Tuesday 26 May 2009

Sachs smackdown

Jeff Sachs last week delivered an ugly attack on Bill Easterly on The Huffington Post in which he accused Easterly of seeking to pull the ladder up behind him and deny aid to folks in Africa. A nasty cheap shot, and without foundation.

Easterly replies today, rebutting Sachs' accusations using bits of Easterly's own work previously cited by Sachs.
Sachs accuses me of such a hard heart as to deny "$10 in aid to an African child for an anti-malaria bed net." Sachs offers: "Here are some of the most effective kinds of aid efforts: support for peasant farmers to help them grow more food, childhood vaccines... roads, .. safe drinking water...."

Sachs likes a lot more another writer whom he quoted in his book Common Wealth:
"Put the focus back where it belongs: get the poorest people in the world such obvious goods as the vaccines,... the improved seeds, the fertilizer, the roads, the boreholes, the water pipes...." Wait, that was me!

Sachs was earlier quoting from my book, The White Man's Burden, which far from wanting to deny an African child bed nets, denounces the tragedy of aid impunity, in which "The West spent $2.3 trillion and still had not managed to get four-dollar bed nets to poor families."

Sachs complained that "most Americans know little about the many crucially successful aid efforts, because Moyo, Easterly, and others lump all kinds of programs -- the good and the bad -- into one big undifferentiated mass." Sachs again prefers another writer whom he quoted in Common Wealth: "Foreign aid likely contributed to some notable successes on a global scale, such as dramatic improvement in health and education indicators in poor countries."

You guessed it -- that was me again, illustrating how aid COULD work if only aid agencies were accountable for their actions.
Easterly then goes on to highlight some of the cases of "aid impunity" against which he's been fighting.

Easterly's Aid Watch is on my RSS reader; add it to yours if you haven't.

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