An international charity calls for…. no more aid?

We don't need no stinkin' aid budget.

I stumbled upon this piece through Dambisa Moyo’s twitter feed, which seems to be entirely dedicated to linking to pieces which agree with her:

My proposal is simple, the Government should stop trying to manage international aid projects but should replace all its international aid with an additional GiftAid supplement for the UK’s International Aid charities. Then the giving public can decide the level and type of international aid, and both government and charities would save considerable administrative costs.

Yes, that’s Andrew Cates, CEO of the international charity SOS Children’s villages, actively calling for the elimination of the entire DFID budget to increase the tax incentives for people in the UK to give privately. It’s such a blatantly self-serving recommendation that I was forced to read it twice just to make sure I understood him correctly. His argument hinges on two assertions: that charities are more efficient than official donors (or recipient governments), and that

The public can choose charity projects which work.

Which, I’m afraid, should read: “the public will choose charity projects which are better at marketing.”

Check this space next week, where I will argue that the UK’s aid budget should replaced with scholarships for young development economists in the middle of their Phds.

3 thoughts on “An international charity calls for…. no more aid?

  1. Nicolas

    November 14, 2010 at 10:12pm

    Think ahead a bit Matt, and include postdocs!

  2. David Week

    November 15, 2010 at 6:19am

    I thought that Dambisa Moyo had a few good points in her book, though it annoyed me that such light fare got published and put in airport bookshops… But if she actually agrees with this (does she?), she’s lost all cred. One of the great weaknesses of all small-donor-funded NGOs is that they are beholden to people who don’t know much, and don’t have the time to learn. And I’ve seen this lead directly to incredible distortions, such as:

    (a) Mad rush to construct permanent housing in Aceh, contrary to known good practice
    (b) Mad rush to show photographable results in Aceh, including houses where there were no roads or services
    (c) Mad fund-raising by NGOs who’d never built a house in their history
    (d) Collection of funds far in excess of need
    (e) Inability to re-channel excess funds to Pakistan (for example) because they had been raised “for Aceh”.

    Say what you will about DFID, bilaterals, multilaterals… they didn’t do any of those, because they are beholden to governments, not individuals.

  3. Ranil Dissanayake

    November 15, 2010 at 8:39am

    I make notes in books as I read them. I lent my copy of Dead Aid to a friend who, when returning it, commented that he was unsure as to who had the higher word count in my copy: Moyo or me. He also said his two favourite comments I made were ‘NO’ next to the conclusion of one of the chapters, and ‘What the fuck?!’ next to her particulalry thick suggestion that oil money is less likely to stimulate corruption than aid.

    I think she made a couple of good points, but in the same way that a drunk shouting random abuse at strangers will occasionally shout at someone who deserves it.

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