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Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa Hardcover – March 17, 2009
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In the past fifty years, more than $1 trillion in development-related aid has been transferred from rich countries to Africa. Has this assistance improved the lives of Africans? No. In fact, across the continent, the recipients of this aid are not better off as a result of it, but worse—much worse.
In Dead Aid, Dambisa Moyo describes the state of postwar development policy in Africa today and unflinchingly confronts one of the greatest myths of our time: that billions of dollars in aid sent from wealthy countries to developing African nations has helped to reduce poverty and increase growth. In fact, poverty levels continue to escalate and growth rates have steadily declined—and millions continue to suffer. Provocatively drawing a sharp contrast between African countries that have rejected the aid route and prospered and others that have become aid-dependent and seen poverty increase, Moyo illuminates the way in which overreliance on aid has trapped developing nations in a vicious circle of aid dependency, corruption, market distortion, and further poverty, leaving them with nothing but the “need” for more aid. Debunking the current model of international aid promoted by both Hollywood celebrities and policy makers, Moyo offers a bold new road map for financing development of the world’s poorest countries that guarantees economic growth and a significant decline in poverty—without reliance on foreign aid or aid-related assistance.
Dead Aid is an unsettling yet optimistic work, a powerful challenge to the assumptions and arguments that support a profoundly misguided development policy in Africa. And it is a clarion call to a new, more hopeful vision of how to address the desperate poverty that plagues millions.
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- Publisher : Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1st Edition (March 17, 2009)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 208 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0374139563
- ISBN-13 : 978-0374139568
- Item Weight : 11.7 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.87 x 0.85 x 8.61 inches
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Top reviews from the United States
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Granted, Moyo is doubtless receiving more press simply because she is a black African female giving a fairly conservative opinion of aid. Others have been saying this same thing for a long time, but it's often disregarded as an excuse for saving money or keeping help from the poor.
I live and work in Haiti, and this is completely as applicable to this country as it is to Africa, although the Chinese influence doesn't apply here.
I recommend this for all aid workers, and really anyone connected with emerging (or not) economies. Aid is a bad thing!
Of course, Moyo doesn't go quite that far, but I certainly do. She bases her findings on well documented data, and arranges it in quite an easy-to-read volume. I'm looking forward to more works by her.
Excellent source material, top-notch notes section, great index.
Moyo lays out the cycle of dysfunction on page 6: Africa is unable to get on sound economic footing. & out of 10 failed nations are in Africa.
She explains three types of aid: emergency aid; charitable aid; and systemic aid. The first two types are plagued with distribution problems and come with strings attached. But it is the thrird type that the book addresses -- aid from one government to another that results in indebtedness and economic stagnation.
On page 11, she blames Maynard Keynes. Daring! And true! And this is probably the first reason why OxFam doesn't like this book. OxFam is all excuses for the failure of African aid:
1) it's the climate. It's the terrain.
2) it's the history of colonialism
3) Africans are genetically bad
4) Africans are culturally bad.
5) There is too much diversity in Africa. Tribalism and ethnic strife breed distrust between groups and prohibit consensus on policy.
6) Africans have poor governance.
Moyo addresses each of these excuses and turns attention back to the harms done by (possibly) well-intentioned westerners offering aid to Africa.
There's a problem on page 35: Moyo promises to look at 6 proofs that aidcan work, but she delivers only four:
1) the Marshall Plan
2) IDA graduates
3) conditional aid
4) democracy-dependent aid
Chapter 9 gets into Muhammad Yunus's breakthoroughs in microfinance. For more about this, I recommend the book "Banker to the Poor."
Top reviews from other countries
$£€ billions Aid given to sub-Saharan Africa fail to lift the bulk of the population of that Continent out of poverty (exception, of course, for the often fabulously wealthy African rulers) and, the authoress suggests, aid may even keep Africa poor.
Dambisa Moyo comes from Zambia but is not poor herself. She has worked for international banks and financial institutions based in the USA. It is worth searching for videos of her speaking on the internet.
While not the subject of this book, Ms Moyo recently served on the Sowell Commission on racial disparities in Britain, whose mostly black or Asian, members had the courage to incur the inevitable abuse as 'Uncle Toms' (one Labour MP absurdly likened them to the Ku Klux Klan; the disgraceful Professor P Gopal of Cambridge University likened them to Hitler's Propaganda Minister Goebbels) by questioning whether Britain is really institutionally racist and whether it is really mostly due to white racism that some minorities in Britain are less successful economically.
While her book is easily readable and not technical, to fully understand her arguments it helps to have a basic understanding of how price is determined by supply and demand, such as one would get from an introductory course in economics e.g. to understand how inflows of aid money to an African country can cause the value of its currency to rise and so make its products less competitively priced and harder to sell in international markets.
Ms Moyo believes that aid money lets African governments survive without developing a proper tax base and therefore without a local tax-paying educated Middle Class to demand a say in how efficiently public money is spent.
She is a little cynical about the rise of 'glamour aid' based on emotional appeals by multi-millionaire Western Pop stars, who we would never think qualified to decide economic policies for our own countries.
Sending goods e.g. mosquito nets to prevent the spread of malaria, provided free through aid, even if useful, can drive local producers of mosquito nets out of business.
Although Western donors can threaten to cut off aid where much of it is wasted through corruption or misgovernment, in practice those who administer aid are reluctant to turn off the flow of money. Too many thousands of them have jobs in foreign aid that would be threatened if aid stopped.
By contrast, Chinese involvement in African development is purely self-interested. However, for that reason, the authoress believes, it is more effective than Western do-gooders. If the Chinese, in their own interest, help to build a port and railway to speed up the movement of food and raw materials that China wants, the Chinese will not tolerate embezzlement, incompetence or disorder that disrupts this supply. Thus, as incidental consequences, the local authorities have to learn habits of reliability, and local people and businesses have the use of a new port and railway.
Such thoughts upset do-gooders convinced that their campaigning for development aid will Save the World. When the authoress has given speeches about her ideas to Western audiences she has had objects as well as abuse thrown at her.
Her arguments may provide excuses for some who would be happy for racist or nationalist reasons to let starving black Africans go to Hell. That does not mean Ms Moyo is wrong, however.
She has little to say here about the legacy of the colonial Empires in Africa. I have seen a video of Dambisa Moyo speaking in which white, Western members of the audience criticise her for not putting enough blame for the current state of Africa on European colonialism. Ms Moyo replies that she is getting bored with blaming Colonialism for Africans' current problems, when Colonialism ended more than 50 years ago, and in the same period many Asian countries who also experienced Colonialism have prospered.
This does not mean Ms Moyo has no criticisms of Europe: she says that every cow in the European Union (or strictly the farmers who own them) receives $2.50 per day. A billion people in the World have to live on less.
While it will be a relief for some readers that this little book is not a vast tome of exhaustive detail, others will probably say that the argument would be more convincing supported by more detailed examples. If you are of the latter view, you may prefer Paul Collier's longer, slightly less lively but still interesting 'The Bottom Billion'. I personally prefer this book 'Dead Aid', which confirms my previous suspicions.
Later in the book she points out how China has become very active in Africa. This is seen by many in the west as purly an excersize in self interest, but realistically the way the Chinese operate is giving real tangible benefits to a lot of these developning nations. Overal, I enjoyed reading this book as it trashed an awful lot of the general accepted viewpoints so popular in the western nations. I have lived and worked in several West African nations and have seen of a lot of the waste, incompentence or just outright corruption which is endemic once aid money comes pouring in.
Read this book and you will see that aid, in the present form favoured by the west, is not the massive boost so many people claim it to be, but more of a shackle holding back so many nations.