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Monthly Archives: March 2009

ONE Responds to Bono vs. Moyo, Round Two

By Edith Jibunoh, Africa Outreach Manager at ONE

At ONE, we agree a vigorous public debate is needed on how best to combat extreme poverty in Africa, but your post suggesting ONE is trying to “discredit” and “misrepresent” Ms. Moyo is untrue and not particularly constructive. As anyone who goes to our website site can see, we aren’t trying to discredit her, we are responding, substantively, to her arguments. You suggest we aren’t addressing the…

Posted in Aid debates, Badvocacy and celebs | 13 Comments

Bono vs. Moyo, Round Two

Last week, ONE, the advocacy organization founded by Bono, apparently sent out an email to some of the Africans in their address book. The subject: Dambisa Moyo’s new book Dead Aid, recently released in the US. The plan: to persuade some high profile Africans to provide quotes in support of ONE’s position that Moyo’s ideas are dangerously mistaken.

The vigorous and public debate that has greeted the release of Dead Aid is a good…

Posted in Badvocacy and celebs | Tagged , , | 16 Comments

The Unbearable Lightness of Summits

“International action” is something that everyone wants to resolve any major global problem. How well does it work in practice?

We gleaned one small insight from Chris Giles’ brilliant article in the FT on the international finance ministers’ get together in advance of the April G 20 summit. The resulting joint communiqué was a meaningless piece of diplomatic doublespeak, he said, which failed the “five tests of relevance and importance.”

These included the rigorous…

Posted in In the news | 3 Comments

Liberty Land Amusement Park


Individual liberty is a precise concept and a powerful ideal. It has an enormous moral appeal – “all men are created equal, and are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Jefferson wrote these words even though there was only liberty for propertied white males at the time in the US, but these words would serve as a beacon through American history,…

Posted in Big ideas, Economics principles | 8 Comments

Did U2 Have Africa Celebrate U2?


Not sure what to make of this, so I just state the facts: an African-American record producer arranged to have well-known African singers do U2 songs for this album. U2 obviously had to sign off on an album in which Africa thanks U2 with U2 songs, due to copyright laws, and in fact the producer thanks U2 band members.

One African who is not celebrating U2 these days is Dambisa Moyo (who is

Posted in Badvocacy and celebs | Tagged , | 18 Comments

Response to Owen Barder on UK Budget Support

Owen, thanks for responding to our piece. Open debate is an important way to clarify issues and hold us all accountable for the integrity of our intellectual positions.

First off, you criticize us for getting our facts wrong on Ethiopia’s elections. We said:

Ethiopia’s autocratic government, which is inexplicably the largest recipient of UK budget support in Africa, won 99% of the vote in the last ‘election’.

And you say:

Nice point, except: a. according

Posted in Aid policies and approaches, Democracy and freedom | 17 Comments

Response to “Why Does British Aid Favor Poor Governments over Poor People”?

By Owen Barder, the Addis Ababa-based director of, an initiative to accelerate poverty reduction by making aid more transparent. Aidinfo is part of Development Initiatives, a UK-based development consultancy.

Bill Easterly and Laura Freschi at Aid Watch lay in to British Government aid for giving financial support directly to governments:

In 2007, the UK gave 20 percent of their total bilateral ODA in the form of budget support to 13 countries: Tanzania, Ethiopia,

Posted in Aid policies and approaches, Democracy and freedom, Meta | Tagged , | 9 Comments

Guest bloggers with different points of view

Aid Watch will invite guest bloggers from time to time to represent a variety of points of view about aid. Today, we host Owen Barder, who is the Addis Ababa-based director of, an initiative to accelerate poverty reduction by making aid more transparent. Aidinfo is part of Development Initiatives, a UK-based development consultancy. Owen disagreed strongly with our post last Friday on British aid favoring bad governments through direct budget support.

Posted in Meta | Comments Off

Why Does British Foreign Aid Prefer Poor Governments Over Poor People?

European donors are moving towards increasing direct budget support to governments of aid-receiving countries. Leading the charge is the UK, which gives the largest percentage of direct budget support of any bilateral or multilateral donor (although the World Bank, the European Commission, the US and France also give substantial budget support).

Giving cash directly to host country governments for use in the general budget for public spending has a number of

Posted in Aid policies and approaches, Democracy and freedom | Tagged | 13 Comments

“If You Don’t Trust People You Know, It’s Over!”

It would be so much easier for economists and aid workers to sidestep discussions of the role of culture in economic development. It’s so hard to quantify, so slippery to define, and nearly impossible to graph. In this clip from the Development Research Institute’s recent conference, NYU Professor Leonard Wantchekon talks about a cultural challenge to development in the country where he grew up, Benin.

Leonard Wantchekon on the Lack of Intra-Community Trust in Benin

Posted in Aid policies and approaches | 5 Comments