I'm a big fan of books, and related to this blog, in particular books on intentional development and law work. Here in Uganda, in one of the better foreign-friendly bookstores, I see an abundance of aid-related books, focusing on many different topics. One thing that surprises me is the number of books on aid in general, trying to answer the question of whether international aid works.
- Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa, Dambisa Moyo (2009)- aid is a failure and is bad, and is in fact Africa's reason for decent into under-development. But reviews are quick to point out the author's simplistic arguments and non-academic cynicism about aid to Africa.
- The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good, William Easterly (2006)- Western aid donor countries have failed because, like the colonialists of the past, they assumes they know what is best for everyone. Without participation from the poor whom aid is trying to serve, the causes of poverty are never addressed.
- The Aid Trap: Hard Truths About Ending Poverty, R. Glenn Hubbard (2006) - Not surprisingly, these authors, being from the Columbia Business School, make the case that current foreign aid and Third World projects are not working because the general strategy for aid creates a charity trap, instead of promoting real growth through cultivating a functioning business sector.
- Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism, Ha-Joon Chang (2007)- An effective critic of globalization and a protectionist on the side of the free-trade debate, the author considers the first world to be bad Samaritans because they had used the same unfair protectionist approaches to improve their economies and now are in fact advocating for free market and free trade to the poor countries in order to capture larger shares of the latter's markets and to pre-empt the emergence of possible competitors.
- Aid and Influence: Do Donors Help or Hinder?, Stephen Browne (2006) - Examining bilateral donors, the author concludes that on balance, aid seems to work, BUT there is at the same time so much aid that is seemingly ineffective (mainly because of inefficiencies of major donor governments).There needs to be more coordination of bilateral aid, possibly through multilateral organizations. For more more details, read this review by Roger Riddeil (another aid author, see below)
- Does Foreign Aid Really Work?, Roger C. Riddell (2008) - I'm personally a big fan of Riddell's previous books, and his current book does not disappoint as one of the most comprehensive, scholarly and objective on the subject. He undertook a massive literature review of aid (although some have criticized that they are mainly inherently biased donor reports), which, combined with his own long personal experience as a practitioner, concluded with something that sounds like 'yes, aid is working, but not as well as it should'.
- Foreign Aid: Diplomacy, Development, Domestic Politics, Carol Lancaster (2006) - looking at bilateral aid from both a seasoned practitioner and academic point of view, this former USAID administrator looks at the motivations behind aid in the biggest donors- United States, Japan, France, and Germany, and Denmark. She shows that bilateral aid is neither purely a tool of diplomacy or altruism towards developing countries, but it is really used for a combination of reasons. From this point of view, aid then makes sense, because it at least fulfills most of these goals of the donor countries.