justine Greening).

        • wewe

          Im sure the british and irish just love each other to death….. sounds like a tribal fight to me

      • Eddie

        ‘to blackmail us into accepting homos int OUR culture’

        Well, let’s see:

        1) YOUR culture is a mix of various tribal cultures some very different from each other (and hateful of each other) but your MAIN culture – an d the one you must cling to to have a stable country – is white British culture: and a good thing to: – this is where you got your law, education, stability from AND English, the language you speak. Like it or not, without the British, you’d be wearing a grass skirt waggling a spear at the spirits.

        2) Homosexual behaviour was and secretly is part of most African societies. It is for example more than common for young boys to be introduced to gay sex by family members – and this is one reason why so many African men hate gays. Ironically, the hatred of black Africans for gays is propped up by the church – which in Africa is stuck in the 19th century. So even your gay hatred comes from another culture.

        There is no such thing as pure ‘Kenyan’ culture: it was made in Britain then corrupted by Africans. Most Kenyans know this and also that Britain made Kenya stable, prosperous and secure: the brutal rapist MauMau do not represent all Kenyans – possibly only 25%. Kenya has declined into the usual African cesspit of corruption since the British left, of course, and will have a future of tribal wars and instability: the African way.

        And it is RIGHT for any aid givers to demand that backwards African countries adopt human rights or they won’t get aid. There should also be other strings attached: reduce yoiur populations or you get no aid, could be one.

        Sadly, the Chinese have shortcircuited this useful way of making Africans stay a little bit civilised and not reverting to their primitive brutal origins; the Chinese have money and as they are vile amoral greedy inhuman dictators themselves, are quite happy to bribe the corrupt African political elite – who sign away the land and resources of Africa to them – and all with no questions asked: the yellow fascists really do not care if you torture and murder people – because hey, guess what? They do too.

        • wewe

          You are a bona fide idiot! Im not impressed at all by you, probably din’t go beyond primary school at which you failed. ‘britain made kenya stable’ much like bush made iraq stable, and germans helped control european population during the war. I have stooped low to respond to you. You may be a ‘superior’ being compared to me, but the end of ‘subhumans, superhumans, the master race’ is all the same. -six feet under.

      • GaryEssex

        I’m glad that you agree with me in regard to NGOs spending their time and money relaxing. I’m sure there are exceptions. It’s just that I have yet to meet any.
        I also completely agree about gay blackmail or which Malawi is also a victim.
        I’m also glad that Kikuyus are reading The Spectator.

        • Eddie

          So the perpetrators of persecution against minority groups (doesn’t matter which really) are VICTIMS of blackmail by the British government. Brilliant!
          Just like murderers are victims of the unreasonable rights of their potential victims to stay alive.
          You either accept human rights for EVERYONE or not at all – South Africa (under Mandela and his shadow) has done this and given ALL people (incl gays) human rights – though this proibably won’t last when the white racists take over and rip that place apart like Zimbabwe.
          How about we in the UK have human rights EXCEPT for black Africans who live here eh? Doesn’t sound so good now, does it!
          Bigotry and discrimination is JUST as bad when it is used against anyway – racism (against blacks only eh? as it is usually meant) is in NO way superior to any other form of disrimination (something lots of bigot blacks seem to forget!)
          Aid in Kenyan slums does nothing. Inside the Aid Industry on Sunday on BBC Radio 4 showed how NGOs exist for their own smugness and salaries, and that the ‘Kibera conundrum’, in which a slum in Nairobi gets aid agencies pouring money into Kenya, with zero benefit for the poorest people.

          • Rickie

            second that

      • woohoo02

        Small change buddy,they probably spend more on prostitution, the NGO`s are “Mostly” the problem, arming de-stabilising factions to loot your economy!

  • Jen

    Another critique based on the premise that ‘Aid isn’t working’, ignoring a huge pile of evidence to the contrary. Take a look at some of DFID’s programmes in Bangladesh…

    • John Steed

      Could you provide a link to some evidence? I would be interested to see more. Thanks

    • SirMortimerPosh

      You obviously work for them and are thus ‘polluted’ by self interest.

    • GaryEssex

      In fact, we would prefer not to look at any DFID’s programmes in Bangladesh – or anywhere else for that matter. I see no reason whatsoever why any of our money should be spent in Bangladesh on any project no matter how worthy in might seem to the chattering classes in the UK. Let’s solve our own problems with our own money and let the Bangladeshis do the same.

  • Humanicontrarian

    Powerful stuff. Some of it spot on, and some of it seemingly as ideological as the position JF poleaxes. As one of the priests of humanitarianism (or, as Paul Theroux put it, as “an agent of virtue”), I find JF is at his best when his focus is on the big chunk of aid, government funding for development. Even there, he is apparently not paying attention to the very real shift going on in the places where aid is received, where middle class and neo-colonial models of aid are being not just challenged but increasingly constrained. We can now hope that bIg fat Westen aid of the type JF eviscerates will either change or die.

