Development Assistance and Foreign Aid

 

Easterly: Planners Versus Searchers

In Easterly’s piece he outlines what he believes has failed in terms of foreign aid. He believes there are two tragedies:

The first tragedy: there are poor and marginalized who are dying everyday from lack of food and proper medicines.

The second tragedy: The West has spent 2.3 trillion dollars in foreign aid and has yet to get $3 medicines, that would have prevent 5 million deaths from malaria, into the hands of mothers.

In other words, the second tragedy is the fact that good-hearted money, and good-hearted people are not dong the right things with extensive resources. Additionally, Easterly asks should the West even be sending people and giving money to the Rest?

Easterly categorizes people and the thought process behind aid:

Planners: Advocate top-down grand strategies (traditional)

Searchers: Advocate bottom-up solutions to specific needs (alternative)

Planners

Searchers

See poverty as a math equation that can be solved or figured out

Admit that they don’t know the answers surrounding poverty

Look for blanket solutions

Hope to find answers to individual problems through trial and error experimentation

Believe they have enough knowledge at an outsider to fix the problem.

Believe solutions must be homegrown and from the “insiders”

Tend to get distracted by doing too many interventions at once.

Will do anything it takes to get a solution to a customer (ex. Malaria meds)

Look to keep pouring resources into a fixed object

Look for opportunity to relieve suffering

Asks, “what does the end of poverty require of foreign aid?”

Asks, “What can foreign aid do for poor people?”

Three Key Easterly Quotes

But if rich people want to help the poor, they must face an unpleasant reality: If it’s so easy to end the poverty trap, why haven’t the Planners already made it history?

The needs of the rich get met because the rich give feedback to political and economic Searchers, and they can hold the Searchers accountable for following through with specific actions. The needs of the poor don’t get met because the poor have little money or political power with which to make their needs known and they cannot hold anyone accountable to meet those needs. They are stuck with Planners. The second tragedy continues.

If there were such simple answers, there would be many more development success stories than there are now.

Child Sponsorship

SummaryChild sponsorship is a proven mechanism for raising large amounts of funding but there is little to no research concerning its impact (p.5)

Child sponsorship programs divided into two:

  1. Individual child as the recipient of the sponsor’s donation
  2. Development programs to benefit all children into community

Sponsorship – Two Sides of the Argument:

  • Fowler (1997) makes a distinction between ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ money, arguing that ‘sustained micro-development needs hot money’.

Argument Against Child Sponsorship

  1. It has a negative impact on the Child, the Child’s family and community.
  2. Agencies mislead sponsors and play on their ignorance of the complexity of development issues
  3. It is cumbersome and expensive to administer

Argument For Child Sponsorship

  1. Sponsorship is a means of supporting development work
  2. It is an effective fundraising strategy
  3. A tool of development education amongst sponsors

 

Is it Possible to Just Give Money to the Poor – Hanlon

Summary: “We are not giving enough attention to how poor people get themselves out of poverty. We always assume that we must do it for them.”

Hanlon looks at two situations (ex-soldiers and flood victims) in which poor people were just given money. Ultimately he concludes that it is an effective means of development, that the money was used prudently, and that it had a positive effect on their lives with comparatively low overhead. He talks about its efficiency and scalability.

Hanlon also makes an assertion that one of the reasons we do not just give money to the poor is rooted in a belief that we deserve to be rich (we are smarter, harder working or ‘better’ in some way) and we have to help them out of poverty. He also discusses how many people in the north and the elite of the developing world make their livelihoods off working in the system of aid.

Forward to Dead Aid – Ferguson:

“Aid is the disease of which it pretends to be the cure”: In his forward to Moyo’s book, Ferguson discusses Moyo’s militant dismissal of foreign aid in Africa; this is on the assertion that it does not work, and does more harm than good. More importantly, Ferguson claims, is that Moyo’s opinion is the opinion of an actual intelligent, educated African, rather than many white men bickering about it. Ferguson applauds Moyo’s conviction that Africa must learn from Asia, that the aid taps need to be shut off, and that Africa undergo some development of the “tough love”/”shock therapy” variety.

Ferguson outlines Moyo’s four essential economic suggestions:

  1. Africa should follow Asian emerging markets
  2. Africa should encourage Chinese policy of large-scale direct investment in Africa
  3. Africa should continue to press for free trade and free agricultural policies
  4. Africa should encourage financial intermediation (especially microfinance, as has flourished in Asia).

Questions:

  • Easterly and Jeffrey Sachs (http://jeffsachs.org/) each represents the two poles of the foreign aid debate: bottom-up solutions to specific needs (Searchers) versus top-down grand strategies (Planners). Do you believe there is room for both Planners and Searchers in the development process? Why or why not?
  • What are your personal experiences with child sponsorship? Where do you fall on the debate?
  • How do you respond to Hanlon’s assertion that the aid system, at least in part, is rooted in our own prejudices and self-care?
  • How do you (as an African, as a white/western person involved in Aid, or as a person outside of either party) respond to Ferguson/Moyo?
  • What are the possible negative effects of Moyo’s four economic suggestions? Are there any? Does her emphasis seem to parallel modernisation theories of development or human
  • transformational theories of development?

Expansion:

Resources:

46 thoughts on “Development Assistance and Foreign Aid

  1. Rachel Bechtel

    This weeks reading was interesting for me and is something that I have wondered about. Even after reading it is still difficult to come up with a solid opinion on the subject of child sponsorship….it probably depends a lot on the organization you go through. I have sponsored a child for the past 12 years or so. It has been an amazing experience to watch Sudhir grow from 5 years old to now almost 18. I have had the privilege of meeting him twice now in Southern India. Each time he is so thankful toward me for sponsoring him and writing him… I got to see first hand what sponsorship money does for a person. I know that not 100% of my monthly money goes toward specifically him, but i got to hear about what he is learning in school, sunday school, and the gifts he receives from the program because he is a sponsored child. I am sure that this organizations and others can do better in certain areas, but for now I am pro child sponsorship. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Denae Bauer

      Rach-thanks for your reply. I think I’m “ok” with child sponsorship too. It can address immediate need and long term needs. Two sponsored children my family has supported have gone on to get their degrees in higher education, they have jobs and have a better quality of life. One of the former children now works for the betterment of his community, by working for a local charity organization and in education. I would assume the long term need and follow up would be hard to do, especially when a child blossoms into adulthood–most child sponsorships end at 18 or early 20s. It begs the question, what type of follow up is needed for “successful” sponsorships? When is a good age to “let go” and let a then adult explore the world on their own? Is there a way to have local mentoring and accountability with nationals of a country, or is a “big brother”/American organization always watching and always providing the mentor-ship and relationships with the child. It is so very important for children (no matter where they are from) to have positive role models in their day to day life–not just letters of encouragement from a white face thousands of miles away. It would be interesting to go back and check with the organization my family sponsored with to see how they ran their programs and what steps were in place for local and day to day mentoring and relationships…

      Reply
      1. Monica Cheng

        Denae,
        You raise some insightful questions about follow-up for sponsored children, especially after they “age out” of the sponsorship program. I love your idea of having nationals/locals do mentoring and follow-up for these children–that seems to be the most culturally appropriate and respectful approach for doing follow-up, and it demonstrates a belief that local adults can be the best role models for children from their own communities. As we have been learning throughout our classes, perhaps the best thing we can do for a community as “outsiders” is to recognize that often the community itself knows the needs of its own people the best.

