Road accidents claim the life of Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem, and another 1.3 million people this year

June 2, 2009

Putting the history back into economics: good new book from the FT’s Alan Beattie

June 2, 2009

Dambisa Moyo goes stellar – why? Some reviews by fellow Africans and others, including me

June 2, 2009
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The Dambisa Moyo phenomenon shows no signs of abating, with a front page story in the FT and an elevation this month to Time Magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people. The publicity is also selling a lot of books – she’s currently 3rd in Amazon US sales rankings for books on ‘policy and current events’ (no sour grapes there, honest….).

So with heavy heart, it’s time to add my tuppence. Every time I say anything unkind about her book, Dead Aid, I get a volley of abuse about being a white imperialist male unwilling to surrender the intoxicating power conferred by being a paid up member of the ‘aid industry’ (n.b. I’m being sarcastic, OK?). So just in case you’re naïve enough to think the continent speaks with one (Moyoesque) voice, here is a review by Chikondi Mpokosa, from Malawi, about her disappointment with the book. Chikondi is Oxfam’s Global Education Adviser, so cynics might argue that she is not neutral but a) Moyo’s main objection is to official government to government aid, not the NGO type, b) Chikondi sees lots of problems with traditional aid and c) Moyo previously worked for Goldman Sachs and the World Bank, which also seems to have shaped her views somewhat (see below). For a more academic review by a fellow Zambian economist, see here, and Sudanese-born telecoms magnate and philanthropist Mo Ibrahim has also weighed in in the Financial Times – an entire FT online debate on ‘Is Aid Working’ can be found here.

As for the book, Moyo’s critique of ‘old aid’ rings the occasional bell with me (e.g. its potential to undermine domestic politics and the state-citizen social contract), but overall, it has been taken to task by Kevin Watkins and Owen Barder among others for highly selective use of the evidence (even by NGO standards…) and dodgy attribution of causality (she argues that since poor countries receive lots of aid, aid must be to blame for their plight, but as Kevin points out, ‘using her logic, you could argue that fire engines cause fires because you find them near burning houses’ – see cartoon.) The BBC Hardtalk programme also had a good televised head to head with Alison Evans, the new director of the Overseas Development Institute.

But it is Dead Aid’s purported alternatives to aid that seem particularly feeble: African governments should issue lots of bonds (not too many takers at the moment – bad luck on the timing there); trust in China (and thus get stuck in commodity dependence, let alone the human rights issues); rich countries should remove barriers to trade (fine, but it won’t make much difference except in a few particular products like cotton) and invest in infrastructure (does anyone disagree with that?) and access to microfinance needs to be increased (sure, but it’s not even close to a magic bullet).

What is most noticeable is what’s missing – the book claims to be about finding better ways to finance development, but she barely mentions taxation or redistribution. Maybe it’s that Goldman Sachs/Zambian elite thing coming through again.

Overall, I was intrigued by Moyo’s politics/ideology. She manages to combine an entirely understandable resentment to the patronizing ways of aid donors and their crass portrayal of her continent (in Tony Blair’s awful soundbite) as ‘a scar on the conscience of the world’, an uncritical celebration of the rise of Chinese and Indian influence in Africa, and a highly conventional international financier’s assumption that free capital markets will solve every problem. A kind of third worldist neoliberalism, or right wing version of the old ‘aid as imperialism’ line.

But if the book itself is so flawed, that makes its phenomenal success all the more intriguing. It’s clearly hit some kind of chord with leaders like Rwanda’s Paul Kagame and other Africans who are sick of being lectured to by western aid donors and rock stars; aid sceptics like Bill Easterly can’t believe their luck (see increasingly acrimonious spat between him and Jeff Sachs), and of course any decent journalist relishes a good ‘man bites dog‘ story. But the danger is that it will provide useful cover to cash-strapped rich country governments seeking to backtrack on their aid promises, who can now say ‘see, Africans say that aid doesn’t work, so let’s cut the budget’. As for those who disagree with her analysis, (and who in my opinion have rather more evidence on their side) it’s almost impossible to avoid sounding either defensive or self interested (this post is probably no exception). What to do to get the debate onto more sensible ground – the very pressing issue of what kinds of aid work, and what don’t, and how to reform it? The danger is, Moyo’s work will actually squeeze out that discussion. Any suggestions? (I may regret this…)

24 comments

  1. I think it’s a bad manifestation of good sign. People are hungry for authentic voices, and they want to see aid governed by the people who will use it. Those are good impulses; I just they had seized on a more well-reasoned voice.

  2. I agree with Alanna partly. People in donor countries are increasingly interested in aid and how it does or doesn’t work. Moyo’s book (haven’t read it) maybe strikes a nerve with an increasingly questioning public.

    Otherwise, I’m disappointed if not surprised that you feel the need to present Africans who disagree with Moyo. Bono’s One tried this, much to their embarrassment. While origins are undoubtedly an issue in such debates, identity is more complex than being African or not. So are these issues

  3. Couldn’t agree more, Peter. I don’t like presenting ‘African’s’ views on Moyo (and to be fair, I also include pro-voices like Kagame. But it would be hard to argue that her African-ness has not contributed to her success, so showing the plurality of voices from Africa (on aid as on most other things) is a necessary corrective to the more crass end of the debate, I think.
    bw
    Duncan

  4. Further to the issue of ‘African’ voices: I think Africanness is overrated anyway: Africa is a rather big place. What does a Zambian have in common with, let’s say, a Moroccan Berber, apart from living in the same continent? Or an Egyptian with an Angolan?

