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Some cite good news on aid

A paper forthcoming in the Journal of Economic Literature states:

“There are well known and striking donor success stories, like the elimination of smallpox, the near-eradication of river blindness and Guinea worm, the spread of oral rehydration therapy for treating infant diarrheal diseases, DDT campaigns against malarial mosquitoes (although later halted for environmental reasons), and the success of WHO vaccination programs against measles and other childhood diseases. The aid campaign against diseases in Africa … is likely the single biggest success story in the history of aid to Africa…”

“The well-known Kremer and Miguel paper showed a strong effect of deworming on worm infection rates in a district in Kenya, which reflected not only direct effects on children receiving the drugs but also surprisingly strong externalities to others in the same school or nearby schools.”

“Breastfeeding, immunization against diarrheal diseases, micronutrient supplementation and oral rehydration therapy (ORT) have all been found to work in randomized trails in the fight against diarrhea….Case studies suggest ORT is another health aid success story, accounting for a substantial drop in diarrheal mortality since 1980.”


Who is this wild-eyed aid optimist? Oops, it’s me.

The point is that even those of us labeled as “aid critics” do not believe aid has been a universal failure. If we give you aid agencies grief on failures, it is because we have seen some successes, and we would like to see more!

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  1. Anup wrote:

    Thanks for including some success stories.

    Working in the development domain, I was quickly becoming unpopular for advertising your blog. While your criticism is a necessary balance to the overwhelmingly positive rhetoric in our circles, some folks simply don’t want to recognize the failures of our collective efforts. A feeling that “I’m doing something absolutely positive/honorable” drives many aid workers. Today’s post may help them swallow your overall message about the realities of the system. Keep it coming — and continue to think about how to get the pill to go down.

    Posted February 18, 2009 at 9:49 am | Permalink
  2. anon wrote:

    it’s a pity that Anup, like me, feels a need to remain anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2009 at 1:45 pm | Permalink
  3. Isis Avent wrote:

    Same here Anon :(

    Posted September 5, 2009 at 12:17 pm | Permalink
  • 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

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