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February, 22nd 2009

Interesting read

– Liz Mair

A few years ago, when I was still living in the UK, the subject of foreign aid to Africa was a particularly hot topic.  The Jubilee Debt Campaign/Jubilee 2000 (often associated with the "Drop The Debt" slogan) was attracting plenty of attention, as was the Commission for Africa, established in 2004, whose report, issued in March 2005, called on the developed world to "increase andimprove its aid" to the continent. Specifically, the Commission called for an additional $25 billion a year in aid to be provided to Africa by 2010, a recommendation that was met with some praise, and also some controversy.

Even though it feels like heavy focus on aid to Africa has diminished since the middle of th decade (and since I moved back to the US, where it has always seemed like less of a hot topic than it has been in Britain), it's fair to say the subject remains one that inspires strong emotions and is steeped in a fair amount of controversy, as is evidenced by this item in this weekend's New York Times Magazine: The Anti-Bono.[intro]

The "Anti-Bono" is Dambisa Moyo, a Zambian who has written a book entitled Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa.  In it, she argues that aid to Africa should in fact be stopped: A pretty controversial idea that I suspect will ruffle a few feathers when the book is, in fact, released (this St. Patrick's Day, if you were wondering). 

Whether or not you're instinctively inclined to agree with her thesis (I can easily see my readers' thoughts on this cutting both ways), I'd urge you to read the interview with her.  It's fascinating, if brief.  Oh, and in it, she underlines the benefits of donating through Kiva.org, an organization that I've always felt does tremendous work in terms of providing funding to entrepreneurs in Africa and other parts of the third world, in a direct, person-to-person and transparent way.

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