Mosquito net makers
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There’s a mosquito net maker in Africa. He manufactures around 500 nets a week. He employs ten people, who (as with many African countries) each have to support upwards of fifteen relatives. However hard they work, they can’t make enough nets to combat the malaria-carrying mosquito.
Enter vociferous Hollywood movie star who rallies the masses, and goads Western governments to collect and send 100,000 mosquito nets to the afflicted region, at a cost of a million dollars. The nets arrive, the nets are distributed, and a ‘good’ deed is done. (Moyo, Dambisa. 2009. Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There is Another Way for Africa, London: Allen Lane, p. 44).
This is how Moyo continues her storyWith the market flooded with foreign nets, however, our mosquito net maker is promptly put out of business. His ten workers can no longer support their 150 dependants (who are now forced to depend on handouts), and one mustn’t forget that in a maximum of five years the majority of the imported nets will be torn, damaged and of no further use.
This is the micro-macro paradox. A short-term efficacious intervention may have few discernible, sustainable long-term benefits. Worse still, it can unintentionally undermine whatever fragile chance for sustainable development may already be in play. Certainly when viewed in close-up, aid appears to have worked. But viewed in its entirety it is obvious that the overall situation has not improved, and is indeed worse in the long run. (Moyo, Dambisa. 2009. Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There is Another Way for Africa, London: Allen Lane, p. 44)
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