1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
"No business like aid business",
Amazon Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Ten Weeks in Africa (Hardcover)
My five stars are awarded not for this book's literary qualities, which are almost irrelevant, but for the profound sermon it preaches on the reality of the aid game. While I cannot judge the extent to which Shaw's bleak portrait is justified, he certainly raises enough questions in a sufficiently convincing manner to make us all think twice, thrice, many times, about the effectiveness of development aid, that provided both by governments and NGOs.
The point he makes is that, not only does aid virtually never achieve its supposed objective of making life better for the poor, but it actually makes things worse, keeping in power those who have caused the problem in the first place. By means of very many examples he shows how this is the case. For example, the slum clearing project which benefits only the property developers, while the previous occupants are sent packing. For example the emergency food aid which, when not stolen, is distributed free of charge thereby driving local food producers out of business. For example the beautiful western style hospital whose generous supplies of medication soon find their way on to the black market.
The main actors in the aid game are a small number of western idealists and a large number of corrupt locals. I personally am convinced that the harm done by both these groups would be reduced if we cut off the cash flow, or diverted a small part of it to the nuns who provide the only effective western presence in this world of violence and venality.