McGovern: Aid Should be Temporary

Former U.S. Sen. George McGovern, who had just concluded his 10-day trip to Kenya and Uganda to visit World Food Program-run projects, said that aid should be temporary.

His remark may not be a revolutionary idea in foreign aid economics but perhaps a good reminder from a legend of the field, writes Meredith Slater for’s “Global Poverty” blog.

McGovern, who ran for president in 1972, is one of the icons of global food aid. He served as ambassador to United Nations food agencies and managed the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program.

McGovern had written several inspirational stories from his travels and always linked the theme of sustainability in all his collaborations that involved a food aid component.

He argues that one of the most significant tenets of aid is that it should not be permanent. Local communities should be able to take over aid-funded projects.

Slater provides an example to show that this is possible. WFP has already handed over school-meal programs in 20 countries. The end goal of WFP, in this case, is to for the government of recipient countries to take over the food programs.

“If the core mission of all agencies was to eventually become unnecessary, perhaps the field of aid would be much more successful at what it does.” she adds.

About the author

  • Chiden Balmes

    Chiden, a correspondent based in Seoul, focuses on computer-assisted reporting to provide international development professionals with practical business and career information. He also contributes to the Development Newswire and the Global Development Briefing, two of the world's highest-circulation development publications.