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Aid and Other Dirty Business: How Good Intentions Have Failed the World's Poor Paperback – 3 Jul 2008

4.7 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Frequently bought together

  • Aid and Other Dirty Business: How Good Intentions Have Failed the World's Poor
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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Ebury Press (3 July 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0091914353
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091914356
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 2.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 267,066 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

"Superbly lucid and readable" (Guardian)

"[A] heartening book on Africa and remedies for its plight ... Bolton doesn't rant or preach ... he balances hard facts with strong ideas" (Independent)

"If you've ever wondered why Africa is still poor, this is the book for you ... Bolton writes with energy and directness" (Metro)

"Engaging, absorbing and enlightening - everyone interested, from the aid worker to the armchair activist, should invest in this book. If Poor Story doesn't win your heart and mind to the cause of ending extreme poverty, nothing else will" (Oxfam website)

"A vivid account of the everyday problems facing African countries" (Financial Times)

Book Description

A startling insight into how the West is failing Africa and what we can do about it - by an aid industry insider

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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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.
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Format: Paperback
A readable account of the ins and outs of aid and trade in sub-saharan Africa by someone who has worked in the field but has now stepped aside to give a non-partisan view.The book looks at the efforts of Charities,Government and International Organisations in the aid field and how these efforts are dwarfed by the inequities of trade arrangements.The impact of aid and trade on people in Africa is highlighted with examples drawn from the author's on the ground experiences.The book asks what you would do if you were in power in an imaginary african state outlining the demands on your budget and the unreliability of your income sources.The book brings home the failure of the wealthy nations of the world to deliver on their promises and the need to keep the pressure on Governments to deliver for the poorest and the weakest.
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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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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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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Great product arrived as stated
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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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Format: Paperback
The title is, I think, somewhat misleading. The implication is that the author, a former aid worker, will be dishing the dirt on the aid industry, but this is not at all the thrust of the book, albeit that the duplication and waste of aid provided via charities is mentioned. What we get is an analysis of the different types of aid, and the advantages and disadvantages of various aid pathways - charity, national and international bodies like the IMF and World Bank. The importance of trade is also emphasised and the impact of globalisation and international trading arrangements on poor countries. The author does not indulge in the easy and simplistic anti-globalisation, anti-capitalist rhetoric of some campaigners.

The author employs a very useful fictitious average African country with a new leader trying to deliver improvements to the life of his people. The impossibility of the decisions facing many African governments is highlighted very clearly through this approach which sounds like it might be gimmicky but isn't.

At the end of the book, he reminds us that as consumers we have power to press corporations to behave better through our purchasing decisions. Up to a point I agree, but there are likely to be people in the West for whom ethical purchasing is just too expensive, and some corporate efforts have too much of the fig leaf approach. The book very clearly shows the distorting effect of subsidies, especially farm subsidies. In certain areas, such as US subsidies to cotton farmers, the approach beggars belief regardless of the impact on poor countries. It is ironic that the West complains about various countries in Asia dumping goods in the West or using currency manipulation and low labour costs to undercut Western producers.
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