Here’s a great article for the development layperson that provides helpful explanation on the damages and unsustainabilities of some development aid, including gifts in kind. The article also speaks to the issue of NGOs providing their low “overhead” percentages as a means to win over donors, but how that doesn’t mean they’re the best option to go with. The article is lengthy, but super informative and easy to read. Here’s a quote:
“According to Ben Ramalingam’s Aid on the Edge of Chaos, international development is … an invasive species. Why [a Kenyan village] doesn’t have a vaccination clinic, why Kenyan schoolkids can’t read, it’s a combination of culture, politics, history, laws, infrastructure, individuals—all of a society’s component parts, their harmony and their discord, working as one organism. Introducing something foreign into that system—millions in donor cash, dozens of trained personnel and equipment, U.N. Land Rovers—causes it to adapt in ways you can’t predict.”
Disclaimer: this article contains a few expletives from the feisty author.
Follow-up: After reading the article, head over to our next post about providing prosthetic limbs in Sudan and share your thoughts!