Yellooow Monday! So check this out…we’re reading a book written by an African economist, Dambisa Moyo, called Dead Aid (pictured). We’d heard it mentioned a few times in random conversations so after hearing another reference to it again during a marathon of TED Talks about alleviating poverty and other global issues, we bought the book. We’re now 1/4 of the way through it and have to say, it sure is a one-of-a-kind. We respect the valid points Moyo brings to the table about aid even though yeah, it’s kind of a downer to all the success stories you’re used to hearing about when it comes to “aiding”.
But this weekend we heard something dead wrong about Dead Aid. During a Q&A with Bill Gates, Co-Founder of Microsoft and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, at the University of New South Wales, a student posed this question:
“Mr.Gates, Dead Aid, a book by Dambisa Moyo, illustrates that giving more aid in Africa over the course of the years did not alleviate poverty. Instead it kept the economy crippled with governments asking for more aid. This flow made a cycle of aid giving which resulted in nothing productive and it has been used to solve nothing except the immediate problems and the money is not being used to make businesses sustainable in Africa. What is the foundation’s view in this regard?”
“That book did damage generosity of rich world countries. People have excused various cutbacks because of it…I found she didn’t know much about aid and what aid was doing. She is a critic, there’s not many because it’s moralisticly a tough position to take given what aid has been able to do….having children not die, is not creating a dependency, having children not be so sick that they can’t go to school, not having enough nutrition so their brains don’t develop, that is not a dependency, that’s an evil thing. Books like that…they’re promoting evil.”
If you haven’t read the book or heard about it, Dead Aid is an African economists’ view about why aid isn’t working and offers 4 alternatives to aid in Africa:
“African governments should follow Asian emerging markets in accessing the international bond markets…”
“They should encourage the Chinese policy of large-scale direct investment in infrastructure.”
“They should continue to press for genuine free trade in agricultural products, which means the U.S., the EU, and Japan must scrap the subsidies they pay to their farmers, enabling African countries to increase their earnings from primary product exports.”
“They should encourage financial intermediation.., foster the spread of micro-finance institutions…grant inhabitants of shanty towns secure legal title to their homes…and make it cheaper for emigrants to send remittances back home.”
AN AID-FREE SOLUTION TO DEVELOPMENT is what Moyo claims her book is about, versus Gates’ claim that it’s “promoting evil”. Harsh.
So as we launch our social startup, Goodspero, a crowdfunding digital campaign production house for social causes, specifically education…I’m left wondering if supporting education falls into Moyo’s category of “dead aid”. Highly doubtful. As recipients of financial aid, many of us are grateful to have had the opportunity to graduate from college thanks to the help of various donors and as for us, we’ve always used what we’ve learned and applied it to “the real world”…which we’re now using to support youth’s education in developing countries who don’t have access to knowledge as freely as the rest of us.
I’m not sure cutting off aid completely like “shock therapy” as Moyo describes it, is the solution but I do agree that a lot of aid dollars aren’t going where donors intend them to go.
This is why we love everything going towards open-source, crowdfunding, and crowdsourcing. It puts the missions, goals, and control back into the hands of the masses, all of us. It’s an open invitation to DO SOMETHING, even if you think you can’t…and most of the time, you’re the only one who thinks that. 😉
So in the end, whatever our personal opinions, we THANK YOU MOYO for this alternative perspective of aid and we’ll continue to read on as we always have with an open mind…the successes AND failures of all things worth noting.
Now back to Chapter 3: Aid Is Not Working.
In case you’re interested, here’s a video of the Q&A with Bill Gates and Moyo’s response: