About Aid Watch
The Aid Watch blog is a project of New York University's Development Research Institute (DRI). This blog is principally written by William Easterly, author of "The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists' Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics" and "The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good," and Professor of Economics at NYU. It is co-written by Laura Freschi and by occasional guest bloggers. Our work is based on the idea that more aid will reach the poor the more people are watching aid.
"Conscience is the inner voice that warns us somebody may be looking." - H.L. Mencken
- Rukmini on Aid Watch blog ends; New work on development begins : This has been a valuable resource for me and I’m sorry to see it...
- Jesse on From Hell to Prosperity: I would like to see this graph with a comparative one which shows the number of people in each religion...
- Ellie on Aid Watch blog ends; New work on development begins : Sad to see you go, but I certainly respect the decision. Hope it is...
- Vivek Nemana on From Hell to Prosperity: Jeff, Well, the billionaire effect might explain a disproportionately high mean income, but...
- M on Aid Watch blog ends; New work on development begins : I agree that Bill and Laura should think about how they can get their message...
- Mr. Econotarian on Are Lax US Gun Laws Spilling Violence into Mexico? : The paper says: “DHS data gives the number of illegal...
Bill Easterly tweets
- So sorry to hear about Turkey violence; Sympathy to the victims and to the cause of democracy. http://t.co/q3aMGKqJnt 07:01:19 PM June 11, 2013 from bitly ReplyRetweetFavorite
- I'm a little unclear on how they established causality from the Chicago mayor to the murder rate http://t.co/lASzN2F7G8 06:12:10 PM June 11, 2013 from bitly ReplyRetweetFavorite
- The Natural Effort to Better One’s Conditions - can't miss event tomorrow http://t.co/gnjUehxZIk 09:28:43 PM June 10, 2013 from bitly ReplyRetweetFavorite
- Hello, our government, this is a good moment to explain just what democratic checks and balances do now constrain the NSA. 05:12:56 PM June 10, 2013 from web ReplyRetweetFavorite
Aid Watch tweets
- Whoa. "Is this the most beautiful excel spreadsheet in history?" http://t.co/EEWpAQQHIG via @cblatts 09:10:05 PM June 11, 2013 from Buffer ReplyRetweetFavorite
- "The drug war in Mexico has claimed twice as many lives than the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan" http://t.co/5PBheCCpvA via @Guardian 08:50:13 PM June 11, 2013 from Buffer ReplyRetweetFavorite
- Some harsh, and debatable, statements: "Africa's Lesson in Self-Reliance" http://t.co/L0cKQn0Cmh via @nytimes 08:21:03 PM June 11, 2013 from Buffer ReplyRetweetFavorite
- Every rose has its thorn. Some roses also have toxic chemicals and sexual abuse. http://t.co/NBMk2gm2GD via @TheHumanosphere 01:03:10 PM June 11, 2013 from Buffer ReplyRetweetFavorite
Category Archives: Accountability and transparency
By Claudia Williamson, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Development Research Institute
Rhetoric on “aid effectiveness” keeps escalating, is there anything to show for it?
The past (almost) two years, Bill and I have been collecting data, combing through that data, and refining the numbers to ‘grade’ aid agencies and assess overall trends in aid practices. We waited until our paper passed peer review to release our findings. Rhetoric versus Reality: The Best and Worst of Aid Agency…
Another humanitarian hero has tumbled off his pedestal.
It remains to be seen whether Greg Mortenson, author of the best-selling “Three Cups of Tea,” will be able to avert a total reputation meltdown. But last Sunday’s 60 Minutes broadcast and a thorough exposé by Jon Krakauer provide convincing evidence for some serious allegations…
Remember back in February when World Vision’s proud announcement that they were sending abroad 100,000 Super Bowl champion T-shirts emblazoned with the name of the losing team, as they have for the last 15 years, provoked aid blogger ire? We’ve been following the controversy—and occasionally piling on joining in—and here’s the latest.
