Showing posts from April, 2012

The fallacy of cheap foreign aid

I watched the video to Sarah McLachlan's World on Fire - a nice, likeable song. The video makes claims such as the following:
"$150,000 could make a difference to over 1,000,000 people""$200 [pays for a] Production Assistant in LA for 1 day, or 100 children's school fees for 1 term in Ethiopia""$10,200 = 2 hours of film stock, or 6 wells built in 6 different countries"I will trust Sarah McLachlan that these claims are technically correct - "the best kind of correct".

The problem with these statements is that they stop being correct when applied at a meaningful scale.

I would hazard a guess that a well would cost a lot more than $1,700 to build, if you build it in the US.

In the US, $2 is obviously not enough to pay for a child's school fees for one term, regardless of how poor the quality.

The reason these costs are "lower" in places like Ethiopia is not because it takes less work to do them. In fact, building a well, or pro…