The political debate on foreign aid
After reading chapter 10 of the book, I have a shared opinion.
Sachs and Easterly have two different opinions on the foreign aid debate. Jeffrey Sachs said in an article for foreignpolicy.com: “development aid, when properly designed and delivered, works, saving the lives of the poor and helping to promote economic growth “. On the other end William Easterly says that gives an example which shows that countries do not need foreign aid “there have been plenty more examples of poor countries which grew rapidly without much aid — China and India (who each receive around half a percent of income in foreign aid) being the most famous recent examples. Meanwhile, aid amounted to 14% of total income year in and year out in the average African country since independence.”
I’m thankful for their opinions that since everything can’t always be black or white. At least, everyone can make up their own mind after reading the authors ideas and thoughts.
As for me, it is hard to give an informed opinion, when we don’t see what really happens, when we’re not “on the field”. However, I would take the side of Jeffrey Sachs since I think, poor countries do need help. Sachs believes corruption is a poverty trap, each one being a cause for the other. It’s a never ending cycle unless something can be done to stop it.
In the best of the world even, there would also no corruption since we’ve read that out of the money given for schools, only 13% reached them. 13%. Indeed, Over the last sixty years, developed nations have sent approximately $1 trillion in development related aid to Africa and still over 50% of the population lives on less than a dollar a day so I understand that after reading those numbers it can discouraged the people who want to help. Especially when they give money that will go into some official’s pockets.
However, for the people who are optimist there is hope as we’ve seen with the Millennium Project who have helped countries like Tanzania, where road, water, and sanitation projects have helped 5 million people, with an estimated economic gain of well over $1 billion. It would have never happened without foreign aid. However, I have written in previous posts that the money should be a “help” and not a mean that is taken for granted. This money should lead to actual developments that have to be within the developing countries thanks to the work of the people there.
I think that in a way Banerjee and Duflo address these issues sufficiently because they know what they are talking about. They’ve talked to the people in the poor countries of Africa and a they try to do their best to explain the state of the countries. They also give example of things that works and explain to us what there is a lack of access to nutritional food (i.e we have seen that a person could eat only eggs and banana and just with that they would have eat enough calories.) However, the subject is large and even though we know what richer countries could do to help the poorest ones, the means to put it into actions are harder because of many obstacles (officials, corruption…).
One of the reasons people cannot bring themselves out of poverty is that they can’t afford food to be able to work well, Banerjee and Duflo argue that the argument made by Jeffrey Sachs of a “poverty trap” is not valid anymore. The policy measures that seem to work are explained in Poor Economics where it says why lack of nutrition is more of a cause and that there is a need to change the food aid policies that are currently in place in underdeveloped countries. Nutrition plays a large role in people’s economic situations. A study found that when poor people have extra income, they don’t use it to buy larger quantities but rather higher quality food. I would argue that goals #1 and #2 are linked because if people don’t have money they can’t afford food and therefore work well (have the energy to do so) and they can’t eat healthy food if they don’t have the money. It is my personal opinion of course.
To answer the last question, I would say that some issues addressed and many global issues are taken. Thanks to Sachs and even Easterly, I am optimistic for the situation of the poor countries in Africa in a way that I wasn’t before. Even though they have different views on how to solve poverty, we know more on how to solve poverty than before. They showed the world what needed to be done, why and even how to do so. Finally, even though the Millennium Projects are limited, they can be beneficial and proved to be a big help.