The Politics of Aid

The giving of aid can be politically popular in donor countries and can, if given in the right way, help the recipients economically (  It can also make a positive or negative political impact on the recipients:

  • Aid can be offered with preconditions, to pressurise a government to behave better, as advocated by Larry Diamond in his article End Foreign Aid As We Know It; he suggested a strengthening of George W. Bush’s Millennium Challenge Account (MCA), which offers:

“sizeable increases in aid on the basis of three criteria: ruling justly (by providing freedom and a rule of law and by controlling corruption); investing in people (especially basic health and education); and promoting economic freedom”.

  • Such political leverage has had mixed results, though – as shown in E.A. Brett’s article, Explaining Aid (In)Effectiveness: The Political Economy of Aid Relationships, which “showed that aid relationships succeed when donors cooperate with progressive regimes, but confront major problems in fragile and fragmented states”.
  • It might undermine a government’s accountability to its people by ‘letting them off the hook’: making other countries responsible for providing people’s socio-economic rights. Dambisa Moyo eloquently made this point in her book, Dead Aid, reviewed in The Guardian article: Everybody knows it doesn’t work.

Aid is not a long-term solution to the problems experienced by developing countries.  They can only become independent and prosperous through development of good governance and economic capability within the country, as discussed next (



This is a current page, from the Patterns of Power Edition 3a book, © PatternsofPower.org, 2020.  An archived copy of it is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition03/6761a.htm