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I am not thrilled to continue the conversation about Dambiso Moyo’s book. But Duncan Green, in a useful review of the reviews, notes that Dead Aid is now 3rd on Amazon’s U.S. sales list, so the initial hype may have a long-lasting influence. Here’s the bottom line of one review he mentions by his Oxfam colleague Chikondi Mpokosa – a Malawian woman: “Moyo’s book has done a lot of harm, which will have a real human cost.” I suspect she’s wrong that the book has already done harm. It depends on how many people who bought it read it, and on whether they buy (figuratively) her argument. For why they ought not to, see what my colleagues, Roodman, Moss and Radelet, have to say.
Meanwhile I am disheartened by the renewal, triggered by Moyo’s book, of the increasingly unpleasant tit for tat between Jeff Sachs and Bill Easterly. I am with the majority of students of aid who agree with both of them, yes both of them, on one thing they actually agree on: that aid has made a difference in improving people’s lives and that there ought to be more of it. You wouldn’t know that what they disagree about is not whether aid “works” but how aid programs should be designed and implemented – a subject that doesn’t get headlines but matters. If you want to know my take on what’s wrong with the aid system go here. If you want learn what can be done about it, and what we’re doing about it at CGD, go here.