        Reply
    2. ASee

      That is so cool you got to meet him! When I was a kid, we sponsored a girl in Africa named Nansubuga, and I felt almost like she was an adopted sister. We wrote back and forth often, and as a child it made talking about other countries seem more real. As much as monetary sponsorship can cause divisions among children, the overall impact is very positive- that brand new article from the Denver Post was really encouraging. Obviously, changes can always be made to programs to make them better, and as I sit here, I’m looking over my roommate’s Food for the Hungry sponsorship letter. They make a point to say they “will walk alongside the community in order to help them understand the importance of health, hygiene and good education for the proper development of their children and community,” among other community issues they are concerned about and addressing.

      Besides that, it’s beneficial for insulated Westerners to have a relationship with someone born into poverty, or at least a completely different culture than them. When you start caring about one person, you start caring about others–it can change not only the sponsored child’s life, but also your own.

      Reply
      1. Stephanie Bickler

        Thank Rachel and Amanda for you experiences! I too, have a hard time with whether I am for or against ‘child sponsoring.’ It is a very complex situation. Your stories are awesome and I love that you were able to connected with your child that you sponsored. The thing that makes me sad is I do not think that everyone approaches the situation that you two have. I think a lot of people just send in money to make themselves feel better and do not pay attention to see where actually there money is going and what it is doing for the child that they are sponsoring.
        Another thought that came to mind during the readings is how hard it is to track and map these children. At my organization, many people ask if they can sponsor a specific child. We tell them that we cannot do that because we do not have the capacity to track these children especially since we have projects all over the world. It is cool however to see other organizations who are able to track their children and give the donors feedback and the personal stories.
        Personally, the only type of ‘child sponsorship’ that I have done was during my time in Zambia. Since I was there for an extended period of time and did research in specific orphanages and schools I was able to create relationships. I brought extra money with me with the hope that I would make a connection with someone or some organization and be able to help out in some way. I ended up giving money to Kasisi Orphanage outside of Lusaka to do whatever they needed with the money.
        While at Kasisi, I met a little boy named Johnathan. His aunt had dropped him off at the orphanage only a few days earlier. Both his parents had died from AIDS and he had also contracted the virus too. His aunt took him in when his parents passed, but could barely feed her own children let alone provide Johnathan with the ARVs that he needed and the other care that comes along with the disease. He was 7 but looked like he was maybe 4 years old on the bed skin and bones. He would scream in pain most days and had a hard time eating anything because it hurt so bad. I usually would spend time just sitting there holding his hand. I just wanted to let him know that someone was there for him. The nurses told me that they were essentially doing what they could to make his passing as comfortable as possible. They had hardly and pain killers and so were trying to ration it out so he would not have to go a day without them in his system, but I am not sure that it really made a difference.
        I had a hard time with this experience and by the time I had to leave to come home it was still the same circumstances for Johnathan. I cried myself to sleep every night wondering what was happening to him, most of all I just wanted him to stop hurting. I emailed the director of the orphanage almost daily when I returned home to find out any news on Johnathan. For a few months I had not heard anything and felt hopeless. Then, a few months later I received an email from the director. There was a picture attached to the email with a healthy looking boy smiling the biggest smile I had ever seen. Who is that? I started to read the letter and realized it was Johnathan!!!!!!!!!!! She had not emailed me back because he had gone through three blood transfusions, 2 rounds of tuberculosis medication, and daily ARVs. He had survived!!!! He will have to take ARVs for the rest of his life, but he survived! She then told me that she had put aside the money I had donated to the orphanage and took him out on a special date to the city after he was released from the hospital. I still think of him every day, he has shaped my life in a way I never thought possible.

        Reply
        1. Elizabeth

          Wow, thank you so much for Sharing, Stephanie! I think your story is a huge testament to the power of actual connection to another person a world away. One of the many questions surrounding sponsorship is, of course, does it provide that? I think the answers can be yes and no – as people have pointed out. I think I’ve experienced that too.

          Years ago, I started sponsoring a little girl named Stevi through Compassion. I made the decision to sponsor after I had been convicted that I wasn’t putting my money where my mouth was, and that it was a tangible action I could take to help someone who needed it. I wanted to be really committed. I poured over the info on line, choosing “my” little girl.

          And it was a very special experience. We wrote letters back and forth and I shared pictures with her and thought of her often and sent her gifts and felt connected to her. Then, one day, just a few months ago I got a letter saying Stevi was no longer a part of the program and they had assigned me another child, similar to Stevi in age and location in the world.

          And it was a strangely difficult experience. Stevi had been “my” little girl, and I had invested so much, and they couldn’t provide me with many details of why she wasn’t in the program, and worst of all, now I’ve become a “bad” sponsor for this new little girl, who I haven’t really written, or connected with at all. She’s just a deduction from my bank account every month.

          I’m sure that doesn’t feel very good to her. So I’ve failed on that end, contributing to the problem of sponsorship.

          I think it can be a very good tool, but like so many things, there can be unintended consequences. Even so, Fara (new little girl) is still getting the physical benefits that sponsorship does provide from an organization that has some of the most promising data around. Surely, surely, that is better than nothing?

          I can’t shake the idea that it is an overall positive thing for people who haven’t been able to to make connections like you have Stephanie, allowing people to become connected in a way they couldn’t.

          Reply
        2. NaThor

          Wow! Stephanie!

          Thank You for sharing your story about little Johnathan. He is an wonderful example of what aid can do if done well. I am glad that he now has the opportunity to live a healthy life.

