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Is foreign aid working?

Is Britain's international development department raising expectations it cannot meet? A prominent aid critic takes on the secretary of state

By William Easterly   November 2006

Dear Hilary Benn 27th September 2006

We share a concern for the world’s poor and the tragedies they confront every day. However, I must respectfully disagree with the approach that your department for international development (DfID) takes to world poverty. I have similar concerns about other aid agencies, but the flaws I discuss below are exemplified perhaps even more in DfID than elsewhere. Let me use your recent white paper on international development to illustrate my concerns.

In your introduction to the white paper, you spoke of keeping promises and taking responsibility. Both are critical to making foreign aid reach…

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