Dysfunctional Aid

This week, there has been some hoopla about a new book called "Dead Aid," written by a female Zambian economist who argues that global development aid is bad for Africa. I can't wait to read it, but a critique of the book that I read yesterday rightly warns against the world turning it's back on Africa completely.

In just recent weeks I have personally been talking to friends about our global development aid system as "completely dysfunctional." While I still believe that we all have a responsibility to each other's well-being on this planet, I can also say without doubt that the charity-dependent systems we currently use to try and help the world's poorest countries simply are not helping in ways that lay stable foundations for sustainable development. On the contrary - our global development aid systems introduce so many conflicting distortions into what would be Africa's natural economic development process, that almost no healthy economic development can happen naturally at all.

I am not saying we should turn our backs and not help others in need, or that there is never a role for charity in helping others. What I am saying is that we need to seriously rethink and revamp how we conceptualize helping others in countries far from home, taking some of the world's current realities, lessons learned from the past 50 years of failure, and new opportunities for global development (especially technology) into account.

There are countless stories floating around in my head - from my own career experiences and stories shared by others I know - that illustrate the kinds of things that consistently seem to go awry with charity aid flows. Much of it simply does not arrive to the people it's intended to help; alot that does arrive ends up having destructive consequences on society. As I look at that same landscape of stories, I also see countless sparkles of hope and new possibilities.

I've been planning to start writing some of those stories down, if for no other reason than to help me make sense out of it all. I'm going to start posting them here later this week.