The Development of Aid
Aid to developing countries started well before World War II, but was undertaken as an ad hoc activity or was delivered by private organizations. This changed after the War. In his Inaugural Address in 1949, the American President, Harry Truman, announced a “bold new programme for making the benefits of our scientific advances and industrial progress available for the improvement and growth of underdeveloped nations” (the so-called “Point IV” Plan). At that time it was thought that this support would be needed only for a limited number of years, comparable to the Marshall Plan assistance to Europe. But reality proved to be different: providing aid was a very long-term affair.
Since the Fifties, the aid provided has changed at different occasions. In the beginning, aid concentrated on constructing infrastructure, such as roads, railways, dams, and harbours, in order to promote industrial development. In the Sixties, aid to agriculture was added, and in the Seventies aid to social sectors (Basic Needs) was also provided. The Eighties brought worldwide debt problems. Major donors applied structural adjustment policies; some called this the lost decade (década perdida). The Nineties saw the arrival of the first environmental considerations, and asked for attention for the role of women and good governance. The form of aid changed from projects to programmes and budget support.
Describing the different aid forms of the last 65 years and analysing why aid changed from time to time are the subjects of this book. Professionals and students in the area of international cooperation will benefit from studying this history, as, at this moment, old concepts are reappearing or applied by new donors like China. Is the pendulum really swinging back, as Louis Emmerij at one point suggested?
Gerard Van Bilzen, born in 1951 in Weert, the Netherlands, studied Industrial Engineering at the Eindhoven University of Technology. He started his career in Peru in a joint research project, involving the Dutch Universities of Tilburg and Eindhoven and the Universidad Católica in Lima. From there, he moved to the Delft University of Technology, where he was Director of the Centre for Appropriate Technology. Finally, he moved in 1983 to the Directorate General for International Cooperation of the European Commission, where he was Desk Officer for Zambia, Deputy Head of the Financial Unit of the European Development Fund and Head of the Training Unit. He retired in 2011.
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