The current effort by the United Nations to double worldwide aid flows is part of a pattern to reinvent foreign aid. Since the 1950s, the industry has alternately focused on promoting industrialization, agriculture, poverty reduction, health, institutions, and so on. The UN has sponsored numerous grandiose resolutions that have also failed to spur development.
We have come to the point where new ideas on making aid work are recycled old ideas. In practice, the aid industry has not changed much. The ineffectiveness of aid has little to do with a lack of resources. Its roots lie instead in the complex nature of poverty and the flawed nature of institutions and governments in poor countries. The aid industry’s bureaucratic continuing growth also undermines effectiveness and accountability. Rich nations should reject calls for increasing aid and should probably reduce such funding.