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Aid Critic Easterly Joins Blogosphere

Look out ICT4Ders, NYU economist and prominent aid critic William Easterly has started a blog, Aid Watch, whose objective is to “be brutally honest when aid is not helping the poor, but also praising it when it is.” His first post takes a shot at recent Op-Eds by World Bank president Robert Zoellick calling for donors to pony up more money for the Bank without necessarily calling for more accountability or commitments on how it will be spent. A TARP for IFIs, perhaps. I tend to think that Easterly’s criticisms on accountability are a bit overblown (at least outside of the Bank) since bilateral donors and NGOs I’ve worked with tend to spend an inordinate amount of time proving they are ‘responsible, well coordinated and achieving results,’ instead of actually implementing programs and connecting with their local counterparts. That said, he made some good points (and a lot of waves) with his book The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good, where he criticizes high minded “planners” in foreign aid and praises the “searchers” who find local solutions to local problems. He clearly welcomes and responds to comments and constructive criticism on the blog, so should be a great place to go for debate on foreign aid, which the Obama administration has pledged to increase, along with the Gates Foundation, which announced that it will also increase giving, even as its endowment shrinks.

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