    Where I disagree completely, is when he tarnishes with the same broad brush the work of emergency assistance. There, because the goal is more limited — try to keep people alive and healthy during crisis, as opposed to fixing the system or curing poverty — international interventions are often effective. We can and do stop epidemics, treat the wounded, and feed the starving. Not all the time, but enough. And while many argue that poor nations should be left alone to develop self-suffiency, the same cannot be said for a child with malaria or a woman in her third day of obstructed labor.

  • Framer

    Spectacularly well-written article and I am reading it before it is published.

    Unfortunately the interests of too many, not least the BBC and the FO will ensure nothing changes. As I wrote earlier with an example of colossally wasteful aid you can’t win against waffle (evidence) like this:
    DfID granted £90 million last
    year to ‘BBC Media Action’ on the strength of a few lines of phrasing and this justification for their earlier spending:

    “In Bangladesh, 60 per cent of people thought the “Question Time”
    programme had made politicians and officials more accountable. In
    Cambodia, the health programme increased the number of people using
    condoms, the number of women going to antenatal checks, and the number
    of people washing their hands. “Lifeline” programmes are reaching people
    in emergencies with information that is critical to their survival. A
    young woman’s comment on a Darfur programme was that “when you listen to
    this programme you feel that it is the only link between you and the
    outside world”. The existing programmes being rolled into the new grant
    are: a) “A National Conversation” focusing on governance in Tanzania,
    Angola and Sierra Leone; b) “Climate Asia” in seven countries across
    Asia; and c) a health programme in India.”

    That’s £90 million granted on a back-of-an-envelope justification that would convince everyone in the industry but nobody beyond.

    • Eddie

      Wow – that is shocking.
      One could argue that the BBC gets aid too, of course – £4,000,000,000 a year from the British people to prop up its corrupt and ailing regime…

  • The Wiganer

    We have political leaders, in all three main parties, for whom the priority is being popular with their chums on the dinner party circuit. Hence the obsessions with foreign aid, green energy and EU fraternalism
    These are the ‘sexy’ issues to support around the dinner table whilst sneering at the rest of us, who can be disregarded as racist, climate-denying, bigots.
    And we still hold our noses and vote for them, so we deserve everything we get.

  • Roy

    Better in fact to have an emergency fund ready to help out in major catastrophes. Which would also be available for floods and accidents at home.

  • Eddie

    This article speaks the truth – a truth hidden under the shell of emotional blackmail for decades. Anyone who ‘comes out’ as being against overseas aid is quite wrongly accused of being monstrous in every way by the charity industry (and most money given to charities goes to prop this up and pay people their salaries so they can feel good helping little brown babies overseas – though not those boring ones in the UK, I notice).

    But here are some facts: 1) it goes to countries which have enormously wealthy elites, millionaires and billionaires; 2) most of it gets stolen anyway; 3) it creates a culture of dependency and is counter-productive; 4) it encourages devastating population growth which then threatens the environment and stores up yet more starvatuon problems for the future.

    China has shown the way: they do not GIVE to Africa; they DEAL with Africa. They say ‘ you give us resources and land for the future, and we shall build your roads, hospital, schools etc’. They also ignore corruption (well they are essentially a fascistic nationalistic dictatorship). Sadly, thje Chinese are devastating Africa and soon many large animals will be extinct in the wild. How much aid do they give to Africa again? Errr NONE. That’s right – NONE. They give services and infrastructure in a colonialist manner in return for gaining rights to resources.

    It is time to get real: if the aid is essentially a bribe to get Britain business, then we have to do it. (I suspect it’s more for political parties to court the ethnic and Muslim and Christian vote these days though). But if it’s just so we can waste money on various schemes in countries which have some very rich people in them (just LOOK at the African and Asian elites!) then it should be stopped now.

    Africa is poorer now than it was 50 years ago, despite the trillions of aid that has flooded into those countries – which have all been messed up by black Africans too: the British and others left those countries is a decent shape – African ways ruined them. And what is even worse: the more we give, the more some of these people hate us! And wrongly blame us for their own filthy corruption and ineptitude.

    Trade not aid.

    Time to realise that we cannot solve the world’s problems and if we give aid it causes more problems then solves them (many problems in Africa are a result of massive overpopulation and pressue on resources all caused by the medical aid given in the last 40 years. Great… Let’s save babies who should die and create wars in the future…)

    And we could start by stopping the damn French using the EU and the absurd Common Agricultural Policy to keep their farmers producing food no-one needs and then dumping it on Africa, thereby putting locals out of business (the French will only give aid to countries that agree to their terms, I notice).

