Aid: Can It Work?
Friday, September 22, 2006
The conundrum facing the rich countries is that everywhere in the developing world, and particularly in Africa, you see children dying for want of pennies, while it’s equally obvious that aid often doesn’t work very well.
Travel through the third world, and you may see clinics with signs proudly proclaiming that they were built by such-and-such an agency?but no other sign of life. It’s easy to build a clinic, but harder to ensure that doctors and nurses actually report for work in the days that follow?and when the doctor stops showing up, so do patients. Go on to the market, and there you may see the clinic’s stock of medicines for sale (marked “donated by” so-and-so, “not for sale”).
Continue on your way, and you may encounter bridges built with foreign aid over streams?but the construction led to erosion on both banks. So the ends of the bridge are a couple of feet higher than the ground, and vehicles can’t use it. Travelers continue to ford the stream in the dry season, and nobody goes across in the rainy season.
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