Why Cutting Aid Spending in Difficult Economic Times is 'Short-Sighted'

The international aid architecture needs reforms, but changes should not include donors scaling back the amount of aid they provide to developing countries, a development expert notes.

Cutting aid spending in difficult economic circumstances is “short-sighted,” Jonathan Glennie, a research fellow at the U.K.-based Overseas Development Institute, argues in the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters” blog.

“In times of prosperity, rich nations demonstrate largesse in both mind and wallet to the struggling countries in our world,” Glennie notes. “But hit with a recession, they are tempted to allow their vision to narrow. That would be a mistake now, as it has been in history.”

Glennie said there are two fundamental reasons why donors should keep, if not increase, their aid spending at current levels. The first reason, he says, is that providing aid to poor countries is morally right.

“Giving in times of plenty is charity. But to give in hard times, because you know that others are suffering more than you, is solidarity,” Glennie writes.

The second reason is that giving aid during troubled economic times is in donors’ interests.

“It is no longer sensible to separate our national interest so rigidly from our global interest,” Glennie explains. “The well-being of those close to home also depends on a well functioning global polity, based on sound judgments, some kind of rule of law and structures that offer security and economic stability.”

About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.