Does Aid Work? – Absolutely!

16/08/2010 at 2:43 pm 2 comments

The “Aid doesn’t work” argument makes better headlines, no doubt.

But the “Aid Does Work” news makes for better news!

Here’s a short overview of the successes achieved, grouped by Millennium Development Goal:


  • Through a national input subsidy programme, Malawi achieved a 53% food surplus in 2007, from a 43% national food deficit in 2005.
  • Vietnam’s investment in agriculture research and extension helped cut the prevalence of hunger by more than half, from 28% in 1991 to 13% in 2004-06. The prevalence of underweight children also more than halved from 45% in 1994 to 20% in 2006.
  • Nicaragua reduced its hunger rate by more than half, from 52% in 1991 to 21% in 2004-06.
  • In Northeast Brazil, stunting, an indicator of child malnutrition, decreased from 22.2% to 5.9% between 1996 and 2006-07.
  • Between 1991 and 2004, the number of people who suffer from undernourishment in Ghana fell by 34%, to 9% of the population.
  • In Argentina, the Jefes y Jefas de Hogar programme employed 2 million workers within a few months after its initiation in 2002, contributing to the country’s rapid poverty reduction, from 9.9% in 2002 to 4.5% in 2005.


  • By eliminating fees, Kenya was able to quickly get 2 million more pupils into its primary schools.
  • In Ethiopia, the net enrolment rate for primary school was 72.3% in 2007, an increase of 88% on 2000 enrolment rates.
  • In Tanzania, the abolition of school fees in 2001 led to a net enrolment rate of 98% for primary schooling in 2006.  This represents an increase of 97% (i.e. almost double) compared to 1999 enrolment rates.
  • In Bolivia, bilingual education has been introduced for three of the most widely used indigenous languages, covering 11% of all primary schools in 2002 and helping expand access to education among indigenous children in remote areas.
  • Mongolia has been providing innovative mobile schools (“tent schools”) to cater to children in the countryside who may otherwise not have regular access to educational services. One hundred mobile schools have been spread out over 21 provinces.


  • Mexico’s ‘Oportunidades’ conditional cash transfer programme led to an increase of secondary school enrolment rates of over 20% for girls and 10% for boys in rural areas where the programme operated.
  • In 2008, Rwanda elected a majority of women (56%) to its lower chamber of parliament, the highest level of female representation of any country.
  • Starting from a very low gender parity index in primary education (0.35) in 1980s, Bangladesh closed the gender gap in primary and secondary education within a decade.
  • Tanzania’s Land Act and Village Land Act of 1999 secured women’s right to acquire title and registration of land, addressed issues of customary land rights, and upheld the principles of non-discrimination based on sex for land rights.
  • In Ethiopia’s Amhara Province, promotion of functional literacy, life skills, reproductive health education and opportunities for savings for girls has significantly reduced marriage of girls aged 10 to 14.
  • In Guyana, help for teenage mothers to improve their competencies through education and life skills training has significantly empowered them to make decisions for better lives for themselves and their children.


  • Rwanda is very likely to meet – and possibly even surpass – the MDG targets for child and maternal mortality by 2015, in part thanks to the government’s successful health insurance programme. [LINK to longer story]
  • The under-five child mortality rate has fallen by 40% or more since 1990 in Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique and Niger. In Malawi, for example, the under-five child mortality rate fell 56% between 1990 and 2008.
  • The under-five child mortality rate was reduced by 50% or more since 1990 in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Bolivia, Eritrea, Laos and Nepal.
  • Since 1990, China’s under-five child mortality rate has declined from 46 deaths for every 1000 live births to 18 per 1000 in 2008, a reduction of 61%.
  • From 1990 to 2008, child mortality declined by 25% in Equatorial Guinea and by 14% in Zambia.
  • Cambodia increased exclusive breastfeeding from 13% to 60% from 2000 to 2005, strengthening children and reducing their vulnerability to illnesses.