          I am undecided as to how I feel about child sponsorship. I think, like Rachel pointed out, that it would depend on the organization I was going through. I feel like a lot of people don’t really do their homework and they give because it gives them a warm fuzzy feeling. But maybe that is me being pessimistic. I, in general, like to think of people as good, because we are all created by GOD. People want to do good. But I feel like they want the “fast food” way of doing good. (I hope that made since)

          Thank You for Sharing Stephanie. I really appreciate your story.

          ~Na’

          Reply
    3. Auzeen Rasaie

      Rachel- That is so amazing that you were able to meet the boy you sponsored. My friends family I grew up with had a similar experience with a child in Mexico they sponsored, they always wrote letters and had pictures of him and his family and they were able to hear about the ways that their sponsorship had helped his family. I don’t think that should ever be discounted, if every family that had the means sponsored another family and had a similar relationship that provided some accountability for where the money was going imagine what the impact would be! I think too many people disregard these sorts of efforts because there are the organizations that are doing this as a means to exploit the less fortunate to make money, but that is the beauty of the internet and watch dog organizations that can provide information! It doesn’t take much effort to get a little background before you do something like this so you have that peace of mind in knowing your money is being used for good.

      Reply
  2. ASee

    Easterly’s article is one of my favorite of the semester. The only reason we should have Planners is to Plan how to Search better. I loved his analogy of training a cow to win the Kentucky Derby…it’s not going to happen, and you’re going to waste a lot of time and resources trying to get there. When it’s late at night and I want to make a cheesecake, I can’t just say, well, I don’t have cream cheese, but maybe if I try hard enough using just cream it’ll work. Instead, I see that I have ingredients to make chocolate chip cookies, and make those instead. Besides actually solving solvable problems, the Searcher’s method deeply involves members of the target community. They become the impetus behind the success of the project, not the amount or application of outside aid.

    This doesn’t mean we can’t have goals or fight for top-down change. It also doesn’t mean everything must be done through a free-market or without aid. It just means that those we would like to help should act as investors in projects from the get-go, being involved in the supply and demand chain. Aid will be more effective if there is a demand for it and if suppliers are sensitive to the outcome of giving their supply. Taking responsibility for outcome of projects is a huge step in the right direction–Easterly points out that most of the time, we do not hear back about how a project worked out. People just set more goals, not even based on results from the last round. Not much of a Planner, if you ask me.

    Reply
    1. Elizabeth

      I agree with you about a lot of this, Amanda. I too think Easterly makes some really solid points. Even though I don’t always agree with his ultimate conclusions, I think his criticism of current systems of development are always really excellent and vital. I think most important to Easterly’s ideas (in this and other articles) is that we have to – MUST – take responsibility for our actions in the development world, which may include accepting that we have failed, or caused harm, and doing what is practically effective. That our good intentions do not make up for reality.

      Reply
      1. Monica Cheng

        Amanda,
        I agree with you that those we are trying to help need to be invested in projects from the beginning; it just seems like good practice in any sector (non-profit, business, development aid) to get buy-in from all stakeholders, because that is key to a project’s success. And, I think that any project should have a built-in accountability structure or feedback loop; how can anything be improved without such a structure or without feedback from those impacted by the work? It seems to me that lack of accountability or feedback reflects one of several attitudes: ignorance, laziness, or arrogance. All of these are impediments to the creation of an efficient, successful aid-delivery system.

        Reply
  3. Jessica Calladine

    Awesome blog 🙂
    I think the back and forth between the two polar opposites links to the ongoing argument as to who the true heroes of foreign aid are (to borrow one of Easterly’s images) and which of them better serves the needs of developing nations. I personally don’t think it’s a question of either/or, or even neither/nor. As with any complex problem, the answer does not come from one sweeping romanticized solution on either end of the spectrum that neatly allocates roles to different bodies of people. There needs to be a much bigger effort towards collaboration between collective bodies: each, when acting responsibly, serves a purpose that the other cannot. Progress won’t arise out of sole exertions from Planners OR Searchers, just as it won’t arise out of Government OR NGOs. I think lasting development will come to fruition through their collaborative efforts because both have their place and both, despite our criticisms, have had some degree of positive success on some kind of level.
    You could perhaps say that governments provide the “hard” aid and NGOs the “soft” aid, thereby working on a macro and a micro level, yet neither should attempt to override the other. Despite my being pro-aid (in the most well-structured, well-thought out sense!), the West do need to become far more aware of the fact their generic aid prescription doesn’t work and should focus on answering the question Easterly sees as being the right one – “What can foreign aid to for poor people?” Foreign aid isn’t a silver bullet, but neither should it be abandoned.

    To jump to Moyo, I do think assistance from the West needs to gradually be reduced as developing nations begin to carry their own responsibilities and become accountable for themselves. “Donors” should provide assistance but should not spoon feed their beneficiaries. To put the West in another bad light, developing nations have been continually socialized into passive roles and have become dependent on waiting for the power states to come to the rescue. This has subsequently stunted possibilities for homemade growth and it has also allowed developing nations to hold the West accountable when efforts to implement development aid fail. The West, however, should not be solely blamed for failings and responsibility must also be shouldered by developing nations – almost like gradually letting go of a toddler’s hand as they learn to walk. I would argue one thing that needs to be in place BEFORE aid goes in, is an infrastructure that can actually support the incoming assistance – otherwise it’s a bit like trying to furnish a house with no walls.

    Reply
    1. Elizabeth

      I really appreciate your sense of balance, Jessica. As much as the world needs people to rant and rave and see So Clearly The Answers to Everything (and I’m sincere in that, mostly because those are the people who offer the best and sharpest criticisms of the other side, calling attention to others’ blind spots), we also so need people like you who are able to take a step back and say, “Hold on. There is room for both, and a need to consider both.”

      Because Moyo, as much as that voice is needed, I think is blissfully ignoring a lot of troubling things that are coming out of asian investment in Africa, for example. That aid may have its dangers, but so does that. Both have problems that need to be figured out, and both have things to offer.

      Reply
      1. Jessica Calladine

        We without a doubt need the voices that rip back the curtains to shine a stark light onto something that for another person has been shadowed by their own convictions, and vice versa. I’d say they’re very often the instigators and inspirers; the people who make us stop in our tracks. Then as you picked up on from what I said, balance has a place too. Sometimes there comes a point at which tugging at either end of the rope isn’t getting a situation anywhere. And I realise this isn’t with all situations, perhaps more with those where there’s contention that needn’t be there if a more cooperative approach was taken. Like you said, there’s room for both, and I think it applies to our analyses of situations as well. It’s always prolific to know and understand both sides of the coin even if it contends with what we know or think, which alludes to what you say about Moyo and her, on the one hand, brilliantly eye-opening gets you sitting-up-straight voice, but on the other hand her discounting of the possible adverse effects…there at least needs to be an acknowledgement or recognition of the latter. But it’s understandable why people don’t do that, I think it’s where the ego and pride comes into play, whether we realise it or not.

