Billions in international aid wasted, but it makes you feel better to give!

No surprise here. Tossing money in the direction of some African countries led to little or no improvements, as funding was routed from “worthy, important” causes to expenditures by corrupt government officials that will never be tracked down.

Hat tip to Ed Morrissey at Hot Air, who points us to a Washington Post piece by Maria Cheng in London.

For years, the international community has forked over billions in health aid, believing the donations supplemented health budgets in poor countries. It now turns out development money prompted some governments to spend on entirely different things, which cannot be tracked. The research was published Friday in the medical journal Lancet.

No kidding? Is this really news to Cheng at the Post?

“We don’t know what countries are doing with their own money once the donor money comes in,” said Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington and one of the paper’s authors. Murray said health aid saves millions of lives, but governments need to be more transparent about what they’re spending on.

The research raises questions about whether international aid is sometimes detrimental. Previous studies have found pricey United Nations health initiatives haven’t paid off and occasionally hurt health systems. Experts estimate about half of international health aid can’t be traced in the budgets of receiving countries.

Morrissey has some good comments, so go read his post and the original article. Summing up…

If we really want to solve the problem of poverty and illness in Africa, we need to demand political reform.  Everything else is a band-aid, and  not the kind of Band Aid that means aging rockers taking to the stage on G-20 conferences.

It certainly does make people feel better to give to worthy causes. In the United States, we seem to have very good transparency when it comes to charities and how they perform. Unfortunately, funding heading out of the country is frequently diverted to build, oh let’s say, marble palaces as an example.

Do we give $100 with the understanding more than half of that money will be sucked up by corrupt generals, presidents and other government officials, or do we demand a better result? I guess that’s for the individual donor to decide. Some help is getting through, maybe it’s just the cost of helping others?

1 reply
  1. Erik Blazynski
    Erik Blazynski says:

    Kinda like the Bush-Clinton Haiti fund (which doesn't really exist, they just funnel the money to their respective foundations). They raise $11 million and hand out $3 million while people die every day and live in tents made out of sheets. What are they waiting for?

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