Feb 28, 2010
Center for Democracy and Civil Society

Aid corrupts: a case study

In my early twenties, I spent two years traveling around Latin America and the Middle East. I lived on a shoestring budget, slept in horrible hotels, and worked the most menial jobs. I thought it was great.

In my late twenties, I worked on foreign aid for the US Department of the Treasury. I went to Africa often and stayed at the nicest hotels. It was a big step up from the days of hostels with cold showers, broken locks on doors, and putrid bathrooms. I appreciated my good fortune.

These days, I consult on aid policy to Africa from time to time. I still stay at the nicest hotels on the continent. The big difference is that I no longer appreciate the hotels, but moan whenever the wireless internet or satellite TV isn’t working.

Take it from me, aid corrupts.


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Founded in 2004, Democracy and Society is a biannual print journal published by the Center for Democracy and Civil Society at Georgetown University. The D&S Blog provides web-only content, including special reports and investigative series, on issues relating to democracy and development.

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