In This Review

The Ills of Aid: An Analysis of Third World Development Policies
The Ills of Aid: An Analysis of Third World Development Policies
By Eberhard Reusse
University Of Chicago Press, 2002, 127 pp

A former aid official with experience in Africa and elsewhere, Reusse offers a bottom-up critique of foreign aid as it is actually executed. He provides two detailed case studies for verisimilitude. The first discusses programs for reducing "food waste" from production to consumption. The second dissects the creation of "cereal banks" for the purpose of relieving farmers of the requirement to store products for future sale and collectivizing the sale of products, thus cutting out some middlemen. Through these studies, he criticizes international organizations, national aid agencies, and some nongovernmental organizations for "cultural imperialism." They ignore indigenous institutional structures, which are often more efficient than credited for by outsiders, and persistently impose donor paradigms long after a dispassionate analysis would indicate that the imported model has failed or is sustainable only with perpetual financial assistance. The author's plea is not to stop aid but to provide donors with greater knowledge and respect for local conditions. Donors should monitor programs critically and drop failing programs sooner, while introducing greater accountability into aid-giving institutions.