Whenever anybody makes a suggestion for improving foreign assistance, there is a long queue of vested interests thoughtful people ready to pour scorn on it offer constructive criticism. To save everyone effort in future, here is a cut-out-and-keep, one-size fits all template for criticising every possible aid proposal. I hope you will find it useful for criticising any ideas that people suggest in the coming year.
- This project may solve some problems but it won’t solve every problem.
Your proposal may help some people but it will not solve the terrible plight of people in post conflict states / fragile states / small island states / good performing countries / Africa / Asia / middle income countries / people with AIDS / marginalised communities [delete as applicable]. The future of these people is essential to progress towards the MDGs. Why are you proposing something that will not address their needs?
- Your proposal does not focus on the real priority.
It is shocking that you should be proposing to spend money on this when it is clear that any additional money should go to (select one):
- agriculture, because 80% of the world’s poor live in rural areas
- health, because without our health we cannot be productive and it is a basic human right
- education, because nothing is more important than educating our young; look at Asia etc
- infrastructure, because you need roads and electricity for economic growth
- water, because without water there isn’t life; women have to walk for 4 hours a day, etc
- climate change adaptation, because the sea is rising and we are all doomed
- women, because they raise the family, do all the work, educate the family, etc
- capacity building, because you can give a man a fish and feed him for a day or teach him how to fish and feed him for a lifetime
- small businesses, because we like small business which is folksy but not big business which is sinister; women’s handicrafts are especially good;
- microfinance, because Mohammed Yunus is very impressive and saintly and microfinance sounds like it is a form of self-help
- population control, because the problem is that there are just too many of them;
- donkey sanctuaries – have you seen how the donkeys are treated? It is so sad.
- Your proposal is unsustainable. Your project may help people in the short term but aid cannot be permanent.
Because aid cannot be permanent, poor people should be expected to pay for everything themselves after a few years, especially all the things that our governments provide for us like health, education, transport, research and development, infrastructure, security etc. If we go on helping the poor they will become lazy and helpless and then they won’t be like us. We must make them stand on their own two feet. The best way to do this is to make it clear that any help is only temporary. Your idea won’t work when the outside funding stops so it is “unsustainable”.
- It is a new idea, and that will mean a lot of work.
Everything that should be done is already being done, which is why everything is going so well in developing countries (well, apart from the poverty, hunger etc). Therefore no new ideas are needed. I am too busy managing existing aid programmes to give serious consideration to whether yours will work. If you really want to help people in developing countries you should support existing programmes such as mine.
- Everybody in development is corrupt and lazy.This does not apply to anybody that I know personally but it is true of everyone else. So your aid project won’t work.
It says in the Daily Mail is well known that all governments are corrupt and inefficient; all international organisations are run by self-enriching and lazy bureaucrats; all aid agencies are run for the benefit of the donor country; all NGOs are small and inefficient and often corrupt too. Therefore your aid project won’t work. I know this wonderful NGO which is run be saintly people who do amazing things but there are no others like that.
- Rich countries should open their markets to exports from developing countries. Therefore your aid project won’t work.
Rich countries do things which are very bad for poor countries, like erecting trade barriers, buying oil and enforcing intellectual property rights. This is unassailable proof that aid does not work.
- Jeff Sachs used to work on Bolivia and Dambisa Moyo is from Zambia. Therefore aid does not work.
Jeff Sachs thinks that aid should be trebled and everybody knows this is a bad idea because he had something to do with free market reforms in Bolivia and then he changed his mind. So he is wrong. Dambisa Moyo says aid causes great harm and although she hasn’t got any proof she is both a woman and from Zambia (and she is quite presentable on the TV). These facts prove that aid does not work.