‘Orphan Aid’: Review of WWLAA in El País

I have long been very curious about foreign aid in Spain. Though virtually all my academic and professional exchanges about aid have happened in the DFID ecosystem, with brief stops in the World Bank, a lot of my foundational biases about the aid system and the ethos of development cooperation come from Spain. That is why I tried really hard to add a sliver of the Spanish aid experience to Why We Lie About Aid.

I hoped that some people back there would find the book interesting, a new tool in their ongoing struggle to improve Spain’s aid system. So I decided to send a few copies to the old country, including to Gonzalo Fanjul, one of the most passionate and articulate Spanish voices on humanitarianism and aid. Yesterday he published a post/review of the book in his 3500 Millones blog for major left-of-centre newspaper El País, under the apt title “Orphan aid“.

I thought that it was worth translating a few bits here, for the sake of perspective:

It is still hard to predict what will come after these dark years of involution and isolationism in the donor community, but what has become clear is that aid as we know it is bound to disappear. …

Who, then, will stand up for aid? Spanish development policy is doubly hampered by a government that does not believe in it and by a society incapable of showing interest. The last two rounds of budget negotiations – under economic recovery – have demonstrated the profound orphanhood of development cooperation, which hinders any attempt to build a broad majority that can protect it in Parliament. …

Now that we may be facing new elections, it is in Spain’s interest but also its moral duty to have this conversation, and this book may help launch it.