Aid Debates Rage On

Amy Benzinger June 23, 2009

If you haven’t followed the last few months of debate between Jeffrey Sachs/Bill Easterly/Dambisa Moyo and recent entrant Magatte Wade, now would be an interesting time to jump in. Yesterday Bill Easterly wrote a follow up response to Magatte Wade’s Huffington Post article criticizing the Millenium Village.
Wade wrote:
On a brochure for a tour of Jeff Sachs’ Millenium Village in Rwanda, managed by one of Sachs’ Columbia University colleagues, Rule #1 is “Please do not give anything to the villagers — no sweets, cookies, empty water bottles, pens or even money.” While I’m sure the rule is well-intentioned, it captures perfectly the revolting condescension that I feel from the Millenium Villages project. Unlike the ignorant elderly woman, celebrated professors at Columbia University cannot be excused through their ignorance. When highly educated people can objectify us with a “Don’t feed the animals” sign, the only explanation is a blinding arrogance. These people are so sure that they are noble for helping the ignorant chimps, that they hadn’t even noticed just how humiliating the expression is.”
Wade’s outlash and Easterly’s compounded criticism sparked a defensive response from the Eos Visions Network representative who developed the language for MV’s brochure.
This discussion becomes extremely important to the growth of Social Capital Markets as developing countries seek avenues for sustained economic growth. How can aid systems effectively transition into trade initiatives that empower grassroots social entrepreneurs? What is our role in the West as we seek to support the growth of highly capable and entrepreneurial economies in Africa? It will certainly be exciting to learn from organizations at SoCap09 like Appfrica that see what is working and have ideas about how this transition can happen.

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