Faith in Books: Dead Aid

Dead Aid: Why Aid is not working and how there is a better way for Africa

By Dambisa Moyo

In the last fifty years, over $1 Trillion in developmentally-related aid has been sent to Africa. Has it helped? No. In fact, Africa, with a few exceptions, is worse off today than fifty years ago. Moyo, a native African and an economist, outlines the reasons why and offers some very viable alternatives. The first is: no more aid.

Aid not only is not going to the poor but the strings attached and the dependency it creates has brought down Africa as a whole in the economic sector. Moyo gives a complete understanding of what kinds of aid Africa has received and why each one has been detrimental to the future of her continent. She then follows by outlining what kinds of economic innovation is needed for the health of Africa.

Here is an example from my own denomination: we have been instrumental in raising money to provide free mosquito nets to people in Africa. Sounds good, right? Yet, what about the mosquito net maker in Africa? When the country becomes flooded with these free nets, he and his 100+ workers are out of jobs. Also, when these free nets become worn or need to be replaced, who will have the means and skills to repair or replace them? We Westerners think we have done a good term in saving lives but the people who depend on mosquito net production will be at a loss for years to come.

Moyo really made me think about what aid means and how others can become dependent on it. If your adult child is dependent on you to provide money for gas, food or other living expenses, will he or she ever make the effort to pull themselves out of their dependency? What happens when you are no longer able to support them? Is it not better to do something to help them become financially independent now rather than just pay their bills for them? Africa is the same way.

In my faith, I am often asked for handouts to help people in emergency situations. Churches often do things to help their communities. If you are part of a church, you know what I am talking about. But what if churches instead found ways to work with the community rather than just hand out stuff for free. Would it not be better to help the guy to fish rather than give him a free fish dinner?

I would recommend this book if you understand economics. I confess that I skimmed most of it. The section on helping with local village capital seemed like somewhere I may personally be able to help. I also would like to know where my denomination is purchasing all those free nets!

Happy reading!


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