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Monthly Archives: May 2009

Nation’s 12-year-olds protest Results-Based Management

mfdr3.jpg

Results-based management (RBM) is where you come up with indicators of results and try to get civil servants (national or international) to meet targets for these indicators. The emphasis on results would be welcome except for the ability of wily bureaucrats to manipulate the indicators in ways that do not improve performance. In development, RBM has already achieved results – another acronym to replace RBM: MfDR – Managing for Development Results.

The US already…

Posted in Aid policies and approaches | 11 Comments

Stop me before I Sachs again

Jeffrey Sachs strikes again.

I’m so sorry readers, I know this is getting really, really OLD. But Sachs unveils such a bizarre geographic theory of Africa’s poverty, with such misguided implications for aid policy, that I am forced to respond. I can’t help myself, the stakes are too high. Suggestions for corrective therapy would still be welcome.

At least now we have finally gotten away from personal attacks, so let me say…

Posted in Aid policies and approaches | 24 Comments

Stories from around the web

“US food aid is all in bags labelled ‘From the American People’….it might be less misleading if it were labelled ‘From the American People, mainly to the American People.’”

World Bank employees give up on their own bureaucracy, use Wikipedia to find World Bank reports.

The Economist profiles Jacqueline Novogratz, “‘The financial system is broken, yes, but so too is the aid system,’ so ‘a moment of great innovation’ could be at hand.”

Good Intentions

Posted in In the news | 1 Comment

It’s going so badly, let’s do more of the same!

Efforts to curb corruption in Afghanistan are failing, says a new USAID report. Based on dozens of interviews and a comprehensive review of existing studies and polls, the report describes the sources of corruption, which include the huge volume and variety of international aid pouring into Afghanistan, 30 years of conflict that have weakened state institutions and disrupted social relationships, and Afghanistan’s role in the illegal opium trade. Afghanistan is now the fifth most…

Posted in Aid policies and approaches | 5 Comments

Reader survey results: probabilities, halos, and leaders

What a relief to talk about something other than my distinguished colleague Prof. Sachs…. over to you, Dambisa Moyo!

Now back to real work: the reader survey generated a great response – thank you readers! It confirmed a well known psychology experiment, but also contained surprises I did not expect.

The question was which was more probable, (A) or (B)?

(A) a country succeeds at economic development, or

(B) a country succeeds at economic…

Posted in Cognitive biases, Economics principles | Tagged , | 9 Comments

Am I attacking Sachs too much?

Dear Readers,

Let me respond to those concerned about the tone and divisiveness of this debate (and a little bit about my levity).

In the Huffington Post, my column says (please read both Sachs’ and my column):

Jeffrey Sachs, the world’s leading apologist and fund-raiser for the aid establishment, has responded here with a ferocious personal attack on Moyo and myself, “Aid Ironies.”

Allow me to defend myself (I’ll let the formidable Moyo

Posted in Aid policies and approaches | 23 Comments

Sachs Ironies: Why critics are better for foreign aid than apologists

Official foreign aid agencies delivering aid to Africa are used to operating with nobody holding them accountable for aid dollars actually reaching poor people. Now that establishment is running scared with the emergence of independent African voices critical of aid, such as that of Dambisa Moyo.

See post from Huffington Post.

Posted in Aid policies and approaches | 5 Comments

Sachs attack! Help!

Jeff Sachs uncorks a personal attack on me, grossly distorts my position to make me look bad, and he definitely knows this from POSITIVE aid statements of mine that he has quoted in the past, wow this gets more fun every year!

Anybody have any inside contacts at Huffington Post to give me a chance to defend my lame self?

Posted in Meta | 17 Comments

Reader survey

Dear Readers, Can you indulge me with a little survey?

Please tell me which you think is more probable:

(A) a country succeeds at economic development, or

(B) a country succeeds at economic development with a wise and capable leadership.

Please answer ONLY whether you think (A) or (B) is more probable, with no elaboration, just post a comment on this post saying “(A)” or “(B).”

Thanks, Bill Easterly

Posted in Meta | 225 Comments

The Three Worlds of an Aid Worker in Lagos

by Jeffrey Barnes, veteran aid worker

I start my day in World One, the world of international flights, business class lounges, laptop computers, four star hotels and Internet. Although power in the country is expensive and infrequent, the hotel management has installed stand up air conditioners in all the public spaces, including the hallways, to ensure that the temperature is always low enough so that clients with three piece suits are comfortable. The hotel generator…

Posted in Field notes | Tagged , | 7 Comments