Thoughtful reflection from down under by Roger Riddell here:
Hmm… I broadly agree with this. To be fair I’ve only read the blog (I did read Riddell’s book when it was published). I do think that the rise of rigorous impact evaluations has addressed (better than anything else to date) these issues at the micro level. At the macro level, the story is more complicated. Lots I could say, but let me just make 2 points here.
First, the criticisms made by Deaton are important but (in addition to Riddell’s counter-arguments) Deaton fails to engage with how aid itself has the potential to address these problems (at least to some degree). For example, the issue of accountability being geared towards donors rather than citizens could be addressed through policy change and ensuring this is translated into project/programme design; supporting budget analysis, tracking and influencing on the part of civil society could also help.
Second, while there is ‘a growing awareness of aid’s short-comings and more knowledge about what to do to make it work better’, my sense is that progress is far too slow. Busan was not a success at all.
Thanks for posting this John.
Whether or not the negatives of aid outweigh the positives – and none of us have the evidence to prove that point either way – there’s no doubting that it needs reform.
We should approach the question from the perspective of aid’s effect on power relationships, rather than simply it’s effect on development and/or poverty indicators.
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