28 Feb Money to the People
Henry Jackelen and Jamie Zimmerman, Slate
Earlier this year, the $21.7 billion Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria was forced to retract or suspend millions of dollars in aid after rampant corruption was discovered. An audit of a modest portion of selected programs found staggering percentages of money misspent or unaccounted for: 67 percent in Mauritania; 36 percent in Mali; and 30 percent in Djibouti. There were also serious concerns involving millions of dollars sent to Zambia. Even more remarkable, though, was the fund’s response to the resulting criticism.
“The messenger is being shot,” Jon Liden, the fund’s spokesman, said. “We would contend that we do not have any corruption problems that are significantly different in scale or nature to any other international financing institution.” It was a remarkably candid statement, one that mirrors the standard criticisms of foreign aid as being needlessly wasteful. Regardless of the hyperbolic attacks on international aid, even the staunchest advocates recognize that it doesn’t deliver the proper bang for its buck.