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on 21 February 2016
With the title of this book, and the sensationalist subtitle “An insider reveals how good intentions have failed the world's poor”, I was certainly expecting a scathing critique of the entire aid industry. Something following the views of William Easterly or Dambisa Moyo, who criticize the entire set up and almost call for complete overhaul. In that regard I had also waited to read the book, as working in this area myself, I was not in the mood for another pessimist telling how it all of our work is useless.
To my positive surprise the sensationalist title is nothing like the book, which is well-balanced, well argued and consistent in the argumentation: there are enormous problems with development aid, free trade and globalization (because unlike many others, the author, former head of DFID in Rwanda, does understand that aid alone is not the only issue affecting African poverty), but he is correct when he says “In the right circumstances, it is unequivocally true that aid works”.
His analysis is then to state what these circumstances are where aid works, and here there is a clear and absolutely correct criticism of the work he did himself (and the work I am doing), of wrong modalities, lack of ownership, coordination, interests... For an uninitiated into the aid world, this is an excellent introduction to the problems that aid faces; for the initiated, it is an excellent reflection and summary of what we (should) know to be the problems.
But as mentioned, Mr. Bolton does not only talk about aid itself, but also brings up all the hipocrisies and contradiction of (not so free) trade and globalization. As with aid, he does not reject trade or globalization, but says that they have to be managed, in complementarity to aid, to achieve what is best for Africa (this is a caveat in the book, also not clear from the sensationalist title: it is not about the world's poor. It is about Africa's poor. So while some parts can be general to the world, the author, in the book itself, does not hide that he talks from the perspective of his experiences with Africa).
If I have any caveat with the book it is only that it is viewed purely from the development perspective of the West, and only very superficially treats a big dilemma in the development world, which is the commitment of a given government. Surely he mentions corruption and that it is easier to support “successful” countries that have the proper institutions and stability. This is certainly not always the case in many countries, and also accounts for much of the poverty in some African countries, and the waste and unaccountability of aid funds.
However, the book is a refreshing and thoughtful examination of working with development aid, and I would highly recommend it.
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on 29 November 2015
A little out of date but makes a very interesting analysis and interpretation of the difference that AID does and does not make in Africa. If you want to help, then this book will educate you as to where and how to do so most effectively in an easy to grasp and informed way.
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on 10 June 2015
This is a brilliant book. Absolutely spot on. I recently completed an MBA in Humanitarian Development and needless to say churned through a lot of the current literature around these issues. Giles Bolton's book; Aid and Other Dirty Business was by far the best. To be honest, I learnt more from reading this book than I did in my entire MBA. I just wish someone had handed me this book sooner as I spent two years trying to get a grasp on these exact issues with mixed success. I hope for future students sake he considers teaching once his days in the field are up.
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on 19 August 2009
This book should be essential reading for anyone who wonders why Africa still needs loads of Aid, even after Bob Geldof and all the charity appeals there have ever been. Basically it comes down to our governments and their greedy, defensive ways and this book lays it out in easily understandable ways for you, the reader. The best thing is when he gets through to the end of the book he tells you what you can do to exercise your rights to try to influence your governement to do more for them. The standout sections for me were the ones on agricultural subsidies that i knew nothing about. It turns out that the UK governement subsidises farmers to grow stuff that doesnt suit our climate and then charges you and i more at the checkout to cover these subsidies!! That the US cotton industry gets subsidised for more than the cotton crop is actually WORTH make sobering reading for anyone.
These are just the tip of the iceberg though, as there are so many jaw-dropping facts and stories in this book you really should read it.
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on 23 December 2013
This item was delivered in good condition and within the agreed time frame - would recommend to others in the future. An interesting read
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on 24 February 2015
Great book, easy to read, and while it may repeat itself a little sometimes, it depicts a very clear image of the issues in today's world, and how it arrived to this point
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on 30 January 2015
An interesting and informative read, the evidence is enriched and enlivened by real life examples. It does not preach it informs.
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on 16 February 2016
Great product arrived as stated
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on 5 January 2017
gives you a bit of a insight into the aid business and how ineffective it actually is. Nothing majorly new, but still worth while read
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on 29 December 2015
Very interesting!
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