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matt-Sharp/517025938 Matt Sharp

      “Africa is poorer now than it was 50 years ago”

      Source for this claim? Assuming this Wikipedia accurately reports his claims, Angus Maddison estimates that Africa’s GDP (PPP) per capita was $890 in 1950 and had risen to $1,549 in 2003:


      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matt-Sharp/517025938 Matt Sharp

        “despite the trillions of aid that has flooded into those countries”

        William Easterly estimates that from 1960-2003 about $568bn was spent on Sub-Saharan Africa. This sounds like a lot, but it works out at approximately $29 *per recipient per year*. Saying ‘we already spend $29 for each person each year and yet they haven’t escaped poverty’ does not have much rhetorical force.

        “the British and others left those countries is a decent shape”

        Colonialists divided up Africa into arbitrary regions that did not represent the locations of existent African cultures, leading to many of the conflicts we now see. Colonialists also imported some pretty awful values; see Belgium’s role in the Rwandan genocide, and the establishment of an intolerant, anti-gay Christian Church.

        ” Great… Let’s save babies who should die and create wars in the future.”

        Rather than simply letting babies die, if aid includes some emphasis on
        women’s rights and allows them economic freedom and hence control over their own fertility, people in poor countries will simply have fewer
        children in the first place. This is what happened in the West, and it
        is what is happening in developing countries today.

        I do agree that trade is very important (though it’s much easier to trade if you don’t suffer from malaria, AIDS, tb, schistosomiasis etc), and that the CAP is absurd and harms farmers outside of Europe.

        • Eddie

          False argument about overpopulation: give women rights and everything will be rosy because people will have fewer kids. Well, have you looked at how many kids Africans and Asians in the UK have? Rather blows your argument out of the water, innit?
          That leftie argument is as wrong and short-termist as the rightwing capitalist pig argument which goes: make people in the Third World like us, with factories and capitalism, and then population will control itself.
          You areb both utterly wrong ands are part ofthe problem, not the solution: many species will be extinct because of the likes of you. Yes, really. Your way of doing things will lead to massive overpopulation (maybe in 100 years women will breed less) and meanwhile all major animals will be extinct.
          Try thinking LONG TERM for a change. We have to be cruel to be kind for the greater good of humanity and all of nature.
          And BTW the Belgian Congo disgrace was stopped by the British, doncha know, like the slave trade. So silly blaming the colononlialists for everything – but a typical African lie. The British empire stopped slavery, replaced vile dictators (ever realised that the great Zulu king Shaka killed 1.5 million people eh?), introduced law, stability, prosperity – and all problems since have been caused by black Africans because, as Michella Wong has quoted someone saying: Africans have no sense of the common good.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matt-Sharp/517025938 Matt Sharp

            “False argument about overpopulation: give women rights and everything will be rosy because people will have fewer kids. Well, have you looked at how many kids Africans and Asians in the UK have? Rather blows your argument out of the water, innit?”

            I’d very much recommend reading this article at the economist:

            It provides examples and evidence that back up my argument. It’s not just about women’s rights: it’s about increasing wealth and reducing deaths from disease. When people know their kids are highly likely to survive, they have fewer of them.

            ” as Michella Wong has quoted someone saying: Africans have no sense of the common good.”

            This is rather funny. Yesterday I was arguing with someone who claimed Africa was poor *because* of a collective mentality that was holding back entrepreneurialism and hence economic growth.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matt-Sharp/517025938 Matt Sharp

            Also, ‘how many kids Africans and Asians in the UK have’, look at figure 2 on page 5 of this study:

            Black African immigrant women in the UK have around 2.5 kids, which is clearly lower than the average of Africa as a whole, suggesting that greater economic freedoms and rights have allowed them to have the number of children they actually want. Pakistani and Bangladeshi immigrants to the UK have higher birth rates, though they are also declining towards the average (the country of Bangladesh’s birthrates have fallen significantly over the past few decades as well, from an average of 6 children to 3, as the economist article explains).

          • Eddie

            You have clearly never lived in a very ethnic area of taught the offspring of these families – not uncommon for Africans and Asians in the UK who have children to have 4,5,6,7,8 of them.
            Please accept that your argument is not impartial: you start with your conclusion (that onl;y giving women rights will lower population) and then work bqackwards. Confirmation bias.
            Have you ever read David Attenborough on overpopulation? Look at the population matters website.
            If something is not done, the world your thinking will have created will be hell by the end of the 21st century.
            Having a child is the least green thing anyone can ever do: it is utterly selfish and that needs saying. If we continue with our foreign aid bonanza, all animals will be extinct and there will be hellish conflicts over resources, starvation, famines etc (all a direct result of your complacent politically correct approach).
            We need to stop all aid now. Trade not aid.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matt-Sharp/517025938 Matt Sharp

            “You have clearly never lived in a very ethnic area of taught the
            offspring of these families – not uncommon for Africans and Asians in
            the UK who have children to have 4,5,6,7,8 of them.”

            It’s irrelevant where I’ve lived. I could live in Antarctica and it wouldn’t weaken my argument, which is backed up by the paper I quoted. As it is, I spent 6 years of the last decade living in London. Just because you claim to see lots of Africans and Asians with lots of kids doesn’t change the overall numbers. You probably started with the conclusion that they have lots of kids, then tend to notice large foreign families much more than large white families. Confirmation bias.

