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Aid to Africa: So Much To Do, So Little Done [Paperback]

Carol Lancaster
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

April 15 1999 Century Foundation Book
Why, despite decades of high levels of foreign aid, has development been so disappointing in most of Sub-Saharan Africa, leading to rising numbers of poor and fueling political instabilities? While not ignoring the culpability of Africans in these problems, Carol Lancaster finds that much of the responsibility is in the hands of the governments and international aid agencies that provide assistance to the region. The first examination of its kind, Aid to Africa investigates the impact of bureaucratic politics, special interest groups, and public opinion in aid-giving countries and agencies. She finds that aid agencies in Africa often misdiagnosed problems, had difficulty designing appropriate programs that addressed the local political environment, and failed to coordinate their efforts effectively.

This balanced but tough-minded analysis does not reject the potential usefulness of foreign aid but does offer recommendations for fundamental changes in how governments and multilateral aid agencies can operate more effectively.


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"Why," the senator asked, "with so much aid has there been so little development in sub-Saharan Africa?" Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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3.0 out of 5 stars Hit and Miss Nov. 22 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Like so many pieces of work about the effectiveness of aid, this piece by Lancaster has its strengths as well as its obvious blind spots. Lancaster does a relatively good job of analyzing the bureaucratic strengths and weaknesses of many of the larger national and multinational aid agencies. It is in this respect that the book shines. On the other hand, it is obvious that Lancaster is strongly wedded to neo-classical economic theory and this bias runs throughout the book and leads her to condemn many aid practices based almost solely on these fundamentalist beliefs. Even more damning, though, is her near absolute ignorance of the international economic and political realities that have destabilized Africa and that have been almost completely uncontrollable by the aid agencies that she so easily critiques. She even goes so far as to give her greatest praise to one of the few agencies that can be directly credited with much of the economic instability plaguing the continent, the World Bank. She is honest in her critique of USAID and DFID being partly handcuffed by their country's larger foreign policy goals, but fails to place blame at the feet of these agencies' mother nations for their roles in producing or at least aiding in the creation of political instability of the region. Still, with these very serious critiques aside, Lancaster does do a very good job in providing valuable organizational critiques of several very important aid agencies. In this respect, this is a valuable piece of scholarship. I just wish she had the ability to be more honest (as she is a former government employee and recipient of significant US government funding, it may not be realistic to expect this of her) or less blind.
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Amazon.com: 3.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hit and Miss Nov. 22 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Like so many pieces of work about the effectiveness of aid, this piece by Lancaster has its strengths as well as its obvious blind spots. Lancaster does a relatively good job of analyzing the bureaucratic strengths and weaknesses of many of the larger national and multinational aid agencies. It is in this respect that the book shines. On the other hand, it is obvious that Lancaster is strongly wedded to neo-classical economic theory and this bias runs throughout the book and leads her to condemn many aid practices based almost solely on these fundamentalist beliefs. Even more damning, though, is her near absolute ignorance of the international economic and political realities that have destabilized Africa and that have been almost completely uncontrollable by the aid agencies that she so easily critiques. She even goes so far as to give her greatest praise to one of the few agencies that can be directly credited with much of the economic instability plaguing the continent, the World Bank. She is honest in her critique of USAID and DFID being partly handcuffed by their country's larger foreign policy goals, but fails to place blame at the feet of these agencies' mother nations for their roles in producing or at least aiding in the creation of political instability of the region. Still, with these very serious critiques aside, Lancaster does do a very good job in providing valuable organizational critiques of several very important aid agencies. In this respect, this is a valuable piece of scholarship. I just wish she had the ability to be more honest (as she is a former government employee and recipient of significant US government funding, it may not be realistic to expect this of her) or less blind.
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