Waylaid Dialectic

September 16, 2011

Aid-Dependency Dependency

Filed under: Aid — terence @ 4:42 am

Reading Jonathan Glennie can be interesting but too often it’s an experience not unlike being hit on both sides of your head, at the same time. Here he is on aid dependency:

ActionAid has published a report celebrating the fact that poor countries are relying less and less on aid. The number of low income countries (LICs) receiving aid equivalent to 30% of government expenditure or more has reduced from 42 to 30 in the past decade.

In Zambia, for instance, aid has fallen from 84% of government expenditure to just 44%. That doesn’t mean Zambia is receiving less aid in absolute terms – it means more money is coming in from elsewhere, making aid a less important part of the mix. In fact, ActionAid notes the apparent paradox that while aid giving has increased globally, aid dependence has reduced because of strong economic growth.


In pointing out that high levels of aid for long periods of time can be anti-developmental, hindering rather than helping countries reduce poverty, ActionAid’s third Real Aid report is simply conveying to a western audience what political and civil society leaders have long been saying in poor countries.

Surely, if high levels of aid were anti-developmental, and if aid dependence were really a real issue, that last thing we’d expect to see is a bunch of poor countries growing strongly and reducing their dependence on aid at the same time aid itself is increasing?

FWIW – and I haven’t read the report – I wonder whether dependence on aid to fund social services is actually decreasing across the board in developing countries as rapidly as the aid/GDP ratio would suggest…

Also in the Guardian and well worth reading Madeline Bunting on the West’s role in Somalia’s tragedy.


1 Comment

  1. I struggled a bit as well with how the math used actually mead dependence on foreign aid. It seems like it is pretty hard to prove without looking at budgets a bit closer.

    Comment by Tom Murphy (@viewfromthecave) — September 16, 2011 @ 10:04 pm

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