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Foreign Aid Failing To Reach World's Poor Due To Lack Of Oversight, Inefficiencies

“About $40 billion in global foreign aid may be wasted each year — failing to reach the poor people of the world — due to inefficient, political and nationalistic obstacles set up by aid donors, top aid officials have admitted,” Ben Barber, who has written about the developing world since 1980, reports in this Kansas City Star commentary. “‘There are some estimates that we may be wasting 30 percent of the $130 billion in foreign aid each year’ spent by all donor nations, said Brian J. Atwood, former administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)” and current head of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC), a group of aid donors based in Paris that is part of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Barber writes.

“Atwood helped organize a meeting in Busan, South Korea in December of the rich donor countries to try and coordinate and improve aid,” Barber notes. “The Busan forum on aid effectiveness in December was a mega meeting with the U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, [U.S. Secretary of State] Hillary Clinton, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah and dozens of aid directors, or heads of state,” he writes and provides a list of major aid reforms sought by the DAC. “Foreign aid has grown into a vast, unregulated industry in which more than a million workers spend $130 billion donated by the United States, Europe, Japan and the World Bank,” he continues, adding, “Yet there is too little oversight of all this cash, personnel and investment” (5/20).