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Too Much Aid: Not Enough Help

Ken Gibson
The Columbia Press
RRP $27.95

Reviewed by John Ruhle.

In a relatively dry read Ken Gibson, Chief Executive of The Leprosy Mission Ireland sets out to explore the need for aid and how effective the current model of Overseas Development Aid is working.

The author provides many facts, figures and statistics to highlight the issues at hand and of note is the observation that 96% of current Overseas Development Aid is distributed in a multilateral government to government manner.

The remaining 4% of money is distributed through the many different aid organisations working in the world. As a result of this statistic much of the criticism of the current aid distribution model is directed at the wealthy developed donor countries.
Of particular note is the authors observation that through adopting a ‘free market and neoliberal economic model’ by the donor countries, the result has generally been a flow of resources away from the poorer nations towards the richer nations.

In an age when many governments around the world, including the Australian government are increasing the amount of Overseas Development Aid that is being given this book provides a timely reminder that not only is there a need for an increase in the amount of aid given but also in the effectiveness of aid provided.

The book is not all doom and gloom and the author goes to pains to be clear that “not all aid is bad”. In the final chapter Too Much Aid: Not Enough Help outlines recommendations for meaningful change in the distribution of Overseas Development Aid.

This book is well worth reading for those wanting to have a global perspective and who want to better understand the history and nature of aid as well as how the aid we give can truly provide help.