In an email to Aid Watch, World Vision disclosed that total transport and administrative cost per T-shirt…
by Chris Coyne, F.A. Harper Professor of Economics at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University
Investors in the Kwality Kites Corporation gather to listen to the CEO’s ‘year in review’ presentation.
“In 2010,” begins the CEO, “we coordinated plans to deliver kites while supporting sustainable operations”
An investor raises her hand: “Can you tell us what you mean by ‘coordinated plans’ and ‘sustainable operations’ and what they have to do with…
by Ed Carr, Associate Professor in the Department of Geography at the University of South Carolina
A growing volume of critical writing on the Millennium Villages project (MVP) includes blog posts, journalistic pieces, scholarly works, and, recently, one partial social impact study. Nearly all point to project outcomes that could have been avoided had the project seriously engaged with the long history of field-based experiences in development.
Here, I will focus on just…
After all the blogging we’ve done on how hard it is to find complete and accurate information (as opposed to “success stories”) on USAID’s website, I think we’d be remiss not to mention a new US government site launched just before the holidays.
The Foreign Assistance Dashboard is the first version of a site that will someday allow users to create charts and tables showing where and how well US aid funds have been…
I was really pleased recently to get a link to a blog, which from the link description strongly agreed with me on my controversial Lennon vs. Bono piece in the Washington Post, also featured on Aid Watch.
I mean really pleased — my roster of supporters just doubled! I dropped the neighbor’s baby that I was holding and rushed over to my computer to click on the link, waiting with growing excitement as…
Nick Kristof has one answer: Focus on the individuals in the story, leaving the aid bureaucracies just outside the frame. Make readers care about places and people they will probably never see by bringing them stories of hope and inspiration: the American woman who leaves behind her family to help rape survivors in the Congo; the orphan boy in Zimbabwe who dreams of and gets a bicycle.
Philip Gourevitch, writing in the New Yorker this week, has another:
…Surely at least we who work in journalism can do a public service by treating humanitarianism the same way we treat other powerful public interests that shape our world…Why should our coverage of them look so much like their own self-representation in fund-raising appeals? Why should we (as many photojournalists and print reporters do) work for humanitarian agencies between journalism jobs, helping them with their official reports and institutional appeals, in a way that we would never consider doing for corporations, political parties, or government agencies? Why should we not regard them as interested parties in the public realms in which they operate, as giant bureaucracies, as public trusts, with long records of getting it wrong with catastrophic consequences, as well as getting it right?
…[H]umanitarianism is an industry. So we should examine it and hold it to account as such. To treat humanitarian or human-rights organizations with automatic deference, as if they were disinterested higher authorities rather than activists and lobbyists with political and institutional interests and biases, and with uneven histories of reliability or success, is to do ourselves, and them, a disservice. That does not mean—as the many books I reviewed, and many more still, make clear—taking a hostile stance toward N.G.O.s. It simply means not accepting their hostility to critical scrutiny. It means not letting them claim to do our work for us. It means insisting on asking the questions for which they may have no good answers.
UPDATE 10/12 1PM: we have a winner! (see end of post)
UPDATE: No winnners yet, see end of post.
Following last Friday’s post on the New Yorker profile of Justin Lin, I had this email exchange with the World Bank media officer David Theis, who kindly responded promptly to my inquiries.
Original Inquiry Fri, Oct 8, 2010 at 11:30 AM:
Media Chief, World Bank
Dear Mr. Theis, As I am sure you
by Till Bruckner, PhD candidate at the University of Bristol and former Transparency International Georgia aid monitoring coordinator.
Sixteen months after I first filed a Freedom of Information Act request with USAID for the budgets of American-financed NGO projects in Georgia, I have reached the end of the road. Rejecting my appeal, USAID has confirmed that it continues to regard NGO project budgets as “privileged or confidential” information, and will not release…