Thursday, 9 January 2014

The international aid dilemma

Last Saturday, Ian Birrell in The Independent asked (about Paul Kagame of Uganda) why we in the West "continue to sup with this devil". The answer is that, as Malcolm Bruce, the chair of the Commons International Development Committee put it in November 2012, when questioning Justine Greening over a decision to suspend UK aid, "the dilemma in Rwanda is that it is absolutely fantastic at delivering poverty reduction with the development assistance given to it - probably the best in the world, as Andrew Mitchell [the International Development minister before Ms Greening] said".

This is the question that haunts the civil servants in the IDO section of the Foreign Office. They know that no matter how hard they try, some of the aid they distribute sticks to the fingers of those in power in their target communities. Therefore, they will tend to cherish those nations where virtually 100% of UK aid ends up where it is most needed. But what if the former is governed by a model democracy, and the latter is in the charge of a latter-day Stalin?

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