In This Review

Aid to Africa: So Much to Do, So Little Done
Aid to Africa: So Much to Do, So Little Done
By Carol Lancaster
University of Chicago Press, 1999, 272 pp.

An excellent analysis and critique of foreign aid in Africa, centered on why so much assistance has produced so little development. A former official at the U.S. Agency for International Development and the State Department, Lancaster knows whereof she speaks, and her explanations are lucid, nuanced, and highly persuasive. The roots of failure, she finds, lie as much in the donor agencies as in the recipient governments. Pressures to dispense loans, political interference, lack of analytical capacity, and overreliance on expatriate technical advisers all limit and even undermine aid's developmental impact. The strengths and weaknesses of American, French, British, Japanese, Swedish, Italian, World Bank, and EU programs are compared, as are the growing multiple roles of nongovernmental organizations. Lancaster's sound recommendations for change -- for example, that aid programs be insulated against political intervention by donor governments, and that aid agencies and their staffs eliminate bureaucratic pressure to spend -- are bound to ruffle aid-agency feathers.