Has development aid had its time? (PART 1)

This post is based on the article written by M. Leroy:


Traditional development aid is very old and many say that it is at his end. We have to rethink the concept says M. Leroy. The relevance of aid is decreasing,  there is also a problem about the impact of aid and there are some huge changes in circumstances like the environment and the upcoming industrial countries (ex. China).  Most investments deliver very poor or none results! But the obsession of increasing budgets keeps on going, and one keep on focusing on the ‘0.7% of the Brut national product’ policy. Furthermore have many people good jobs thanks to the ‘aid industry’, and they keep on going behind the smoke screen of development aid without checking if their actions deliver results!

Some principles that M. Leroy introduced:

  • Money changing hands to ideas changing minds
  • donor logic to actor logic
  • emergency aid has its own norms and logic
  • from focusing on incomes to focusing on outcomes
  • effectiveness: the extent in which a goal is reached
  • from development assistance to internationalization

In our next post we will talk about the suggested alternative of M. Leroy, internationalization. To finish this post I want demonstrate that his vision is in some way parallel to that of Ernesto Sirolli (see earlier blog).

“It also not only about quantity (how many kids go to school?) also not only about quality (how good is the education?) but also about accountability and participation, giving the people a chance to go their own way. “

But M. Leroy goes a little further, he claims that if they can fix it on their own, you’ve got to leave them alone.


9 thoughts on “Has development aid had its time? (PART 1)

  1. tijlcrauwels says:

    I don’t think that the traditional development aid has run its course, I do agree that the impact is much less than when you let them participate and listen to them. But the traditional aid helps them in the present, while a lot of efforts to make them stand on their own feet will take some years to be achieved.

    What M. Leroy sais about letting them fix it on their own is correct in a way, but is not possible anymore in my opinion. It would have been possible if the development aid had never started. But making people count on you, dependant on you for food, shelter, health supplies just ensures that they won’t be able to fix it theirselves.

    I think the future needs to hold a more combined aiding system, where there needs to be more effort into getting people on their own two feet. But supplying them in their needs untill they are able to, and for that I think there is still need for the traditional development aid.

    • woutcordeel says:

      Indeed, they should keep the development aid as well but hopefully by implementing this internationalization the people can be more independent of the aid. Rome wasn’t built in a day, of course this wil take some time.

      The choice of tactics, development aid or internationalization, is dependent on the current situation. For example: in Mali, the Malian and French army are in conflict with rebels. Today, development aid in some regions is more important than this internationalization but in the future, the aid should be reduced.

      An other example is Argentina, one of the most industrialized countries of Latin America. In the more deserted regions of the country participation is more important than aid, because their general standard of living is better. This should be the next phase in regions identical to the first example.

      • I agree that development aid has to be reduced, because this does not help the people any further on long term. They should be able to provide their own feed and make their own money. It is also a good sign if the development aid reduces. The problem often is that they focus too much on money ‘flow’ (input), and in this way they forget the real goal and don’t think out of the box. For example ‘Music for life’, very nice and amusing but instead of giving them lots of mosquito nets (maybe to many?) they could start a factory that makes those nets. In this factory local people can work, and they could sell it for an acceptable price and promote it.

      • tijlcrauwels says:

        I’m still wondering about those musquito nets, I think that making them locally would increase the price of those nets because now they are cheap due to mass production, while this won’t be possible if you outsource it to local factories and the people wouldn’t be able to afford them.

        For things like this to work you need to create an entire local economy, which is much harder than creating one factory or something like that. I think the future will need development aid to support the creation of a local economy, which will then be supported by local projects, such as humasol is working on.

        Reading what I just wrote, makes me think that the development aid used for such cause might actually apply for being called sustainable development coorperation. So I think I might just have misunderstood the concept.

      • That’s right Tijl, development aid is to save lives the next day and sustainable development aid is about saving lives in the future, giving the opportunity to develop themselves and increase their living standards. The development aid should reduce in the future and sustainable development cooperation should increase.

    • I agree with you that development aid is still necessary, because it saves lives like I said earlier. But I think that M. Leroy means that there is also need of another kind of development, which he calls internationalization. That will be explained in my next blog, if it isn’t still clear for you we could continue the discussion.

      About the second matter you brought up, am I correct to say that you mean the following: If one is considering about development aid/cooperation in a certain region you first have to check if they really need your help or that they could manage it themselves, and that at this moment many regions are dependent on aid (which is then a huge problem) and cannot be left on their own? I agree then with you, but I have to remark that M. Leroy is not talking about aid, like he said: “development aid has its own rules and logic”.

      About you’re third matter, I will think about that and tell something about that in my next post.

  2. gabuglio says:

    My opinion is that development aid is necessary and remains indispensable in these countries untill the people living there can manage, produce and live on their own. It will take a very long time before this happens. And I think it is also our fault. It’s like Ernesto Sirolli said, over the years we have destroyed much more with our money than that we have build. And now we are starting to realize and admit it.
    This is the first step to sustainable development. Now we have to help them where they want us to help of where they ask us to help.
    M. Leroy says: ‘If they can fix it on their own, leave them alone.’ I don’t agree for 100% with this statement. In technologie we stand much further then them so we still have to offer our help without impose ourselves. If they don’t know we can offer them help, they will not come and ask it. So we have to make them aware that we want to help and if then they still think that they don’t need it we leave them alone.

    • You mean that we have to be sure that they don’t need our help by keep offering it?

      • gabuglio says:

        Not exactly. I mean that they have to be aware at all time that we can offer them the help they need and that we are willing to give it to them. But they have to come to us with a detailed explanation of their problem so that we can help them on their specific problem without imposing ourselves in their other business.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: