Creating a Sustainable Future
Aid – Introduction
The West has spent $2.3 trillion dollars on foreign aid over the past 50 years, and yet:
What Went Wrong?
In his book The Tyranny of Experts William Easterly, Professor of Economics at NYU and Co-director of the NYU Development Research Institute, notes that since 1949 when President Truman announced the first U.S. foreign aid program, the West has been under the illusion that global poverty was a technical problem that merely required the right “expert” solutions. Additionally, the West’s “Blank Slate” mentality – the belief that aid needs no analysis beyond comparative statistics and growth rates – came, he suggests, from the perpetuation of an “engrained but unexamined premise: that people in poor countries cannot be trusted to make their own decisions” and from our willful neglect of their histories.
Rapid growth of average incomes has reduced extreme poverty so that the number of people living on less than a dollar a day fell from 1.5 billion in 1981 to 805 million in 2008. The success of China and India put a huge dent in world poverty, but sub-Saharan Africa has failed to reduce poverty or fertility rates, so the number of poor people there almost doubled during the same period from 169 to 303 million. However income inequality has increased during this same period. According to a report called “Working for the Few” released by Oxfam International:
So might knowing more about the history of a region help development economists understand their target communities, governments and countries and might that enable them to make better decisions? How much does a community’s history affect its current situation?