Aid should not be cut: Letter to the Sunday Business Post
Sunday, August 23, 2009

HOME on Conflict /War off | Developing Countries off | Eastern Europe and the fSU off | Internet Issues off Art off
IT in Africa | Odessa | Ukraine | Ireland | Croatia | Economics

An edited version of the letter below was published with the title Aid should not be cut.

John O'Shea (Letters, 16/8/091) and Tom Arnold (Agenda, 9/8/092) will be pleased to learn that 'Dead Aid' author Dambisa Moyo may no longer be calling for aid to cease in five years. On June 10, she said in an interview on OECD TV that 'a determined effort' to wean African countries off aid could begin in 2050 -- a far less controversial proposal.

Moyo is a pro-market critic of aid. However, much criticism of aid in recent years has objected to economic conditions that have been attached to aid, and the environmental and social costs of certain large projects, such as dams. Such complaints are frequently about the IMF and the World Bank rather than aid in general and don't apply to Irish Aid or assistance from charities. Those calling for reparations are seeking more money not less.

The case for continual scrutiny of aid implementation and outcomes is very strong. It is reasonable to be concerned about the effect of large sums of (particularly bilateral) aid on the accountability and economies of recipient countries. It is fair to ask whether official aid should be conditional on governance, democracy or human rights. It is also important to remember that development and poverty are determined by a lot more than just aid. But none of this is news to Irish Aid or to Irish charities.3

In April, the OCED described Ireland as 'a champion in making aid more effective'. In the 2008 Commitment to Development Index, Ireland was ranked fifth. However, it seems you can have too much of a good thing. In the interests of fairness and 'sustainability', we are severely cutting a high-quality aid programme at a time when the world's poorest need it most.

Frank Humphreys


1Aid is imperfect, but needed, Sunday Business Post, Letters, 16/8/09
2Continental Divide, By Jennifer O'Leary, Sunday Business Post, Agenda, 9/8/09
3This paragraph was not published, so I have taken the liberty of slightly editing (and hopefully improving) it.