on November 28, 2011
Samantha Nutt's voice in Damned Nations rings heartfelt and true. Most important of all, it is anchored by the people our choices here at home' affect. From rape victims in Eastern Congo, oppressed women in Afghanistan, widowed young mothers in Darfur and fallen human rights heroes murdered for speaking out and following their hearts are the living definitions of injustice that define the gaps in the humanitarian movement.
It is not enough to support 'good' causes. We must adhere to good policy and refuse to exercise apathy. Sam eloquently forces us to reconsider the status quo. She compels us to question the truths that have anchored politics, the practices that characterize charitable giving, the principles on which foreign policy has been built and most important of all, Sam propels us to expect more. To ask more from ourselves, the charities we support, the companies we buy from, the banks with which we invest and the governments we elect.
To define this book as a memoir, or another humanitarian's account of the sector is inaccurate. Damned Nations is the book that all of us who shake our heads at the headlines and who wonder what can be done have been waiting for. It is a manifesto for the next generation of bleeding hearts with brains.
on February 9, 2014
I think the book is great because it presents the opportunity to think. You see foreign aid (development) through the eyes of someone who has been there and taken the time to understand what is happening,to look beyond the obvious to find the causes.
I found Dr. Nutts' thoughts made sense. The militarisation, and politicisation of aid are counter productive to development and can put civilian aid workers at risk.. The book reminds us that there are two kinds of aid, disaster relief, and development. Disaster relief is proving the necessities of life. These needs are made more acute where people very little before the disaster. Development is changing the conditions in a country/area. Changing the conditions is a process that will take years, perhaps a generation (20 years). Development is a hand up. It is education, developing markets for locally produced goods, changing attitudes towards different cultures and gender equality. these things are the basic requirements to bringing about permanent change.
I was reminded me of Ten Thousand Villages which are stores run by the Mennonite Central Committee. They buy goods at fair prices, from local artisans in developing countries and sell them in Canada. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to see foreign aid from a perspective that is rarely shown.
I am not a member or employee of War Child or Ten Thousand Villages. I have shopped at Ten Thousand Villages.
on January 14, 2015
An excellent examination of the unfortunate way aid is becoming more entwined with military spending. It can also be read in counterpoint to Dambisa Moyo's Dead Aid; the arguments in Damned Nations are far stronger, more compelling, less ideological, and in the end, more convincing, than those given in Dead Aid. McNutt destroys the idea that the free market is not the solution (as advocated in Dead Aid), as well as destroying the military-humanitarian hybrid which many NGOs are moving towards.
A must read for those interested in international development and aid.