        Reply
      2. KC

        Great blog, Elizabeth, Denae and Ambassador!! So interesting and your expansion and questions are very thought-provoking. There are some very clear and strong opinions represented in the readings regarding the good and bad of child-sponsorship, assessment of foreign aid, and which good-intentions are proving disastrous. It’s all very dizzying and I can just hear the debates it brings to my family gatherings. But it’s not disheartening to me. I’m glad that people and countries want to give enthusiastically and will continue to do so. However, I really hope there will be more accountability and research into the true complexities of individual needs and the best way to invest in what THEY need, and not what we think they need. I cringe that our Western mindset is always to throw money at something to make it all better by Westernizing and modernizing. I do hope that we can continue to learn from past mistakes and be more involved in what the receivers of aid really want and need in order to be healthy and self-sufficient. For the same reasons, I’m intrigued by what China is doing in Africa. They are not just throwing money at the poverty, but building, developing, forgiving debt, moving resources. While they are offering financial aid and support in a way that (some) Africans see as non-interfering, I hope that does not cost Tanzania, and other countries, its soul. When I read that historically Bagamayo means “throw your heart away”, I wonder if that’s what sub-Saharan Africa will end up doing via the stream-lined process of Eastern modernization. I confess, I wonder if it bothers me because the East is gaining momentum and influence in a way the West could not. (Boy, that’s convicting.) I have to remind myself that aid should be in response to needs determined by the locals and I should be part of ‘searching’ the needs not ‘planning/deciding’ them. Therefore, if China continues to develop/modernize in Africa, I hope it’s what the Africans want, not just what another super power has imposed. I’ll be watching this progress unfold, that’s for sure.

        Reply
        1. Monica Cheng

          KC,
          I hesitate to be as intrigued by what China is doing in Africa, perhaps because of stories told to me by a Zambian friend about the atrocities China has committed in the name of development in Zambia. He described how, on one of his trips back home, he noticed the pervasive presence of Chinese bosses in Zambia. Apparently, the Zambian workers are often violently beaten or even killed by the Chinese for what could be seen as minor offenses; his stories alluded to the way the Chinese are taking over Zambian business in his community. He talked of how this made him very sad. I am not sure how pervasive this violence is, or whether it is still occurring today (this was several years ago), but I think this is the sobering side of China’s direct investment and building in at least one country in Africa; I would be interested to know whether this kind of unjust treatment of nationals is also happening in other African countries.

          Reply
          1. KC

            Thank you, Monica, for that insight and I’m SO sorry to hear of your friend’s personal exposure to this injustice. As Grill’s article about what’s going on in Tanzania alludes to, some Africans are bitter about the Chinese presence that is growing quickly. Once again, power has the potential to bring possible corruption and domination in ways that are indicative of unrestrained control and disrespect. I will continue to look/listen for more background to the resentment and the protests he referenced. When I think of the slow development, financial and political power the Africans contend with, this would seem a horrible insult to them by their developmental investors. And I do hope these incidents were isolated, accounted for with authorities, and no longer occurring!!

    2. KC

      I like your terminology that governments could be considered the “hard” aid and NGO’s the “soft”and that they shouldn’t try to override each other. I agree there’s a need for both, just as within a job site there are different workers at different levels. You need cement and re-bar workers, crane operators, and the other construction workers, but no less important to the safety and structural goals are the admin,, inspectors, and managers, and bookkeepers! When we went south to do post-Katrina relief, we saw the huge shipments of supplies, FEMA trailers, debris-moving, heavy equipment–which was all very necessary and expensive. But just as important were the hands on volunteers from faith-based organizations who took the cargo loads of supplies and boxed and distributed them to homeless and helpless survivors. They were the ones who stripped down moldy walls and put up clean drywall, re-roofed houses, and listened with compassion to the traumatized locals as they told their stories of loss and devastation. Both levels of aid were needed, undeniably, and it truly is not an either/or kind of response. Great thoughts, Jessica!

      Reply
    3. Joshua

      Jessica,
      as always I appreciate the balance in perspective you bring to things. I tend to choose an extreme, and for this week I decided to err on the side of the “Searchers.” I like your mention of collaboration, that perhaps the debate should not be between two supposedly conflicting styles of development, but a realization that both parties bring something valuable to the table. Indeed, both types have had many good contributions to our world, and should be viewed as complimenting one another. You might have converted me here. 🙂

      Reply
  4. lpandra

    Aid can be good and bad. To a certain extent, Moyo has a point the money that is supposedly given to help the poor do not reach the poor, rather enriches corrupted government personnel. Furthermore, aid doesn’t empower people to be self-sustaining. However, as we read from various articles, not all types of aid is bad. Health aid is important and if done right, actually helps. If people are healthy, they will have a better chance of working. With Moyo’s suggestion of opening up genuine free trade in the developed countries for the agricultural trade, so that African agricultural exports can increase, it looks like a plan but the way it is done needs to be thought through lest it benefits a small group of farmers who have the means to export and use various high tech to increase their crop yields instead of working together with poorer farmers.

    As for child sponsorship, or any other development activities, I think an evaluation and knowing the existing resources is very important, thus, it would be beneficial to have a research group that works together with community developers to evaluate and see if what is being done so far is effective and if not, find ways to be more effective and ensure a leaner operation cost. So, the research group is a non-profit organization that does not do community development directly, instead becomes an organization that supports organizations who are directly involved. It’s similar to how the Association for strengthening agricultural research in Eastern and Central Africa (Asareca) supported the women working in agriculture by researching the best plants to grow, and even what to feed their cows to increase the cow milk’s output. With that said, I do not know what the model of such a research organization should be like, and how it should be operated – whether it’s non-profit, for profit, etc. However, one way to make it more sustainable is to work with research students, and parallel to that, increase the number of research students in different countries so that there are enough researchers to help in evaluating organizations. Of course, it is easier said than done but a lot of organization’s ineffectiveness could probably be reduced through doing an evaluation and some research locally.

