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Nik Gill

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Can first world countries spend their overseas aid budgets more effectively?

On March 20th 2013, Great Britain's government firmly backed a legislation that would ensure that 0.7% (~£11 Billion) of Gross National Income will be spent on Overseas Aid.

With many skeptics feeling that this money is often wasted or better spent in more important areas, how would you like to see this money spent to change the perception that International Aid isn't effective?

Myself and Maddy Nash would love to hear your thoughts!

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    Mar 31 2013: I am sorry for not reading all the other comments posted here. It might be a little of topic, but I just watched this video of Bono. He claims that tremendous progress has been made over the last years in Africa. Honestly, I am a bit skeptical.
    Bono is a singer. Does he know how the collection of data was made? It would make it worse to just shout out some encouraging statistics which could prove not to be true. Moreover, is is generally known that the worst off countries in Africa are Somania and the Republic of Congo. Why wasn't aid effective for those countries? Then again, how does he know that all the progress made was due to aid? It just leaves me with a big question mark. I am doing this module at university now and we had a topic about foreign aid. I had to start reading this book named "The White Man's Burden" by William Easterly. I found it brilliant. It is all about how aid should be done by people from the inside, incentivised by profit. He proves that Big Humanitarian Plans have failed constantly, since the '70s. I strongly reccommend reading at least the first 2 chapters. If anyone would like to continue this conversation, please send me a personal message ( alex.trancota@gmail.com) . Thank you, Nik Gill, for starting this conversation!
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      Mar 31 2013: Easterly has one point of view in the field of economic development. Another book that might interest you that offers both the Easterly point of view and the opposite and itself sits somewhere between is Banerjee and Duflos' Poor Economics. They use randomized control trials to see what works on the ground.
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        Apr 1 2013: Hi Fritzie,

        Thanks for joining our conversation too! I am currently reading up on Easterly as per James' suggestion but will also read Banerjee's work too. Do you have any views on how best to develop economies based on both books? I guess this would be a general thing as each country is different on their own right.

        Thanks again,
        Nik
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          Apr 1 2013: I have not made a study of this area, but I think skill-building and effective education for local populations is likely vital as well as insurance to mitigate some risks and mechanisms that facilitate saving and investment.
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        Apr 1 2013: Hi Fritzie,

        Thank you for those suggestions on skill-building, education & insurance. We're just creating a general overview of the key learnings we have found to date and hopefully we can push on our conversation from there!

        Speak soon,
        Nik
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      Apr 1 2013: Hi Alexandru,

      Thanks for joining our conversation!

      With regards to the Bono video, there are a couple of things to note...

      Many charities focus their marketing on the fact that there is so much poverty that exists in the world and we need to help end this. When they do this it feels as though the scale of the poverty that exists is higher than it actually is because very little focus / promotion is given to the 'success stories' that humanitarian / oversea seas aid has had to date to date. Therefore, there could well have been great strides made in Africa during this past year...

      The other thing to bare in mind is that Bono has actually been involved in charity work since the 80s so when he presents his case, he is very mindful of what he is saying. Just to give you an idea of his previous work, Bono set up an Amnesty International benefit tour called 'A Conspiracy of Hope' to help war-torn Nicaragua and El Salvador in the mid-to-late 80s and then campaigned with Greenpeace against a nuclear power plant in the UK; he also created an award-winning documentary entitled 'Miss Sarajevo' that was based on conflicts in Bosnia.

      Yes, James McGuiness also mentioned Easterly's work, which I am reading up on at the moment. I will let you know my thoughts once I have finished the book (in the next few days).

      Do you have any insights into how aid has been either successful or unsuccessful in rural Romania?

      Thanks James!
      Nik
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        Apr 1 2013: Hello, Nik,
        I agree that there have been lots of successful cases in which people have escaped poverty. But this is exactly the thing. How do you know that they have managed to do so by the use of aid? If you started reading the book, you know that Easterly compares planners and searchers. Therefore, the situation could very well have been improved by searchers, who are driven, in most cases, by profit. I am not saying it is so, I'm just skeptical.

        Second, I know that Bono has been highly involved in charity. To be fair, I didn't know anything about that documentary, but it seems very interesting. My question is the following: why has so little progress been made for Somalia and Congo since all these charitable actions take place? Is it because, although people start all these campaigns, they are not held accountable for a failure?

        Third, to be fair, I haven't even heard of such thing as aid in the Romanian rural areas. The best thing which could be done would be foreign investment, especially in the agricultural sector. I think that would beneficiate both parts the most (both Romanian people and investors), but I'm no expert.

        Thanks!
        Alex

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