The following two thinkers argue that aid can work, but it needs to be better targeted in order to be effective. This is really a return to ‘neo-modernisation theory’.
Paul Collier (2008)
Collier’s analysis of aid suggests that aid is merely a ‘holding operation preventing things from falling apart’. However, he does argue that without aid, the countries of the bottom billion would have become even poorer than they are today.
However, Collier’s evidence also indicates that the more aid is increased, the less is the return on economic growth. Collier argues that aid is often rendered ineffective by two obstacles, or traps in some recipient countries:
- The conflict trap – too many countries receiving foreign aid are engaged in expensive civil wars or military conflicts with their neighbours.
- The bad governance trap – Collier highlights the problem of kleptocracies – the corrupt elites which run many developing societies. The commission for Africa estimated that the amount of money stolen by corrupt elites and held in foreign bank accounts is equivalent to more than half of Africa’s debts.
Collier argues that these traps prevent aid from being spent effectively – because a significant proportion of aid money gets siphoned off into funding the military or simply into the pockets of rich elites.
Peter Riddell (2007)
Riddell (2007) argues that rich countries need to shoulder the blame for the failure of aid because:
- They often fail to distribute it to the countries that need it. For example, less than half of all aid is channelled to the poorest countries.
- There are too many donors and projects, which fail to co-operate with each other and undermines the effectiveness of aid.
- Aid agencies often fail to promote a sense of ownership of development projects among local people, and so the projects fail because the locals don’t support them.
Chapman et al (2016) – A Level Sociology Student Book Two [Fourth Edition] Collins.
Should Foreign Aid be Abandoned or Adapted? Huffington Post Article