The Donor’s Dilemma: Thinking Politically About Difficult Choices

A paper by political economist extraordinaire Niheer Dasandi and myself on the messy morality of international aid was published as a working paper by the Developmental Leadership Program (DLP), an international research initiative that explores how leadership, power and political processes drive or block successful development. To summarise the summary of the paper:

Many donors and development organisations work in complex political realities and we need to move past a naïve belief that donors should never provide aid to non-democratic governments. Equally, it is important that we avoid the other extreme where we ignore signs of increasing repression and rights violations.

We argue that at the heart of thinking and working politically lies the ability to respond to changing circumstances and to be aware of warning signs. Further, the framework illustrates that a political approach to aid, which is sensitive to political contexts and structural constraints, need not be normatively silent.

Full paper here.


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