Tag Archives: Oxfam

Agonizing over Aid

From here

Nothing makes me feel more like a woolly liberal than the aid debate. I seem condemned to see both sides of the argument and veer between the ‘aid as salvation’ and ‘aid as imperialism’ camps. With equal vehemence and seemingly absolute certainty, aid pessimists slug it out with aid optimists, often citing the same evidence, but arriving at completely opposed conclusions. What’s particularly odd is that the most scathing sceptics often work for the aid industry, or at least for the NGOs. It’s a bit like the Automobile Association urging a mass switch to rail (if only).

The latest anti-aid salvo comes from Jonathan Glennie, in a crisp, well argued book to be published in October (one of the benefits of being in the back-cover-plug business is you get to see stuff early). Jonathan divides up the impacts of aid into

· Direct impacts: in recent years aid has funded lifesaving AIDS drugs for two million people, paid for 30 million bednets, leading to a two thirds reduction in child deaths in Rwanda, and so on. With the exception of the odd dud infrastructure project, this is strongest argument for aid.
· Policy impacts: cue big critique of economic policy conditionality, which I would share
· Institutional impacts: Glennie sees these as overwhelmingly negative. Again I would have some sympathy with this – see the revealing paper on the impact of aid on Ghana, by my colleague Emily Jones or the great article on Afghanistan in June’s Prospect magazine – but the impact of aid on institutions is complicated; healthcare and education are not just good in themselves, but vital to building accountable institutions
· Macroeconomic impacts: a somewhat flimsy discussion on whether aid does/doesn’t lead to growth, and whether growth does/doesn’t lead to poverty reduction, plus that staple debating point of aid economists, Dutch Disease.

Read the full article here


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A vicious circle of misery – food prices and chronic hunger

In El Salvador’s markets, the buzz of bargaining once echoed in the narrow streets as ordinary people tried to stretch their meagre budgets and fill their families’ stomachs for another day.

Now, anger and silence have overtaken the marketplace, as the price of the most basic staples – rice, corn, flour, beans – has rocketed out of reach, and those who once barely stood their ground are falling through the floor of poverty to its basement: dependence on handouts from international donors.

“People are stunned. And it’s not just the poor and hungry buyers. It’s the small merchants themselves,” says Trevor Rowe, a World Food Program spokesperson for Latin America.

“They’re bearing the brunt of the consumers’ complaints, and they have a hard time justifying the high costs. It’s a brutal situation for everyone. In the rural part of the country the calorie intake was already low. Now people are plunged into chronic hunger.”

El Salvador is not alone. Throughout the world, the working poor, and even the middle class, have been pushed into poverty by soaring food costs. International aid organizations and charities are faced with a crisis that is unprecedented in the last half century. Continue reading

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Filed under Aid, Food Security, Inflation, International Aid, International NGOs, Poverty, Social Protection, World

Aid to developing world falls for second year

Kathryn Blanchflower writing at the Guardian, published on Friday April 4 2008

Aid to the developing world has fallen for the second consecutive year, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development revealed today.

Campaigners said the G8 and EU targets to tackle global poverty were in jeopardy as developed country aid to poor nations continued to fall shy of goals.

Figures revealed today that overall aid totalled $103.7bn (£51.8bn) in 2007, representing a fall of 8.4% in real terms.

At the 2005 Gleneagles summit, G8 countries committed to pledge an additional $50bn in aid by 2010. Three years on, this target now looks to be missed by as much as $30bn, said Oxfam, enough to save 5 million lives.

“These figures today leave us in no doubt that the world’s richest countries are failing to meet their promises to the poorest countries, especially in Africa,” said Max Lawson, policy adviser for Oxfam. “The human cost of this failure is huge.”

The EU’s collective spending target of 0.7% of national income by 2015 now also looks badly off track, with aid from the world’s richest countries falling from 0.31% in 2006 to only 0.28% in 2007, as the effect of some one-off debt relief drops out of the data.

Figures from the OECD report show only seven countries met or surpassed the 0.7% target, with Norway (0.95%) and Sweden (0.93%) topping the rankings. Continue reading

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Filed under Aid, Development, International Aid, Poverty, World