catallaxy files

catallaxy in technical exile

More dissent on development

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Thanks to Antony Carr for a steer to some recent books reporting from the front line in the Third World. One of these is A Great Deal of Nonsense regarding the failures of aid programs to date. After a disappointing experience as a consultant  to an aid project he probed a little further…and further.

As the years passed he realised that this was not an isolated case. In fact the Swedish aid official responsible for distributing millions of dollars of assistance to Tanzania at the time admitted that not a single project could be called sustainable. This revelation led John Hollaway to spend the next fifteen years gathering data on aid and trying to discover why it so often failed to improve the lot of the poverty-stricken. More importantly, when he did discover the causes of this failure, he was able to show how they could be overcome.

‘All Poor Together’ is a riveting personal account of this search. As the author has said

This book started as, and to an extent still is, a series of stories of my experiences in the gold mining business in Africa, principally about the crooks, scams and frauds that tend to gravitate to this part of the world. I have worked in the bush in over twenty countries of the continent, so there are some good stories to tell. But as I wrote, I realised that it was becoming a rant about the waste, the ineffectuality and the stupidity of the aid business on the continent. So I stopped, did a lot of research and restarted. The book really has become a catalogue of the frailty, the corruptibility if you like, of institutions, of big companies, stock exchanges, governments, and above all the aid organizations.

John Hollaway argues that the way forward is to start from below, to construct a new African society that has an interest in reforming its own political and social arrangements for the better. This society would have the courage to finally discard the clutches of the old family-based, polygamous cultural survival mechanism that was once so successful but now has become the instrument of its impoverishment.

This is an extract from the blurb on a subsequent book by the same author on a wider scope. Of course, being PR material it could be a lot of crap, but it is consistent with the most credible reports that I know about.

John Hollaway’s new book points out that for the first time in the history of life on earth a large section of human society has created an environment so secure that it is no longer necessary for its members to have numerous children for their culture to survive. Yet there is a feeling within this group that the economic system which produces such safe and comfortable lives draws too deeply on the earth’s resources for it to be allowed to spread to the rest of the globe. Development aid is not intended to create wealthier populations but is given out in the hope that the poor can live more happily in their time-honoured ways in harmony with the environment, as Rousseau envisaged with his ‘Noble Savage’. Poverty alleviation, not wealth creation, is the mantra.

There is no evidence that mankind cannot reverse the negative trends that he may have caused in the environment. There is no evidence that the wealthy countries of the world are the biggest threat to it. There is no evidence at all that savagery is ennobling. The irrefutable evidence is that poverty is associated with wars, disease and pollution, and poverty is what must be defeated. This book sets out how it can be done


Written by Admin

May 20, 2006 at 11:56 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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