  • In Malawi and Rwanda, removal of user fees for family planning services has contributed to significant increases in use of family planning services.
  • In Rwanda, contraceptive prevalence among married women aged 15-49 jumped from 9% in 2005 to 26% in 2008.
  • The contraceptive prevalence rate among married women aged 15-49 in Malawi has more than doubled since 1992 to 33% in 2004.
  • In Rwanda, the skilled birth attendance rate increased from 39% to 52% from 2005 to 2008.
  • Between 1980 and 2006, the maternal mortality ratio in Tamil Nadu, India, fell from 450 to 90 per 100,000 live births.


  • New HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths have declined significantly in sub-Saharan Africa, thanks to education programmes, prevention policies and the wider availability of anti-retroviral medicines. [LINK to longer story]
  • In Uganda, the adult HIV prevalence rate dropped from 8% in 2001 to 5.4% in 2007.
  • Cambodia has managed to halt and reverse the spread of HIV, with the prevalence falling from 1.8% in 2001 to 0.8% in 2007.
  • The number of new HIV infections among children has declined five-fold in Botswana, from 4,600 in 1999 to 890 in 2007.
  • Reductions of more than 50% in the numbers of reported malaria cases and deaths were observed in 4 high-burden African countries: Eritrea, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, and Zambia, as well as Zanzibar (Tanzania).
  • In Peru, improved TB case detection and cure rates through DOTS (Directly Observed Treatment Short Course) saved an estimated 91,000 lives between 1991 and 2000. TB incidence declined at a rate of 5% per year over 2006-2008.
  • Between 1991 and 2000, improved TB control in China reduced prevalence by over a third.
  • A decade ago, Estonia and Latvia were considered the multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) hot beds of the world, with the highest prevalence of MDR among TB cases ever reported. Thanks to rapidly expanded MDR-TB treatment programmes, the total number of MDR-TB cases per 100,000 population decreased by an average of 6% per year in Estonia and 14% in Latvia, between 2002 and 2007.
  • Between 2006 and 2008 the proportion of TB patients tested for HIV increased from 3% to 77% in Tanzania, from 11% to 68% in Lesotho and from 24% to 81% in Mozambique.
  • In Malawi, 53% of tuberculosis patients detected with HIV infection were put on antiretroviral treatment in 2008.


  • Between 1999 and 2005, Costa Rica prevented the loss of 720 sq km of forests in biodiversity priority areas and avoided the emission of 11 million tons of carbon.
  • In 2006, 80% of the rural population in Ghana had access to an improved drinking water source, an increase of 43% on 1990 levels.
  • In Mali, the percentage of the population with at least one point of access to improved sanitation rose from 35% in 1990 to 45% in 2006.Guatemala has increased its investment in water and sanitation resources, which contributed to an increase in access to improved drinking water from 79% in 1990 to 96% in 2006 and to improved sanitation from 70% in 1990 to 84% in 2006.
  • South Africa successfully achieved the MDG target of halving the proportion of people lacking access to safe water, as lack of access to improved drinking water was reduced from 19% in 1990 to 7% in 2006
  • In Senegal, the proportion of people living in cities with access to improved water reached 93% in 2006.


  • In 2008 the only countries to have reached or exceeded the target of official development assistance as 0.7% of Gross National Income were Denmark, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.
  • China, India, Iran and Uzbekistan succeeded in lowering private sector prices for generic medicines to less than twice the international reference price.

Source: United Nations


Entry filed under: MDGs, Overseas aid. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Making Trade Work for Development The failure of Development Education

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Roving Bandit  |  22/08/2010 at 6:25 pm

    Listing improvements in social indicators in developing countries DOES NOT imply that these improvements were caused by aid.

  • 2. son gyoh  |  28/08/2010 at 10:59 pm

    Quite rightly it will be rather misleading to suggest that these catalogue of milestones are MDG driven when much of the listed gains are out of the remit of MDG intervention even if they relates to the 8 goals. The land use act in Tanzania is one example.
    Aid has its place in both long term and short term development but the focus sofar has been on humanitarian relief AID and not sustainability. The mosquito reduction programmme is a case in hand. The focus on supply of nets than sanitation and waste management that cut across other sectors of human development should have been the long term agenda. For how long will the net supply continue when it cost €8 for one bed?

    These nets need to be replaced everso often and the 80% coverage is an absolute mirage


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