Are PCVs Dead Aid?

You have mostlikely heard about, or read about, Dambisa Moyo and her new book: Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa that was published this month by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Dambisa Moyo was born and raised in Zambia. She completed a PhD in Economics at Oxford University and holds a Masters from Harvard University. She worked at the World Bank in D.C., then at Goldman Sachs for 8 years in the debt capital markets, hedge fund coverage and in global macroeconomics teams.

Her new book says that foreign aid is preventing Africa from becoming self-reliant. She proposes that within the decade, all foreign aid to Africa be cut off. To make her point about ‘dead aid’ she has gone after Bono and other celebrities who flock to Africa to get babies and give aid. She has earned herself the title, Anti-Bono.
Her argument is that billions of dollars in aid sent from wealthy countries to developing African nations has not helped to reduce poverty and increase growth. She points out that  poverty levels continue to escalate and growth rates have steadily declined-and millions continue to suffer.

She sees the way to salvation through trade, and cites China as one super power who might be the answer for Africa, though she has some serious reservations about China, too.

She loves micro credits. She thinks that remittances from the African Diaspora as a key factor. That, and good local government. “The African issue should be championed by the African leaders charged with delivering long-term growth for their people. Anyone else offering opinions is pretty much moot” is how she sums it all up

But what about the Peace Corps? Where, if anywhere, are the PCVs? Are they, as we said in the ’60s, part of the problem, or part of the solution?

One way, I think, we make our difference is at the micro level. Nowhere in Africa can you find anyone more micro than a PCV! We are living examples of ‘micro’ as we walk at the grass roots levels through all those villages and towns. Think about our small role in the African landscape the next time Bono flies over the Sahel.


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  • John: On the day that you and I first went off to Ethiopia, we were hoping to improve the lot of 20 million starving Ethiopians. Today USAID workers are trying to save 80 million starving Ethiopians. I agree with Ms. Moyo that the macro-AID system isn’t doing any good at all.

    On a micro level, however, I recently met three of my former 6th grade students who are living middle-class lives in Saudi Arabia. The reason they are not starving is because Tom Cutler, Paul Koprowski and I taught them to speak English, a skill whch has opened job opportunities for them in the modern “flat” world.

    The best thing that our Peace Corps group did was to make you and I much broader and wiser people than we would have been had we stayed in Michigan or New Jersey.

  • Ironic that Tom Gallagher leaves a message 48 years after his Peace Corps assignment in Agordat Eretriea Ethiopia. More ironic, that I leave another about my witness and observations and experiences of PC when it began in 1961 and continued in 70s.

    Too much to say! But perhaps it’s one reason why we have so diverse population in US today!😳

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