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Lords of Poverty: The Power, Prestige, and Corruption of the International Aid Business

NCJ Number
G Hancock
Date Published
234 pages
This study examines the work of official, tax-supported agencies administering aid to poverty-stricken Third World countries.
The aid projects examined include those sponsored by the World Bank, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the United Nations Development Program, and UNICEF. The study focuses on the failure of aid projects administered by such organizations and the affluent lifestyles of the bureaucratic staff. The book concludes that Brazilian indians whose rain forests have been felled in the name of progress now face genocide; Western aid perpetuates corrupt regimes throughout the world; grain rushed to Somalia during the 1986 famine had already been rejected by San Francisco zookeepers as unfit for their animals; and in Indonesia tribal people are persecuted and ecological resources destroyed in one of the largest resettlement programs in history. In citing such failures and miscalculations, the book argues that the international aid system is inherently flawed, dysfunctional, and corrupt. The book further reasons that the main function of the aid bureaucracy in the past half century has been to create and then entrench a powerful new class of rich and privileged people characterized by self-serving behavior, arrogance, paternalism, moral cowardice, and mendacity. The book recommends the complete cessation of aid in its present form to make it possible for the new construction of ways to help people directly according to their needs and aspirations as they themselves define them. Chapter references, subject index.