28 June 2011

The quantity fallacy of ineffective aid



Within an interesting article on returnee Sudanese diaspora, I spotted this nugget which falls victim to the John Quiggin quantity fallacy of ineffective aid:
Since the peace agreement, donor countries have pumped more than $1 billion in aid into South Sudan—to little noticeable effect outside the capital. This is a place where the nicest homes and office buildings are little more than prefabricated containers—most people live in mud huts with conical straw roofs or in single-story cinder-block buildings, and glass windows are still a luxury.
Wow a BILLION dollars! That's a lot right? Or is it? To paraphrase Penn is a billion a shedload or a motherfunking shedload? It basically may as well be quadrillion for all my little head can cope.

So how about we scale it down to something understandable. Not that the aid was handed out to actual people, but imagine for a second it was.

$1 billion divided by 8 million Southern Sudanese people = $125 each.

Over 5 years that is $25 a year each.

So, Mr. Deng, we've been giving you $25 a year for FIVE YEARS now and you still don't have anything to show for it. Clearly then aid doesn't work or it has all been wasted or stolen.

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