Six Africans have written to the Daily Telegraph, suggesting that the UK curtail its aid to the continent. Excited, it would seem, by the scale of this data set, someone at AidWatch has linked to the letter. It’s not clear just who linked to it, or whether they agree with the writers’ sentiments or not, but Bill Easterly pops up in the comments thread in a way that suggests he thinks the letter is more right than wrong.
There is, of course, a somewhat better (albeit not perfect) data set for gauging Africans’ opinions on aid: this is the Afrobarometer survey.
Q98D.- In your opinion, how much do each of the following do to help your country, or haven?t you heard enough to say?. [Read out options]. Other international donors and NGOs (apart from the United Nations).
* (Q98D) Q98d. How much help country: international donors/NGOs
o -4 Not asked
o -1 Missing
o 0 Do nothing, no help
o 1 Help a little bit
o 2 Help somewhat
o 3 Help a lot
o 9 Don´t know
And the results from the most recent round of the survey?
In total, for the countries surveyed:
|Do nothing, no help||4.90%|
|Help a little bit||17.60%|
|Help a lot||44.90%|
I’ve uploaded by country answers to the questions here [pdf]
To me at least, even taking account the survey limitations, the degree of support for NGOs and Donors suggests that the impact of aid on Africa is far from negative. Not perfect evidence – but certainly better than a letter written by six people.