    Reply
    1. Denae Bauer

      Liz–thanks for your reply. I like what you had to say about aid not being a sustainable option. I think this is a very good point. It seems that people jump to conclusions and say “well, I have more so I will give to those who have nothing”. While the intention in sharing and helping with others may initially be a good idea, I think very little is considered when it comes to follow up or aftercare. Dumping money into a problem repeatedly does not mean that the situation will improve. I wonder, do you know of some specific examples of where aid has “worked”–you mentioned medical endeavors? I think a good point Easterly made this week is that often times when people give money to medical aid, sometimes the right resources are not distributed to the right people; he cited malaria meds. Also, Aid and medical endeavors reminds me of the TED talk we watched by Bjorn Lonborg in our previous class. If he could rank the needs of the world and how 50 billion dollars could be spent, he points to medical endeavors at being at the top of the list. It seems that something so simple as getting medicine, mosquito nets etc. into the hands of the suffering would would improve and save the lives of millions. Here is the video if anyone needs a refresher: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JSRG2oujeo.
      I think you are right–evaluation and research when it comes to global aid is necessary. Are what people doing and spending money on, effective and causing positive change?

      Reply
      1. lpandra

        Hey Denae,
        Yes, agree with you what Easterly said that medical aid given does not always reach the people who need them. I think Project Hope does a good job in getting medical supplies and educating people about health issues and they involve the local community to improve their own lives because as we know by now, if the local people do not believe the Western way of dealing with health issues, then the resources would go to waste – such as the mosquito nets that were used for different things instead of protecting themselves from mosquitoes.

        Reply
    2. Ambassador Halefom

      Thank you Liz,
      Aid gets a magic way of doing business for westerners, but for the poor, it is precisely the most boring news that constantly sets them down. Whenever I read Easterly’s and Jeffery Sach’s argument, it tells me how the world is ignorant about this huge social issue. It is beneficial to study the different views towards Aid, but if I was one of the Aid organizations, I wouldn’t waste my time to listen to those opposing views because it is lots easier to find out about the problem directly from the people than learning from a third party. Of course, it is true that the fundamental problem of Aid is on the design and the planner; Aid organizations and developed countries imposed their own designs on poor states in the name of “Aid”. Partially, I am with Easterly’s position because history showing us that Aid never works and will not work forever; because of its poor plan and the character of the so called Aid agents. The bottom line is “do not give me a fish, teach me how to fish”, and that is what Jesus taught to His disciples. However, westerners are really expert at twisting the “good” into “bad”. Instead of exporting our dead fish and depend on the masters of fishing in the west, we can train many millions of young fishermen among the wretched.
      As luck would have it, the poor are not as fool as they were counted, they have already brought several actions that can assist them to come out of impoverishment and the socioeconomic crises they have been thrown into. They appear to give up getting dead fishes, rather they expect trainings and sharing experiences from the so called Aid agents through a bilateral and win-win trade agreements.
      Some poor governments in Africa have already started economic based relationships with Asian, Arab, and some European countries and among themselves. Which will eventually assist them to develop strong economy and political power internationally.
      As you stated, the child sponsorship has also great benefits to a child and to a community. But child sponsorship has also several negative effects on minors, households, and communities. Sponsoring one child within a family or community puts pressure on other family and community members in order to wait for similar help and make them lose their focus on living by themselves. One of the primary reasons behind migration from poor to developed countries, maybe it is the culture of child sponsorship.
      In general, considering the expensive overhead costs of NGOs and aid agents, the so called aid is not reaching to the poor because of various bureaucratic and time consuming processes. Thus, aid is not efficient enough to serve the poor, but to gain the aid provider and its middlemen.

      Ambassador

      Reply
      1. lpandra

        Hey Ambessa,
        I agree that it’s better to show a person to fish rather than give a fish. Adding to that, it’s important to remember that the people we try to help are also resourceful and it will be beneficial to let them show us how to fish so that we can discuss ways to optimize their resources.

        Reply
      2. ASee

        Ambassador,

        I totally agree that it’s best to go straight to the people than to listen to third parties argue amongst themselves. We cannot apply the same techniques everywhere; even teaching someone to fish is different if it’s in open ocean versus a river versus a lake, etc. There are some basics that are the same, but each technique must be tailored to the individual situation, and much can be learned from the native population, who know themselves better than any Westerner.

        Reply
    3. Monica Cheng

      Liza,
      I, too (as you know :)), see the value of doing research to evaluate the effectiveness of programs. I was actually just thinking about how, given how long child sponsorship programs have been around and how many organizations have such programs, there is so little research into their effectiveness! I wonder if this reflects a Planner mentality–we have a Grand Plan for how to use aid dollars from rich countries to provide children in poor countries with resources and we hear some good anecdotal stories about kids that have benefited, so that must mean child sponsorship programs are good. Thus, we should keep putting more money into them. I actually do believe that child sponsorship programs can be very beneficial, and they may indeed benefit individual children greatly; however, it seems that any program that is as large and ongoing as child sponsorship should be independently evaluated so there is a somewhat more objective and comprehensive picture of effectiveness. This way, we are not putting a lot of financial resources into program delivery methods that do not work.

      Reply
  5. Monica Cheng

    Great thoughts here! I agree with Jessica that there is room for both Planners and Searchers–people are gifted differently and think differently, and we all benefit if both types of people can collaborate around recognition of the other’s strengths. Planners can bring their good intentions, high expectations, ideas about needs and overarching blueprints to the table; Searchers can bring their propensity for finding smaller solutions that work, willingness to take responsibility for the high expectations, ability to adapt to local conditions, and gift of connecting to the reality of the poor. Planners can get the aid/community development process and discussions started, while Searchers may be more suited to carrying out implementation and follow-up in local contexts. Ultimately, it’s not just what we fail to do about poverty that matters, but also HOW we do what we do.

    To your question about Hanlon’s assertion that our system of aid is rooted in our own prejudices and self-care: I see this echoed in Easterly and in Moyo as well. Again, I think the issue here is not so much about how aid doesn’t work, but about the ways we deliver aid. And, though I tend to want to give people the benefit of the doubt, it does seem that the West’s current systems for delivering aid lean towards creating more opportunities for rich countries to “help” and “look good” by almost making the poor poorer; we want to give other countries the appearance of doing something–anything–to help. In some ways, this seems to reflect our values as a “rich” country: that perhaps, as a country, we care more about showing others that we are virtuous than about removing poverty. Finally, Hanlon’s ideas about giving aid directly to the poor are thought-provoking and raised this question for me: why are we so afraid of giving aid directly to the poor in large quantities? It also reminded me of an article I recently learned about that describes GiveDirectly, an organization with the goal of building efficient pipelines that allow people to give cash flows directly to people in need–they actually subjected their work to a leading program evaluation organization and the results are encouraging: http://www.good.is/posts/what-i-ve-learned-from-giving-directly-to-people-in-need.

