Views And Reviews

Development aid: the way forward

BMJ 1994; 308 (Published 12 February 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;308:481
1. E A S Nelson

The British Overseas Development Administration aims to direct aid to the poorest people in the poorest countries, but it does not provide figures on how much aid is “poverty focused.” Aid is often equated with charity, but it is more about the self interest of the giver. It benefits the donors and their exporters more than the recipients. In 1986 an estimated $37bn (pounds sterling 24.6bn) of development aid was given by the rich industrialised donor countries to developing countries. But little monetary aid reaches the poor and aid is maldistributed: the richer 40% of the developing world's people get twice the aid of the poorer 40%. Almost half of America's aid over the past decade was for Egypt and Israel. Nearly half of all aid is tied to the purchase of goods and services from the donor country. Development aid has mainly been directed to developing infrastructure - dams, roads, airports, large scale agricultural schemes, universities, and hospitals. Although some projects were successful, many were not, and debt has accumulated - rich countries now receive over$21bn (pounds sterling 14bn) annually from poor countries. Structural adjustment programmes, which are now imposed on developing countries to recover this debt, have had adverse social and medical consequences.

Donors may contend that they are now moving …

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