            I agree that overpopulation is a serious issue, and don’t intend to have kids of my own. But you’ve not presented any actual evidence that I’m wrong about what causes declining fertility rates. Again, I suggest reading the economist article I posted above.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=518870938 Victoria Luckie

            “Black African immigrant women in the UK have around 2.5 kids, which is clearly lower than the average of Africa as a whole, suggesting that greater economic freedoms and rights have allowed them to have the number of children they actually want.”

            Or it may suggest that, Black African immigrants to the UK are less likely to find well paying work in Britain due to a variety of factors and are less able to fund additional children?

            Or it may be that without the assistance of the network of extended family to help care for children they feel unable to care for additional children?

            Or it may be that it is more likely that both parents will have to work as a result of economic constraints and childcare is too expensive…

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matt-Sharp/517025938 Matt Sharp

            Possibly, but my explanation is more coherent with other data. Generally, finding higher-paid work leads to fewer children (as the parents have careers they don’t want to give up).

          • GaryEssex

            I think her name is Wrong not Wong. She is not Chinese, but she knows a thing or two about Kenyan corruption of which local politicians are particular expert here in Nairobi. Conversely these same politicians seem to have little or no interest in the aid issues that worry the likes of Matt Sharp, except where it can be siphoned off into their own bank accounts. In fact, I meet very few Africans who care about helping others less fortunate than themselves.

          • http://www.facebook.com/ndirangu.mwaura Ndirangu Mwaura

            @af224f2b5f958c56357aaf44da358e45:disqus i think that you are full of s***, ‘u claim not to meet Africans who care about helping others’ how do you then explain all the billions of dollars that overseas kenyans each year send to their relatives back home… get the hell out of Kenya you smug racist

          • Eddie

            Miss Mwaura – why not just ask your daddy to bum you again like he used to when you were a boy stuffing your big fat black spongeing face full on rice from UN food parcels (as we all cock of course).
            You are a massive great big bigot, Miss Mwaura and clearly a repressed gay. Come to terms with it, son. You’ll be much happier.
            Tell us all then: why should poor people in Europe pay taxes that our stupid governments can send in aid to shitty crappy corrupt countries like Kenya where most of it gets siphoned off into the bank accounts of either corrupt officials from the local elites or white aid workers who love their aid industry salaries?
            Africs does not deserve a penny of aid – because its problems are entirely of its own making. The British left Kenya a beautiful, stable, prosperous country – and you messed it up.
            But tell me, love: you tell whites to leave Kenya. Does that make it OK to Europeans to tell Africans to leave Europe then? Or do you have double standards?

          • Eddie

            You really are an arrogant tosser, aren’t you?
            The comment that Africa has no sense of the common good is not mine – it has been noticed by many commentators, many who know a great deal more about the place than you. Why do you think the place is so damn corrupt and ho NOTHING ever gets much better in Africa? Why do you thnk mobile phones (which gives ordinary people a chance to bypass the usual corruption) are so popular?
            The only thing that is funny and absurd is you and your silly utopian theories. Feeding more Africans will do what it has done over the last 40-50 years where the population of all former British colonies has quadrupled – which has caused conflict, wars, tribal agro, environmental pressure, extinction of species. Look at Kenya and Rwanda – all caused by overpopulation which is caused by aid.
            I would recommend you move to Africa. I do wish smug self-righteous whities in the West would do so – then we wouldn’t have to listen to your lies.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matt-Sharp/517025938 Matt Sharp

            And the insults come out :)

            “NOTHING ever gets much better in Africa”

            And some more ridiculous generalisations. Africa isn’t one big country.

            “Do you thinkLook at Kenya and Rwanda – all caused by overpopulation which is caused by aid.”

            Just gonna copy and paste something I wrote previously:

            William Easterly estimates that from 1960-2003 about $568bn was spent on Sub-Saharan Africa. This sounds like a lot, but it works out at approximately $29 *per recipient per year*. Saying ‘we already spend $29 for each person each year and yet they haven’t escaped poverty’ does not have much rhetorical force.

          • Eddie

            My insults are in direct response to those of an arrogant, ignorant twerp who – in the high-handed manner of some medeival flatearther cleric – thinks his bible trumps real scientific fact.
            We need to manage this overpopulation and to stop aid and focus on trade,. There are MANY academics who argue this – and not your silly, utopian, self-righteous, irresponsible, utopian ideas (which are not yours anyway – you just parrot others) – which will ultimately create war, famine, mass extinction and environmental disaster – not to mention propping up corrupt disgusting African regimes.