    Reply
    1. Ambassador Halefom

      Thanks Monica, great thoughts and I like the “giving- directly” too.
      Monica, as you said if researchers and planners can come together to help the poor, it would be great. All the same, as an African I know how aid is playing there and I see the gaps between the aid provider and the poor are huge. It is because aid providers have different policies and rules to put through their aid work that acts not immediately serve the immediate questions of the pathetic. I do not think the aid money is reaching to the poor; even though the “giving-direct” approach aid brings some change in Uganda and Malawi, but it might not be sustainable change. Because most of the poor counties’ problem is not only lack of money, but also skilled human resources. For many reasons poor countries could not mobilize their manpower to the undeveloped regions to initiate development. Handing out money or other resources are not the best results, instead revising their old aid system can be very helpful. The old aid system has to do with a new and better system. Instead of providing too much money without proper monitoring, training and providing different training for community members with little money can act comfortably. Empowering the people with a new and more serious leadership skills can promote development in poorer states, particularly those in Africa.

      Reply
      1. Monica Cheng

        Thanks for your perspective, Ambassador! Your comment about the large gap between the aid provider and the poor and how aid providers’ policies related to their aid do not serve those in need well reminded me of an experience I had working on a community-based research project. I was the project coordinator with the non-profit and thus worked directly with families on issues related to their children’s health; my boss and I also worked with a researcher at the UW. One of our regular frustrations had to do with the researcher’s questions about why the families were not interested in completing the research protocols and why it was proving so difficult for us to meet the target completions for our grant. What we were dealing with there was the large gap between the researcher and the poor, and the fact that the policies related to the federal grant that was paying for this project were not really designed to serve the unique needs of low-income families. It is humbling for me to think back on this experience and to remember your point that there will always be a gap between me–the development “provider” (I use this term loosely) and those I wish to help. I hope I will approach any attempts to help with the spirit of humility, seeking to listen to and understand those I want to help as much as possible before acting on what I think I know.

        I also appreciate your reminder that the problem in most poor countries is not merely lack of money but skilled human resources. I do not mean to suggest by my reference to giving directly to the poor that this is the “right” or “best” solution, only to acknowledge and appreciate how innovative this approach is in comparison to our traditional methods of giving aid to large development organizations or governments. I definitely agree that skills development can sometimes be more important than direct financial aid; a country’s best earthly resource is always its people.

        Reply
  6. NaThor

    Hello,

    I really appreciated the Niall Ferguson reading his understanding of Dead Aid written by Dambisa Moyo, PhD. Moyo was educated in Zambia then by some of the best educational establishments in the world. But I like her because she is from Africa, because she is from the area that is receiving the aid. Her opinion is the opinion of an individual who is living with the economic mess (for lack of better words).

    We have been learning over the last two semesters that when giving aid or assistance we have to take into consideration the community and culture in which we are entering. When we are providing aid we are, essentially, financially/economically entering a new culture. What if this type aid does work? Is this aid/assistance what the community really needs? I like that she poses the hypothetical situation that I was thinking while reading this: “what if one by one, African countries each received a phone call … telling them that in exactly five years the aid taps would be shut off – permanently?” What would happen I wonder? Would Africa crumble? Or would the flourish? Aid, in the terms that we are used to thinking about aid is not doing what we think it is doing. It is creating a dependent continent, instead of facilitating independent countries.

    While I am not so sure that yanking the aid out from underneath Africa is the answer. Maybe there is a way to wean Africa off of traditional aid, while utilizing developmental aid to facilitate the individual countries’ empowerment. There has to be a better way.

    I think Moyo and more people like her should be listened to and not the “non-African white men” whom seem to be making a mess of things.

    Thank You,
    Na’omi

    Reply
    1. Jessica Calladine

      Na’omi a lot of what you said resonates with how I feel about aid as we have known it to be for the past few decades, especially your comment about dependency/independency. As I wrote earlier, this has negative repercussions for both the state that is dependent on another, and the state that is being depended upon. There ends up being a confusion as to who is responsible and accountable; dependent receivers can blame donors for x/y/z, and consequentially if often seems as though depended-upon donors have “failed.” Similar to that is the old story about if the West doesn’t give aid to such&such country, the country complains, and when it does give aid, it still complains – fuelled by the dependency/independency issue. I think these are definitely something that’s been enabled by the current system and I would again reiterate what I wrote earlier, which aligns with what you’ve said about needing to gradually wean countries such as Africa off “traditional” development aid. If this were to happen, I would add that this needs to involve action on both ends – the donor loosening the reigns, and the beneficiary shouldering more of the responsibility.
      So because I think aid should be a 2-way collaboration/relationship and sharing of responsibility between the donor and beneficiary, I’m hesitant to 100% agree with your parting comment about “non-African white men” merely causing further mess. Yes, we haven’t done so well, but I think we’ve always worked with what we a) knew at the time and b) thought worked; throw into the loop the Western psychologies we’re ingrained with since birth and you can see why we’d be blind – and it’s not an intentional blindness, I don’t think, although if the situation were to continue in the same way I would say that it is. A lot of research has obviously been done with the increasing awareness of the issues behind aid and what needs to happen now is for the processes/actions/applications to evolve alongside it – and that does involve giving up some of the head space to thinkers who come from within the aid-receiving countries. Again though, I don’t think it should be either/or, but collaborative efforts and thinking – maybe not 50/50, but I think to completely disregard one hand would be just as blind as accepting only one and not the other, especially when every part of the world is affluent with great minds and voices.

      Reply
    2. Elizabeth Stromsness

      Yes, I agree with you, Na’omi, that African voices should be given more weight and attention than they currently are now. I think it’s really easy for everyone to agree to do that, and really difficult to actually do it. Because everyone really is certain that their way is the right way, and so it’s bad and wrong if the other party disagrees. So we’re all for empowering African voices and thought, until it disagrees with our own. I find this true even in myself. For example, I disagree with some – not all – of what Moyo says. So I would like her to listen to me and change her thinking to the way I think things. But that’s not exactly given weight and attention to an African voice.

      Now, of course, I don’t think empowering the African voice means I have to always agree with someone just because they’re African…this is reminding me of some of the stuff we’ve talked about in Inslee’s class. ..so what does Empowerment, listen to Africa’s opinions and people and thinkers, actually look like? Even that is a challenge, because – guess what – not every African has the same opinion. There is no one singular, monolithic “African” voice. But yeah…I’m wondering about that relationship? What is the proper response to someone like Moyo, who I may not agree with entirely but desire to pay attention to, etc?

