Foreign Aid to Africa: How Far and How Well?

  • Kenneth Kalu
Part of the African Histories and Modernities book series (AHAM)


Drawing from the literature on aid effectiveness and using case studies of donor-funded public health programs in Nigeria, this chapter notes that foreign aid can indeed weaken national institutions and compound the problem of poverty and bad governance. This does not mean that aid has no positive impact on society. In many cases, donor interventions in social services, especially in the public health arena, have been hugely beneficial to the receiving communities. Foreign aid that is effectively delivered can ameliorate some of the harsh effects of poverty. However, through various mechanisms, donor projects can also produce negative externalities on national institutions. For examples, donor projects have often pulled competent staff away from government departments, thereby worsening capacity challenges within the government bureaucracy. In addition, huge external interventions in the public health sector of some African countries have led to distortions and confusions within the national system.


  1. Bendavid, Eran, and Jayanta Bhattacharya. 2009. The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief in Africa: An Evaluation of Outcomes. Annals of Internal Medicine 150 (10): 688–695.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Berg, Elliot. 1993. Rethinking Technical Co-operation. New York: UNDP.Google Scholar
  3. Birdsall, Nancy. 2006. Seven Deadly Sins: Reflections on Donor Failings. In Reform & Growth. Evaluating the World Bank Experience, ed. Ajay Chhibber, Kyle R. Peters, and Barbara Yale, 515–551. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers.Google Scholar
  4. Brautigam, Debora, and Stephen Knack. 2004. Foreign Aid, Institutions and Governance in Sub Saharan Africa. Economic Development and Cultural Change 52 (2): 255–285.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Croghan, Thomas, Amanda Beatty, and Aviva Ron. 2006. Routes to Better Health for Children in Four Developing Countries. Milbank Quaterly 84: 333–358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Easterly, William. 2006. The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good. New York: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  7. Lancaster, Carol. 1999. Aid to Africa: So Much to Do, So Little Done. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  8. Lee, Melissa, and Melina Izama. 2015. Aid Externalities: Evidence from PEPFAR in Africa. World Development 67: 281–294.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Levy, Brian, and Sahr Kpundeh, eds. 2005. State Capacity in Africa: New Approaches, Emerging Lessons. Washington, DC: World Bank Institute.Google Scholar
  10. Morss, Elliot. 1984. Institutional Destruction Resulting from Donor Project Proliferation in Sub Saharan African Countries. World Development 12 (4): 465–470.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Pack, Howard, and Janeth Rothenberg Pack. 1993. Foreign Aid and the Question of Fungibility. The Review of Economics and Statistics 75: 258–265.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Shleifer, Andrea, and Robert Vishny. 1993. Corruption. Quarterly Journal of Economics 108 (3): 599–617.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. van de Walle, Nicolas. 2005. Overcoming Stagnation in Aid-Dependent Countries. Washington, DC: Center for Global Development.Google Scholar
  14. World Bank. 2002. The Role and Effectiveness of Development Assistance: Lessons from World Bank Experience. Washington, DC: World Bank.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kenneth Kalu
    • 1
  1. 1.Ted Rogers School of ManagementRyerson UniversityTorontoCanada

Personalised recommendations