Great review of Dambisa Moyo’s book, Dead Aid

July 23rd, 2011 by Dave Leave a reply »

If you haven’t noticed ;-), there is a very healthy debate going on about whether our current approaches to international aid (and in particular, rich country government to poor country government block grants) is working or not to help these poorer countries grow their become less poor.

This is actually a very timely topic. Why? Because as rich countries cut back their spending to get fiscally responsible, aid budgets are going to get cut and so there’s a great opportunity (remember Rahm’s “let’s not let a good crisis go to waste”) to evaluate whether there’s a better approach.

Read: Bill Easterly’s review of Dambisa Moyo’s book, Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa

Moyo is a Zambian economist and this book has caused quite a stir as she comments very knowledgeably on what’s happening in Africa challenging the status quo of “more aid is the solution to Africa’s problems.” And she’s NOT a white middle-aged male.

Bill Easterly recently shared this review of Moyo’s Dead Aid book which he wrote back in 2009 on commission from London Review of Books. LRB chose not to published it (reason not disclosed), so he has has released it on his own.

I have previously reviewed Bill Easterly’s book, The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s efforts to aid the rest have done so much ill and so little good. Easterly is one of the most vocal critics of the lack of results (and often negative results) delivered through government-to-government aid, so his book review is, as expected, generally positive although not wholly so.

I also recently reviewed Poor Economics: A radical rethinking of the way to fight global poverty by Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo which supports some of Easterly’s conclusions on the (lack of) existence of Jeff Sachs’ (The End of Poverty) “poverty trap” concept, but also refutes some of them.

I also reviewed another book on Africa and aid called The Trouble With Africa: Why Foreign Aid Isn’t Working by Robert Calderisi which share additional facts and perspectives.

Please post to comments for other perspectives on this topic and/or other books worth reading.

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1 comment

  1. Brian Barder says:

    Those misguided enough to admire Dambisa Moyo’s book or to have missed the enormous reservations about it cunningly scattered throughout Bill Easterly’s superficially favourable review of it might benefit from reading a blog post that discusses the question of what aid is for (not such an easy question to answer as might appear at first sight) at (“Can aid work?”), or better still the even more thought-provoking full text at; and for two very different takes on Ms Moyo’s “Dead Aid”, see and The inescapable conclusion is that Dambisa Moyo’s book needs to be read extremely sceptically. She also seems to have shifted her position in several respects since it was published.

    Full disclosure: I am the father of the author of some of the documents recommended above, who is much better qualified than me to hold an opinion on aid and development issues.

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