      Reply
  7. KC

    Like others, the child sponsorship debate has me torn because, we too, sponsor some children in Guatemala. I have wondered if it was hurtful, exclusive, confusing or even demeaning to the kids and their families. I wondered what kind of tension it could cause as kids are “picked”, like for a sandlot baseball team. Ultimately, we do it because we love kids and we have to do something! The three kids we sponsor live in San Miguel Chamil, a village our church has committed to a ten-year partnership with under Food for the Hungry. I think the organizational context of the sponsorship is an important part of the picture. Our church visits the village yearly (I hope to get down there when I can fit it in with school), our three kids have met our sponsored kids, we communicate throughout the year, we work alongside them with urgent, yet sustainable development projects, and we feel confident in our goals because they are the goals set by the resident Guatemalans that staff the FFH offices in Chamelco. I agree that bottom-up, rather than top-down development is usually more relevant, responsive, and viable. I do think there’s a place for bottom-down, but that’s probably more for the general financial plan- both for acute care and long-term, autonomy. I love that we can use our spiritual and compassionate response to compel us to do something, even if it seems so insignificant and imperfect. (But that’s why I like the inclusion of child-sponsorship within a community focus, like our Guatemalan projects for tree planting, stove building, etc.) I loved the Compassion International article’s statistic that sponsored children are 75% more likely to be community leaders as adults! That seems a good testimonial for short-term AND long-term development for future generations. I believe that affecting children is the best investment for the future, whether it’s spiritually, financially, educationally or other. What a wonderful way to invest in the future of those families and communities, as they desire to be educated leaders for more bottom-up development! So even though some things about child sponsorship make me a little uneasy about the potential partiality, I do think in the right context, it is a place to show humanity and compassion without necessarily proselytizing, or Westernizing, or encouraging dependence.

    Reply
    1. jlembright

      Thanks, KC. I agree sponsorship is a tough issue and I’m anxious to review the USF study (comes out in April?). As noted by Brehm & Gale, one of the concerns about it is that agencies turn to child sponsorship because it is a very effective way to raise money RATHER than doing sponsorship because it is the most effective development strategy within a particular context/community. It doesn’t mean sponsorship can’t do both but perhaps there is reason to be a bit wary of the profit motive. For example, when I was with Food for the Hungry a decision was made to make sponsorship a primary focus of the organization because it was seen as a means to compensate for cuts in donor giving. This doesn’t mean they aren’t doing great work (they do) but it was unsettling that the organization was going in a direction that was not driven by the communities they served but by the extra funding they needed.

      I think Na’omi asked a great question earlier: “Is this aid/assistance what the community really needs?” If child sponsorship is employed as a “blanket solution” cutting across large swaths of communities in Africa, Asia, & Latin American then I wonder if these development agencies are justifiably labeled “Planners” (per Easterly). Thoughts?

      Reply
      1. KC

        Thank you, Dr. L for bringing up the profit motive of child sponsorship. I agree this is an unsettling thought. Perhaps my Western mindset is given away here as I defaulted to an assumption that profit is priority to be able to help. :-/ I keep catching myself in broad and oversimplified responses. I need to back up and hope/trust that FFH really IS putting that money into community needs in response to what needs the Guatemalans have isolated and prioritized. For San Miguel Chamil, there is concern for low growth/weight of the children due to malnutrition, the smoke inhalation form indoor cooking stoves, the rain washed hills that make farming so difficult. Maybe they’ve lived with it for generations as the norm, or maybe they’ve always been concerned. I want to trust that FFH locals are steering the profits into requested development and to know that we don’t invest into pre-existing/past-tense failure, but rather into the future development represented by today’s kids (which is another appeal for those who want to give). Because, if indeed, child sponsorship IS a blanket solution, then yes, even NGO’s are “planners” with a generic template. I see the initial intention: raising healthy children, preparing them for work, education and leadership into the future –painting the picture of a widespread need, but we keep coming back to the reality that cultures and communities have their own particular obstacles, resources, and priorities. This is why I’m more convinced than ever that aid has to come from the bottom up which means whoever brings it needs to be ‘on the ground’, shoulder-to-shoulder with those who need a boost. A faceless, un-accountable, generic resource of donations, with no feedback, no long-term plan for weaning, etc. is not doing anyone any long-lasting favors.

        Reply
    2. Elizabeth Stromsness

      I think your feeling that “we love kids and we have to do something” really resonates with me. I think a lot of people might scoff at that but I think it’s worth paying attention to, and I also understand it, because it’s a very similar reason that I sponsor a child. It is very difficult, I think, for people who have not chosen to devote their lives to development work, to feel connected to the poor and desperate of the developing world. Child sponsorship is a very effective way of making those people feel connected and doing good (that’s why it’s an effective way to make money).

      Now, of course, as we’ve all been talking about, the question is, are people ACTUALLY connecting and doing good. It seems like in your case – with your groups commitment to a single group of people – then yes! That’s really encouraging that you’ve all made such a long term investment and are actually partnering with and building relationships with people. That sounds like sponsorship at its best, sponsorship done well. I hope the study that’s coming out is as promising as it sounds. I want sponsorship to be more than just a feel-good things for those of us who are over-privileged and disconnected, but want to do SOMETHING. 🙂

      Reply
  8. Monica Cheng

    Jonathan,
    It IS a little unsettling that sometimes organizations may turn to child sponsorship as a way to raise more funds rather than because it is something the communities they serve actually want or need. However, when considering how to evaluate motives, I am always reminded of Paul’s words in Philippians related to people’s motives for preaching the Gospel: “What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice” (Philippians 1:18). Here, Paul seems to be saying that, regardless of motive, good is being done–and this is worth celebrating. For me, the question then becomes less about wariness related to profit motives, but more about your last point: whether child sponsorship is employed as a “blanket solution” across many countries/continents without consideration of local contexts and without an evaluation of whether more good than harm is being done. Perhaps there is a way for organizations to balance out the desire to use child sponsorship as a way to generate revenue with whether such programs are actually helping; I’d like to think that most people, at least, work for non-profits/NGOs because they actually want to help people (and not for the money) and so the idea of evaluating the “helpfulness” of a program would not be difficult to swallow.

    Reply
    1. Joshua

      That’s an interesting perspective, Monica. Does the profit motive matter if the end the profit is used for good? I honestly do not know. In the end, I too would be happy that good is being done, regardless of the initial motivation, although I could not imagine being passive about working in a place who took advantage of child sponsorships to gain more revenue.