          • Lamsan

            Don’t forget Hitler, Mussolini etc.,,,, wait a minute,, that will spoil your argument won’t it,,,

      • Eddie

        It is a quote I have heard spoken MANY times by MANY experts in international aid.
        You seem to focus on the work of one academic whose prejudices mirror your own.
        I think we can agree however that Africa is poor and very much a basket case too.
        Just think, South Korea was poorer than Africa 50 years ago – and actually, the biggest concern of the British govt after independence of the former colonies was not Africa, but Asia. They didn’t factor in the African mentality though…

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matt-Sharp/517025938 Matt Sharp

          I’m not focused on ‘one academic’. I was using that one example simply as a response to one of your points.

          • Eddie

            Let me guess: you work in this field, Therefore you have a vested interest in keeping aid going because it pays for your rather comfortable life, non?

            Ask experts what they mean by ‘poorer’ – you are splitting hairs here and prevaricating. The fact is, aid has done very little good for Africa – (it is ABOUT as poor now as it was 50 years ago – and most would accept that: South Africa props up them figures too, y;know!).
            Aid has propped up corrupt and vile regimes, made animals extinct, and the natives hate us for giving it! They do business with the Chinese instead who offer trade, not aid.

            Get real eh?

            Trade not aid.
            You are arguing for rhinos, lions, cheetahs, elephants, and many other species tro become extinct. Just so you can feel smug that you saved a few wickle black babies. Well, hoorah.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matt-Sharp/517025938 Matt Sharp

            Nope, I don’t work in this field. I do happen to do some campaign work for Giving What We Can, but this is entirely voluntary.

            You know, I do think that aid has often been done very badly in the past (as I stated above). My point is simply that aid *can* work, if done properly. A blanket statement like ‘aid never works’ ignores the cases where it has worked.

            If your concern is about propping up ‘corrupt and vile regimes’, then consider aid that doesn’t go to governments.

            Aid has contributed to the eradication of small pox, the near-eradication of polio, as well as reductions in malaria and serious childhood diseases. There are also examples of NGOs that have significantly improved the quality of education; see, for example, the work of Pratham in India.

            Your animal extinction argument is a non-sequitur.

          • Max

            Just to warn you, Matt: Eddie (aka known as Wilhelm and Hypocrisy Spottter) is a dyed-in-the-wool white supremacist, who is psychopathically preoccupied with dislike of brown and black people – his posts across the Spectator website testify to this. In fact the editorial staff at the Speccy should be ashamed of themselves for allowing a nasty, vicious white supremacist to post here, without being banned. He casually speaks on behalf of ‘Asians’ and ‘Africans’, believing them to be as nasty, bigoted and vicious as he is. His dislike of aid to the developing world is a convenient figleaf for his visceral contempt of any non-whites. Do as I do, and dismiss this crank by referring to him as Breivik. He’s as nasty, deluded and psychopathic as the Norwegian killer and white supremacist – fed a diet of Melanie Philips, Douglas Murray and, embarrassingly, Richard Littlejohn. He lives in an echo chamber of his own vile racist prejudices and if you call him on it and ask for evidence – like his casual allegation that ‘blacks and Asians have 4, 5, 6,7, 8 children’, he demurs and slinks away; don’t certain of Eddie’s beloved white ‘indigenous’ English (as I’m sure Eddie refers to them) also have large families? Why he refers to racism as “waycism” is beyond me – it just makes him look stupid and provincial; no doubt he dislikes “elf n safety” and the effeminacy it promotes too. The cosmopolitan elite he abhors can at least pronounce racism and health and safety properly. Baffling.

          • Eddie

            Your post is libel, sonny.
            I want everyone to live by the same values and be judged irrespective of skin colour (or sexuality or anything else) by the law.
            You determine your judgement of a person after you have seen their skin colour: some dark skin means a person has a right to say anything; white skin means a different set of criteria for your judgement.
            Ergo, it is you who are the racist – because the race of someone determines your response to them – whereas I am the non-racist.
            You do seem rather preoccupied with race though. Did you overdose on Mary Seacole lessons at school?
            And no, I am not a white supremacist (do we have them in Blighty? I thoughty they were Americans?), and my name is not Wilhelm either. You are clearly very confused – maybe you’re a bit tired after flinging those massive false accusations around eh?
            A pity – if you go on like this you won;t even have the energy to wank into a sock later, sonny, on your daily date with online porn – and then where would your sex life be? Have you ever though of visiting a prostitute? You’ll feel much calmer after you’ve los your cherry, y’know. They have black and brown prozzies now, y’know. Big black mama who can spank you, Maxie! Just think!

          • Eddie

            “Your animal extinction argument is a non-sequitur”

            No it is not at all.

            More aid = more babies saved + more population.

            Larger population lead to pressure on the environment and lead DIRECTLY to the destruction of forests, jungles and the habitats of animals. That leads to their extinction.

            Read some David Attenborough and belt up – get educated and wipe those sentimentalist scales from your eyes.
            You are clearly COMPLETELY IGNORANT about how many animals are near extinction – which is DIRECTLY a consequencxe of overpopulation – which is caused by Western aid (just as Africa’s natural corruption and tribal conflict is encouraged by it).

