Can aid do more harm than good? When Niger’s president last year accused aid agencies of exaggerating his country’s food crisis for their own gain, Western media reacted with shock. How dare he msf programmes around the world the hand that feeds his people, commentators asked. Many suggested the president was making excuses for the failings of his own government.
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But according to some leading aid experts, Mamadou Tandja had a point. I think NGOs and rich country media do have an incentive to paint too simplistic and bleak a picture, as was the case in Niger’s food crisis,” Professor William Easterly of New York University told the BBC News website. What Niger experienced in 2005 was not a sudden catastrophe, but chronic malnutrition that makes people vulnerable to rises in food prices. My concern about this is you either have an aid bonanza or you have nothing.