December Book of The Month: Dambisa Moyo, Dead Aid
In the past fifty years, more than $1 trillion in development-related aid has been transferred from rich countries to Africa. Has this assistance improved the lives of Africans? No. In fact, across the continent, the recipients of this aid are not better off as a result of it, but worse—much worse.
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In Dead Aid Dambisa Moyo seeks to debunk the myth that ‘billions of dollars in aid sent from wealthy countries to developing African nations has helped to reduce poverty and increase growth.’ She does this by drawing sharp contrasts between African countries that have “rejected the aid route and prospered” against other African countries that have become extremely reliant on foreign aid, and how this has resulted in increased poverty within these respective states.
She argues that the converse is in fact true. This is to say that poverty levels within the African region have continued to spiral out of control, with economic growth rates steadily declining. The question begs, ‘Has this assistance improved the lives of Africans?’ No. In fact, across the continent, the recipients of this aid are not better off as a result of it, but worse–much worse.’
Dead Aid illumes the manner in which this foreign aid, which is freely given, eventually fosters a culture of need which diminishes the capacity of developing nations. This over-reliance on aid has trapped developing nations in a cycle of ‘aid dependency, corruption, market distortion and further poverty, leaving them with nothing but the “need” for more aid’.
But, in spite of her deep felt, and necessary critique on the state of foreign aid to Africa, she shares some solutions that could eventually, given time, emancipate Africa from her reliance on aid related assistance. Although Dead Aid paints a vision that is unsettling and highly uncomfortable to read, it is necessary. It takes out of our blissful acceptance of the status-quo, and causes the reader to question and challenge all these previously held (and maybe even misguided) assumptions and attitudes about Africa.
Hopefully, the book stirs and awakens something inside you, and in this way, serve the purpose for which it was intended, to be ‘a clarion call to a new, more hopeful vision of how to address the desperate poverty that plagues millions’.
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Happy Reading, and have a lovely December!