      To answer Jonathan, It would seem that to simply choose a certain development strategy or issuing a certain product to the poor despite them not needing it would seem a bit Planner-esk. Blanket solutions do not err on the side of contextualizing the needs of that area. It does not seem that Searchers would give communities what they did not need.

      Reply
    2. Elizabeth Stromsness

      I agree with you Monica, about a lot of this. I think it seems that sponsorship does enough good that we should continue to work with this model – but that doesn’t meant that there isn’t room for improvement, that we can’t develop the model into its best, contextualized, most effective form. Because here’s the thing: People LIKE sponsorship. A lot of people like sponsorship. And that’s actually a big deal, that there are such masses of people who like it enough to make it a part of their monthly (at least) lives, and sometimes more. So what can we do with it, and how can we do it most excellently?

      Reply
  9. Joshua

    Easterly and Jeffrey Sachs (http://jeffsachs.org/) each represents the two poles of the foreign aid debate: bottom-up solutions to specific needs (Searchers) versus top-down grand strategies (Planners). Do you believe there is room for both Planners and Searchers in the development process? Why or why not?

    The White Man’s Burden caught my attention this weak. The debate between Searchers and Planners was set up in a way where we had to choose one over the other. For the most part, I agree with Easterly. There is a Planner mentality in the Wester mindset, that we must be the ones to lift people out of poverty and that our way of developing communities will work across the board for those willing to cooperate. Having a Planner’s mindset leaves out room for contextualization, and more importantly does not acknowledge the complexity of poverty for particular locations. The fact is that poverty exist in different areas for different reasons, although there are indeed similar issues worldwide. The “Malawi model” he mentions on page 13 and 14 was a great example of how developers came up with a “creative response to a particular problem.” He rewords this idea later, “Complexity dooms any attempt to achieve the end of poverty through a plan..” I think he’s dead on!

    Consequently, it would seem that the Planner mindset could not coincide with a Planning one. Acting in a paternalistic way could never be empowering to the poor, could it? Searchers come alongside communities and hear them out, creating a development strategy in where the process itself empowers the people taking ownership of their communities. Because, of course people WANT to take ownership of their communities, except that they often times do not have the access to those who have power to change. Searchers are kept accountable and are open to feedback, something Planners would not be characterized by….

    I am not entirely sure, but just a simple comparison in methodologies would seem to render Searchers and Planners as incompatible partners!

    Reply
    1. Elizabeth Stromsness

      You know, I have a lot of respect for Easterly, I think he’s fairly brilliant. I think his voice is so needed, because he is amazing at finding the fault in all of our planning. His criticism is almost always spot on, and I love a good rabble rouser, who can fearlessly cry out, “You’re doing it wrong!”

      However, there are a couple of things I am not always a fan of with Easterly: 1. His conclusions. I think he sometimes goes too far with the pendulum swing away from any kind of aid, and disregarding the good that HAS undeniably done 2. His presentation of the other side. Frankly, I don’t think he’s quite fair to Sachs and his camp (who I am, admittedly, more in camp with – Jeffery Sachs is amazing, even if he’s a bloody capitalist), and spends so much time arguing straw man fallacies, that nobody who reads Easterly actually knows what someone like Sachs would say about what and why aid doesn’t or does work, and what direction aid should go. I read that chart above about planners and searchers, and Sachs would definitely be King Planner but I think Sachs would also reject nearly every description of a Planner as a proper description of himself and what he’s working to do.

      Sachs believes in doing large scale, systemic things, because poverty is often caused by Systems of oppression, chaining people to poverty. And I agree with him. And as for aid failing? He estimates (or, he did in 2007) that we’d spent about $16 per poor person per year for the past 60 years, and that “given how little that is, aid has actually done remarkably well.

      Listen, Sachs is an optimist, believing that he and his camp – and any who want to join his camp! – can save the world, with some radical huge changes. And Easterly is a pessimist, believing we’ve done a lot of harm, will never do good, and any little bit of good anyone may be able to accomplish must be done in an entirely different way. They’re both brilliant, they see things entirely differently, analyze data in entirely different ways from entirely different perspectives, and if you either read one, you’ll go away convinced. And, ultimately, I think there is a place for both – a desperate need for both -, unless we accept what Easterly often seems to be suggesting, and chuck the whole thing, give it up for the sake of…what, Easterly? African versions of Big Business? (That’s…my own straw man).

      Reply
  10. Auzeen Rasaie

    There is no perfect solution for the poverty issues in the world today. It would be great if there was a blanket solution and it would be wonderful if there was complete transparency as to where money donated for aid was going, but it is a flawed system. But it isn’t like people can just do nothing because it isn’t perfect. For me I am for child aid more than I am not. I think it is difficult to deny the necessity of these efforts, even though they are flawed, especially when being in another part of the globe where you have seen the widespread effects on children in poverty, who instead of going to school are in the streets begging, working to sell items on the sides of the street, or other tasks to make some money. I have early childhood memories of being in the bazaars in Tehran with my grandma and having children trying to be very persuasive towards my grandma to let them carry the groceries she buys for a small fee, this of course being something she was use to and unfortunately the charitable giving of one person does not help the majority. But what if it does help just one? I didn’t understand why all these children were born into such misfortune and whenever I had any money on those trips I would always end up giving it away to children not much older or younger than me because even then I realized the extremity of the situation they were in and that it wasn’t their fault. It is heartbreaking witnessing such a concentration of people effected by an unfortunate circumstance that is beyond their control to alter, it changes you forever.
    That is why I don’t think any effort should be thrown out, however as Easterly mentioned there are a lot of good hearted people with good hearted money to give that are not doing the right thing with these resources. It is important that the efforts in sponsorship go towards sustainable solutions centered around education, community involvement, and an infrastructure that can provide the basic human necessities all humankind is entitled to.

    Reply
    1. Elizabeth Stromsness

      I know I need to give you specific comments back, but all I want to do is say, “Preach, sister, preach!” Yes, let’s make aid and development work as absolutely as best we can let’s always be refining, critiquing, making more excellent, cutting away harmful bits, and feeding that which is effective, but we cannot just throw it out.

      For all its flaws, child sponsorship (and aid in general), has given hungry people foot, sick people medicine, and tried to help people break out of poverty. Have we figured it out yet? No. Have we realized that the “we” who need to be figuring it out may be an entirely different “we” than we though? Alright.

      But that does not mean we don’t keep pressing forward, running hard, working hard, and trying to do good well in the world as citizens of earth and to my mind, children of God.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *