“Does aid do more harm than good?” – The Munk Debate
Last Monday June 1, at Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum, Dambisa Moyo and Hernando De Soto, both scholars and experts in the economics of developing nations, argued that aid hurts more than it helps. The contrary position was taken by Stephen Lewis, former UN special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, and Paul Collier, professor of economics at Oxford and author of “The Bottom Billion”. Tune in and turn on. Debate starts at 10:00 or so.
Watch, and we can weigh in. In brief, though I can understand the imperative, and do not disagree with the thesis that aid as it is currently administered is a policy failure, I think the greatest failing is not in the idea of distributing wealth from richer countries to poorer ones, but in how it has been done. Particularly, how distanced the intention is from proven, measurable effect. I am not certain that “turning the taps off” is the best way to improve the lives of people who are suffering now, but must admit my bias as a doctor whose unit of work is the individual, because if that tough decision means one person dies, or one family, even if it improves the lives of someone two generations on, I would only imagine how it could be done differently without that sacrifice.
And, as much as the aid may be administered poorly, as much as it may be perpetuating power differentials in the very country it is intending to help, I feel that the exercise of giving, of Canadians, or Australians, or you, or me, is a worthwhile one, congruent with the best part of a human being, and practice makes practiced and perhaps the best solution might be to continue, but to be more mindful of routes that truly improve the lives of other people rather than ones that create a whole new set of problems. The empiricist in me, the medical editor, believes that we just need to start asking the right questions about what to measure, then study the effect.
Back to you.
If you feel like continuing the discussion, do so underneath, or over on…sorry…facebook.