“With­out ef­fec­tive states work­ing with ac­tive and in­volved cit­i­zens, there is lit­tle chance for the growth that is needed to abol­ish global poverty”

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

fails in prac­tice, be­cause the donors, un­der pres­sure from their own cit­i­zens (who rightly want to help the poor), need to dis­burse money just as much as poor-coun­try gov­ern­ments need to re­ceive it, if not more so.

What about by­pass­ing gov­ern­ments and giv­ing aid di­rectly to the poor? Cer­tainly, the im­me­di­ate ef­fects are likely to be bet­ter, es­pe­cially in coun­tries where lit­tle gov­ern­ment-to-gov­ern­ment aid ac­tu­ally reaches the poor. And it would take an as­ton­ish­ingly small sum of money – about 15 US cents a day from each adult in the rich world – to bring ev­ery­one up to at least the des­ti­tu­tion line of a dol­lar a day.

Yet this is no so­lu­tion. Poor peo­ple need gov­ern­ment to lead bet­ter lives; tak­ing gov­ern­ment out of the loop might im­prove things in the short run, but it would leave un­solved the un­der­ly­ing prob­lem. Poor coun­tries can­not for­ever have their health ser­vices run from abroad. Aid un­der­mines what poor peo­ple need most: an ef­fec­tive gov­ern­ment that works with them for to­day and to­mor­row.

One thing that we can do is to ag­i­tate for our own gov­ern­ments to stop do­ing those things that make it harder for poor coun­tries to stop be­ing poor. Re­duc­ing aid is one, but so is lim­it­ing the arms trade, im­prov­ing rich-coun­try trade and sub­sidy poli­cies, pro­vid­ing tech­ni­cal ad­vice that is not tied to aid, and de­vel­op­ing bet­ter drugs for dis­eases that do not af­fect rich peo­ple. We can­not help the poor by mak­ing their al­ready-weak gov­ern­ments even weaker.

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