August 18, 2009

Aid Gone Local

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:09 am by Editorial Team

Harper’s had a great snapshot of USAid which I read this morning that cited some ugly statistics on aid/development.  USAid used to be an organization that did developmental assistance in other countries.  However, under the Reagan and Bush administrations, many jobs were cut under USAid, forcing the agency to sell contracts to private firms for development projects.  It’s now reported that only 14% of USAid funds actually make it into the local economy.  Technical assistance contracts run as much as $1,000 a day — just one example of the money going to line the pockets of Americans, rather than the people it was intended to help.

This is a problem all over the international development spectrum — of actually getting money effectively into the local economy to promote development.  USAid has been failing, and many other large-scale government and economic interventions are also failing.  Proper aid development should occur primarily on the community level and in partnership with the local community, striving to achieve local solutions.  Large scale policy and economic measures are helpful, but not if there is no concurrent local action.

There’s gotta be some kind of bureaucratic efficiency coefficient.  I think it would apply to both government and business.  As an organization increases its size, it becomes more efficient to a point, but beyond that point, it succumbs to all kinds of problems of corruption, and ultimately, retreats back down the efficiency ladder.  It’s why I think corporations are evil.  Its why I’m cautious about government.

And as far as USAid is concerned, privatization was a bad idea.

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