            (Oh I might have guessed – you’re a god botherer! Trying to save the lives of little black babies – abroad, of course, not in HAckney – so you can more easily get into heaven. HOW VILE! YOur stance is UTTER self-interest.)

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matt-Sharp/517025938 Matt Sharp

            You’re clearly a rather angry man.

            Do you really need to be so abusive about someone you’ve never met, and know almost nothing about?

            I’m actually starting to become more intrigued by the psychology behind your responses than the actual responses themselves.

          • Eddie

            Errr – and why noty be angry at idiots and morons who promote utopian twaddle like you as though your pretty little theory will solve the problems of overpopulation eh?

            Your posts are abusive: you smugly assume you are right and anyone who disagrees with your pretty little theories is not only wrong by far less educated, knowledgeable than the great superior species called Matt Sharp.

            There has been LOADS of aid for 50 years and IT HAS NOT WORKED.

            That trumps your endless prattling on about an article or research that supports your preconceived prejudices ( now THAT’S confirmation bias, matey).

            I have the guts to disagree with the orthodox conformist view – yours.

            Why do you get so very angry that others disagree with you. Anyone would think you would want a dictatorship of your opinion to rule.

            Oh wait – it does!

            And the UK government and the EU and the UN continue to throw aid at the Third World which makes problems much MUCH worse and which will ultimately lead through overpopulation to the extinction of all large animals of land and sea.

            And yes, my little god-bothering self-righteous friend, that DOES make me angry. The fact that it doesn’t reveals you as complacent and ignorant – as well as smug and simplistic.

            Or, in a word, you are WRONG in what you say – and history proves that aid does not work. I know the world looks flat – but it ain’t? OK?
            In a few decades (if you live to old age) you will see that Eddie was right all along.

      • BoiledCabbage

        “Africa is poorer now than it was 50 years ago”

        What cost $1 in 1950 would cost $6.98 in2000. 7X!

        So yes, adjusted for inflation, Africa is way, way poorer.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matt-Sharp/517025938 Matt Sharp

          The $890 and $1549 figures are in constant 1990 dollars, i.e controlled for inflation.

          • Eddie

            Statistics are like a bikini. It’s not what you see – but what you CAN’T see – that is important.
            Anyone can prove anything with statistics – fact is, Africa is poor now and was poor 50 years ago. Practically no change, if any, despite trillions and trillions and trillions of dollars of aid propping up the aid industry and giving self-righteous hypocrites inflated salaries for decades. Just so China can step in, offer trade so long as they get their hands on African resources (with no quetsions asked and no strings attached and lots of kickbacks to Africans as corrupt and against human rights as the Chinese).
            This is, apparently, progress…
            So the achievement of the aid industry has been to enable China to plunder the resources of Africa – minerals, oil, metals, and animal products (ivory, rhino horn, skins) all of which make animals extinct. Brilliant!

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matt-Sharp/517025938 Matt Sharp

            Have this, for the third time:

            William Easterly estimates that from 1960-2003 about $568bn was spent on
            Sub-Saharan Africa. This sounds like a lot, but it works out at
            approximately $29 *per recipient per year*. Saying ‘we already spend $29
            for each person each year and yet they haven’t escaped poverty’ does
            not have much rhetorical force.

          • Eddie

            So, how convenient that Africans breed so much then, so you can lower your average spend per head and bleat about how we in the West should send more free money to fund the lifestyles of corrupt African despots and their lackies (all of whom have Swiss bank accounts).

            You are either naieve or just plain stupid, son. Either way you are wrong and history will prove you wrong.

            Africa has got way more aid than anywhere else eh? ADMIT THAT at least. And what goos has it done?

            Not a good return on investment really.

            We should be like the Chinese – AID NOT TRADE.
            We have just thrown money at beggars which has been stolen by their pimps – and both beggars and pimps hate us for it.
            Time to get real and grow up.
            Read some academics that argue against aid and the expose the aid industry. You select the same one every time (is he your dad?)

  • http://www.philvernon.net/ Phil Vernon

    In a diatribe full of rather tired tropes, in which his style undermines the argument he makes, Foreman’s main points when stripped of rhetoric can be summarised quite simply as:

    – The domestic politics of foreign aid are complex and at times seem rather contradictory
    – The UK’s growing aid budget is suported more by the elite than by the rest of the electorate
    – The size of the UK’s aid budget bears little relation to either the scale of the problem, or our proven ability to achieve successful, sustainable development progress; indeed, it is unclear that enough effective mechanisms exist to deliver the rapidly increasing aid budget successfully
    – The UK’s aid sector is dominated by white and middle class people
    – Some non-white people don’t support all of the claims being made for aid by aid’s proponents
    – Some Conservatives see support for aid as a useful way to detoxify their party’s reputation, while some British people and politicians see UK aid as a way to overcome guilt at aspects of our national past, like slavery and empire
    – Much UK aid expenditure happens in places where corruption is quite normal, and much aid is thus lost to corruption and theft
    – Aid is to a large degree faith-based, i.e. we have faith it does good, but we can’t be sure
    – Some aid workers are seeking a bit of adventure through their involvement.

