Problems, Promises, and Paradoxes of Aid: Africa’s Experience

This book is an anthology of essays contributing new scholarship to the contemporary discourse on the concept of aid. It provides an interdisciplinary investigation of the role of aid in African development, compiling the work of historians, political scientists, legal scholars, and economists to examine where aid has failed and to offer new perspectives on how aid can be made more effective.

Questions regarding the effectiveness of aid are addressed here using specific case studies. The question of ownership is examined in the context of two debates: 1) to what extent should aid be designed by the recipient country itself? and 2) should aid focus on “need” or “performance”? That is, should donors direct aid to the poorest countries, regardless of their policies and governance, or should aid “reward” countries for doing the right thing? The future of aid is also addressed: should aid continue to be a part of the development agenda for countries in sub-Saharan Africa? If so, how much and what type of aid is needed, and how it can be made most effective?

The major criticism against aid is that it cripples the recipient country’s economic growth by turning it into a passive receiver; in addition, it has been noted that aid is mostly supply-driven, depending upon donors rather than the actual needs of recipients. For this reason, aid may not meet the goals for which it was intended.

To meet the needs of the communities they want to help, donors should work through consultation and a measure of recipient ownership. Donors need to understand context, to protect human rights, and to be guided by principles of social and environmental justice. Other suggested strategies for making aid more effective include peer review; self-assessment; the empowerment of women; encouraging accountability; investing in agriculture; helping smallholder subsistence farmers; introducing ethical and professional standards for civil service; and raising the competence of civil servants.

This book is part of a series. View the full series, "Cornell Institute for African Development Series", here.

Muna Ndulo (DPhil, Oxford) is Professor of Law and Director of the Institute for African Development at Cornell University. He is also Honorary Professor of Law at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and Extraordinary Professor of Law at Free State University. He has extensive international and UN experience, and has served as a consultant for organizations including the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the Economic Commission for Africa, and the International Development Law Organization.

Nicolas van de Walle (PhD, Princeton University) is Maxwell M. Upson Professor in the Department of Government, Cornell University. He has published widely on democratization and foreign aid issues, with special focus on Africa. In addition, he has served as a consultant for international organizations including the World Bank, USAID, and UNDP.

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ISBN: 1-4438-6745-4

ISBN13: 978-1-4438-6745-0

Release Date: 30th October 2014

Pages: 395

Price: £52.99