Ethiopia, one of the poorest countries in the world, has a largely agricultural economy and suffers from periodic famines. Yet in 2007, about 50 percent of U.S. assistance to Ethiopia went to HIV/AIDS prevention, 38 percent to emergency food relief, and 7 percent to child survival, family planning, and malaria prevention and treatment. Only 1.5 percent went to agriculture, 1.5 percent to economic growth, 1.5 percent to education, and 1 percent to improving governance. Such distorted profiles of development aid are unfortunately quite common. Strategic needs on the ground should dictate the nature of the programs, but currently, allocation decisions are determined by earmarks, presidential initiatives, or diplomatic pressures.
Three former heads of USAID tell the next President how to reinvent US foreign aid in Foreign Affairs.
Agriculture and industry are just not sexy. They make especially bad cover photos for glossy NGO reports. Maybe we need Bono in a blue collar. Brangelina in straw hats hawking GMO corn. And little plastic wristbands that read More Sweatshops for Africa.