    Therefore he’d like to see:

    – A review of the 0.7% target
    – A retying of UK aid so more of it is used to buy UK goods and services, thus helping us while we help others
    – Better convergence between aid and other aspects of UK foreign policy
    – More honesty about aid’s strengths and weaknesses
    – Cutting aid from incompetent and/or corrupt recipients and delivery organisations
    – Investment in (UK military) logistics capability, so it can used in delivering emergency aid
    – A royal commission into how best to give overseas aid.

    Strange than when you strip away the rhetoric, most of what he says makes pretty good sense, even to supporters of overseas development aid like myself. Indeed, apart from one or two of the less useful bullet points in his first list, and the idea of using aid money to build UK military logistics capacity in the second, I think I have made pretty much all the points he makes in the past, either on my blog http://www.philvernon.net or elsewhere. And I’m a supporter of (good) aid. But because of all the offensive rhetoric, his cogent points risk getting lost.

    Foreman’s article reminds me of three things. The first is that by over-hyping the benefits of aid, and not being completely open about its defects, aid supporters have over the years laid themselves open to just this kind of attack. We really must stop being defensive about aid, and admitting its limitations. Margot Asquith’s comment that “it is the height of vanity to suppose you can make an honest man of anyone” is partly apropos here: there is a certain degree of vanity in thinking that the problems of underdevelopment elsewhere can be solved by us. But it is only partly apropos: we may not be able to fix other people’s problems for them, but we can certainly offer to help. We must however stop pretending, as happened at Gleneagles, that poverty reduction was a direct line result of writing bigger cheques. Because it isn’t, and saying so ultimately discredits aid when people find out they were sold a pig in a poke.

    Second, it is really unhelpful when those who want to criticise aid, as much as those who want to protect and defend it against all comers, feel they can discuss all aid as though it were one and the same thing. UK aid covers a multitude of virtues and sins. It provides food and clean water to victims of disasters, education to young children, technical training and buildings for justice systems, and general budget support to poor country governments, to name but a few. Some of the food gets spoilt, while most gets eaten by those who need it. Some of the water remains polluted, while much becomes clean and safe. Some of the education budget goes to build ghost schools, while some goes to provide life-changing opportnities for boys and girls. Some justice systems remain unjust, depsite the training and new buildings; in other cases incremental improvements are seen. And budget support to governments gets co-mingled with other aid and tax receipts, some of which are used to good effect, while much is not. This is the reality of aid in difficult environments, and it is good that a stronger light is now being shone on aid both at home and in the places where it is spent, by citizens there. But we should not draw conclusions – as some readers of Foreman’s article will likely have done – that because things aren’t working perfectly, we should stop the whole enterprise. Journalists should perhaps look at specfic aspects of aid on their merits, not treat the whole sector as one. The education system in the UK has been dire for decades, but the response was to try and improve education policy, not stop education completely. Aid is imperfect, and can be improved – and in this respect I agree with Foreman than improvements should come before massive budget increases. 0.7% is arbitrary, and can wait.

    Third, I would add that we need to stop dealing with aid as if it were the only aspect of UK policy which impacts the lives of people in poorer and less well governed environments. David Cameron put it well in his recent letter to the members of the G8 https://www.gov.uk/government/news/prime-ministers-letter-to-g8-leaders when he said:

    “…in our partnership with less developed and emerging economies, I believe we must put a new and practical emphasis on transparency, accountability and open government. Too many developing countries are held back by corruption – and this can be reinforced or even encouraged by poor business practice and a lack of transparency from those that trade with them.

    “Our collective efforts on international development over the years give the G8 both the legitimacy and responsibility to move the international agenda forward to focus not just on aid, but also on the underlying drivers of growth and jobs which will lift people out of poverty for good.

    “So I would like to see the G8 continue to increase transparency in our aid flows so people in developing countries can hold their governments to account for spending them effectively, and people at home can see the impact their generosity makes. …. The G8 can also support the underlying building blocks of growth, including the rule of law, the absence of conflict and corruption, and the presence of property rights and strong institutions – what I have called the “golden thread” that makes open economies and open societies the best foundation for growth. I hope our work will demonstrate that this is not just about what developing countries do themselves. We in the developed world need to work together with them to prevent money laundering and stamp out bribery and corruption….”

    The conversation can no longer be about aid effectiveness, but about promoting effective development progress, and rich countries can offer a great deal more toward this than simply raising their overseas development budgets.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matt-Sharp/517025938 Matt Sharp

    I think it’s absolutely right to argue that aid (both from the government and individual donations) requires more scrutiny. Many charities have historically not engaged in a scientific process to establish whether what they are doing actually works.

    Governments, and individual donors, should only donate to those aid programs that have clearly shown themselves to be transparent and cost-effective. There are groups such as GiveWell and GivingWhatWeCan that now exist to review charities and recommend only those that have proven themselves.

    But the fact is there *are* examples of aid programs that have worked. Anti-malarial campaigns are one good example. Malarial mortality rates have fallen by about 1/3 in the World Health Organisation’s Africa Region since 2000. This is significantly due to the work of aid organisations such as the Global Fund, and yes, DFID funding:

  • http://twitter.com/EvertJanBrouwer Evert-Jan Brouwer

    Seldom seen such a long list of badly underpinned arguments contra ‘aid’. The article leans upon a number of popular misunderstandings and, more serious, upon a few hypercritical publications, like those of William Easterly. There’s much more to read, and consequently much more to say, about the effects of aid – not just macro-economic, but also (and maybe even more so) social and political. The topic really deserves better!

  • http://twitter.com/felixhemsted1 Felix Hemsted

    I would challenge government ministers to read the book ‘poor economics’ by Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo. By looking at the fine details of why people are suffering in poverty, and why they make the decisions they do, they conclude that whilst interventionists & free-marketeers are both right in some respects, government policy has been directed at completely the wrong things in trying to alleviate poverty.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/NHCPI2N7JUTCI5JAKQJXQHHWP4 roger

    It is all about the pathetic ‘liberal’ education that a small but unrepresentative section of the population is treated to, it is the same nonsense that turned the British Empire into a salvation army crusade. DFID is like an extension of university common room politics with vast amounts of our money being splashed around.

  • Anjaan

    There is no mystery about British aid to other countries ….. it is all about paying bribe to have a say in their internal affairs …… !!

  • berosos_bubos

    Surely it is all part of ‘detoxifying’ the conservative brand, a ridiculous concept if ever there was. Therefore it is about running government for party political purposes, and not for the benefit of the country, and must be condemned.

  • BoiledCabbage

    Those forced to leave the Armed Services should be re-hired as an Emergency Aid battalion, equipped with all the relevant hardware, and sent to deal with genuine emergencies. That should be the entire remit of DFID, and it should of course be a quasi-military Department.

    The rest of the 4×4 industry, slimmed down to maybe a desk or two, should be in the Foreign Office where it belongs.

  • Jason

    Aid is a subsidy used by those who receive it as barganing tool.
    Somaliland on the other hand shows that Aid is not the answer. This former British enclave deserves recognotion for its success. While Somalia received Billions of aid this breakaway state (used to be a de jure state before) showed it doesn’t want to be our burden.

  • Anjaan

    There is no mystery about British aid to other countries ….. it is all
    about paying bribes to have a say in their internal affairs …… to be able to influence their policy decisions ….. !! ……. British aid is more about “destabilization” ….. less about Development ….. it is all about “British National Interests” ……..

  • Flippity Gibbit

    Having lived and worked in Africa and Asia – Pacific in both engineering and pharmaceutical industries for over 25 years I have seen first hand the corruption and utter waste not only in the supply of aid but as the result of aid.
    I refuse to give one penny to ANY charity that helps overseas causes. We have needy of our own and they should come first!

  • Alexandra
  • TheOtherTurnipTaliban

    It’s for bribing corrupt regimes for access to mineral rights via contracts.

  • Paddy Singh

    The genes of politicians world wide are very similar, be they from under developed, developing or developed countries. All want to be bon world stage to make sure of a job in their after life. This is specially true of western politicians who know fully well that all aid given is diverted to the dictators in charge and their cronies. Imagine the jobless if the British closed down their offices responsible for distributing aid worldwide? This is another business for those it has been outsourced to as they give themselves fat salaries. Very similar to paying the Network Rail thug who now earns a six figure salary being made responsible to convince the public at large of the plausibility of seeing the HS2 project through and keeping it within the 50 billion to be spent. All this just to save 20 minutes of journey. Someone is going to earn masses just as the dictators back in Africa do on British aid given to them.

  • Paddy Singh

    It is a question of a job once voted out of office, Look at Tony Blair., Would Cameron or Osborne or Justine Greening etc forgo the chance to such riches? This waste of money and enrichment of third world dictators and corrupt politicians of the developing world at the cost of the taxpayers ensures this afterlife of UK politicians

  • woohoo02

    The African countries have enough resources to sustain themselves, given the removal of the influence of Corporations and Central Bankers, being a Libertarian I suggest a removal of western companies from Africa and create an “Honest” Trust to re-develop Africa with coal power stations to “westernise” their economies, we have f **ked them up for too long, that is why they are camping in Calais.
    Pity that Ghadaffi failed with the Gold Dinar

  • Toy Pupanbai

    Politicians get little favours, here and there, and these need to be rewarded.
    The answer?
    A neat little job as in an NGO or Qwango!

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