Foreign Aid – or Injury?

Sunday, July 18, 2021
First Aired: 
Sunday, December 16, 2018

What Is It

Many of us might think that developed nations should lead the effort to end global poverty. But decades of foreign aid—from governments and non-governmental organizations—have failed to produce sustainable growth in the developing world. How can we empower local actors to become self-sufficient rather than dependent on foreign aid? Is there a way to help those in the developing world without inadvertently giving more power to corrupt dictators? Do developed nations have an obligation to fight global poverty the right way? Debra and Ken enlist the aid of Dartmouth economist John Welborn.

Comments (4)


Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Friday, December 14, 2018 -- 11:38 AM

Seems to me that programs

Seems to me that programs which offered something other than money have been tried: my brother served in the Peace Corps. There was also something called VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America). I believe there have been other such mentorship-related efforts over the years, but those mentioned are the only ones which readily come to mind. Now, I don't know much about the success/failure rates of these past (and/or present) programs, nor do I know cost/benefit ratios. However, if we don't want to throw too much money to the wind, we might try to figure out how to design and/or improve the delivery of hands-on assistance---if anyone even wants to work in third-world, poverty-stricken areas. Maybe that's why such helping-hand assistance fell out of favor? If such is the case, I have no other suggestions.

Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Friday, June 4, 2021 -- 6:50 AM

Many things have happened

Many things have happened since 2018. As to the efficacy of foreign aid, I see little evidence. World population is growing, unsustainably, seems to me. An average person with an ounce of common sense knows that populations and densities are not infinitely supportable on this little blue planet. If over-crowding on land is not sutticiently indicative of this, one need only look at the non-biodegradable trash ending up in the seas....the amount of sea life lost because of said trash and oxygen depletion found in dead zones. Foreign aid is not helping. If anything,, it is, as this post suggests, making matters worse. No one needs a Phd in any related science to see this does not end well.

Nations are, more and more, adopting an 'us first' posture. Who can blame them? Scholars and others, advocating for global community and solidarity, must feel as though they are spitting into the wind. The gale is deafening.

Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Saturday, July 17, 2021 -- 6:10 AM

Hope you have something new

Hope you have something new to offer, this year? The formulary is diminishing. The vacuum bag, getting cold.

Tim Smith's picture

Tim Smith

Wednesday, July 21, 2021 -- 8:34 AM

I would add Education to the

I would add Education to the Trade/Not Aid, Carbon Tax, and Block-Chain triumvirate. The most significant resources of developing nations are intellectual. Intelligence is relative to the social and environmental contexts in which it thrives. Education allows that intelligence to express value which builds prosperity.

The failures of Foreign Aid are overstated. The late Hans Rosling’s book “Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think” has turned me from this pessimism. Mosquito nets have become plastic fodder. Perhaps we need to charge minimal amounts instead of freely distributing these items. An economy can not easily be dictated where values differ.

Foreign Aid needs to allow people to think for themselves, which brings up the case of China. That is a putrid exemplar for growth. Where is the environmental goodness there? Where are the human rights? Competition and deregulation did not foster the transition as much as the sharing/taking of intellectual property (IP.) It will be a Sinophobic century undoubtedly but not a glorious one. They have their own Lives Matter issues and need for reforms.

The climate change bullet is too significant not to take a first and foremost place in the dispensing of Aid (Education could share primogeniture only to spread the learning.)

Debra and Ken did not explore the blockchain angle. John Wellborn needs to be asked back to explicate this in isolation. Blockchain has IP goodness, climate change badness (though there are energy-saving methods), and multicultural seedings that will strike back at the missteps of past Aid giving and development projects. Let’s hear John out on that.