  5. Oxfam GB does indeed receive a good deal of money from both DFID and the European Union, Carlos. It’s all in our annual report and accounts for those who are curious. But in our defence, Moyo makes it clear from the outset that her criticism is aimed not at NGOs or emergency aid, but at large scale government to government bilateral aid, so I think our disagreement with her analysis cannot really be put down to self interest!

  6. I’d just add that it’s not just governments that might use this as an excuse to cut aid. I already speak to plenty of ordinary people in Britain who think that aid to sub-Saharan Africa is a waste of time. As you say, Dambisa Moyo is not attacking NGOs, yet her arguments about bilateral aid could well end up having the effect of reinforcing the view that all international development work is misguided. (After all, like myself, plenty of the people weighing in on this won’t have read the book!)

  7. First, I should thank you for such a well written commentary.

    Second, I think it is important to clarify the kind of support Moyo has gotten from Africans. Let us just say its home ground support. Many do not support all of her ideas but are simply glad someone with black skin has broken in on this debate dominated by “mzungus” (no disrespect). The unfortunate thing though is that many Africans have not read her book and hardly understand the issues surrounding it (its a very complicated and simplistic read all at the same time)-if they had, they would think differently-believe me.

    You asked for alternative. Here are a few that have worked.

    First, developing is a question of human capital. Evidence from China and India have shown us that. African immigrants are the most educated demographic in the U.S today. Maybe some of these people should be coming home.

    Second, economic integration is very important for the development process. It is one thing to be able to set up a business, it is another thing to sell. Africas market of over 800 million people will create unimaginable markets for Africa.

    Third, domestically sourced capital. In my estimation, (with which economists like Moyo would disagree) for every $1 that comes into Africa, $16 goes out whether it is through corruption, capital flight etc. This is why domestically sourced funding is so important. Hana De Soto has probably argued this most clearly- poor people and countries are not as poor as you think. So how do you go about this? You must first enable people to accumulate savings and investment (here is where micro credit has absolutely failed Africa-I could always explain why later). Second, you must encourage this efforts by allowing them to finance their development. Public private patnerships in building roads in return for economic concessions are a creative way of funding development which a returning diaspora would jump on. The idea is, if something makes money for American and Chinese businessmen, why not African business men who would re-invest the profits in the same country (think of all the multiplier effects we could be talking here).

    There is a lot more creative ways of tackling poverty and underdevelopment in Africa. Infact, I think development economists emphasis on reforming institutions is misplaced because even if you reform the institutions, who will man them. It looks at the question from the bottom. The first thing we should focus on is human and cultural capital. How do you make Africans proud to be African amids the many travails. How do you make them commited to the cause of a better Africa. Second how do you recruit their immense human resources in making this a reality? These are the questions that will turn around Africa.

    Finally, I think as much of a help as foreigners everywhere have tried to be, they must realise the limits of their effort. Aid will not turn Africa around (even though it is needed to sustain them-we cannot develop dead people). Neither will any half assed analysis about institutional reform – you are just attempting to understand poverty for yourselves out here in the west because most African knows these things.
    Solving poverty in Africa can only be done by Africans for Africans with the active co-operation of Africans.

  8. Fisrtly- thanks Duncan- for writing your reflection on this book and its conclusions.Do continue to do so.

    I do not grudge the fame or fortune for Ms Moyo- others get the same for wrting useless things too.

    I also liked Kevin Watkins response.

    There is always a danger that populist writing such as the above can be very damaging to the work we all do.

    Public money for whatever use is always open to abuse – take the case of dear MPs here. This does not mean that there are no good MPs and that they are not doing any good work- i feel sorry for the good ones but see the way the discourse has ended or ending.

    While Ms Moya has right and as much we need many voices we need to take them on board but not go without sunstantially challenging such unrobust writing and flimsy conclusions.

  9. For those who have not read the book let me say with confidence that it really is not worth it. If you want to be motivated to condemn and act to end the Aid industry re-read “Lords of Poverty” by Graham Hancock. Moyo’s lack of effort to make any causal links between ‘evidence’ and the conclusions she draws really don’t do justice to what should be a serious debate.

    Much of her arguments are characterized by generalizations, not to mention poor referencing. On page 59 she refers to a rebel leader in Sierra Leone demanding control of diamond mining interests in order to join a peace process as an example of aid fermenting conflict. Does she really see diamond mining as part of the aid industry?

    Another example is her use of just one survey from 1980 (Pg 74) to support her assertion that people and donors are tiring of aid. Almost incidental given how old the survey is she does not state whether “cut” means to stop or reduce Aid. An important difference given her own argument for stopping all Aid

    Some of it is amusing like her statement: “Yet in a world of good governance, which will naturally emerge in the absence of the glut of aid, the cost (risk) of doing business in Africa will be lower” (pg 143). Of course Moyo also feels no need to mention corruption in the arms industry or other sectors like financial services or explain why it is that corruption and bad governance have often flourished, rather than “naturally” disappearing, in countries with no aid.

    I also thought it was great how Moyo promotes the issuing of bonds in part with arguments about the lucrative returns investors can get: “experienced portfolio managers can make significant returns, averaging 25-30 per cent per annum” (pg80). These kind of returns may be great for some young traders in London and New York, perhaps friends of Moyo’s, it surely can’t be good though for African government’s and countries that will be paying for it.

    Moyo must be given credit though for generating so much debate (not to mention so many book sales) with such a poor piece of work. It is also easy to be critical of this book, but the core challenge Moyo points to – moving to a future beyond aid – is essential and not so easy.

  10. Dambisa Moyo was invited to Kigali by Paul Kagame just after budget support to Rwanda was cut because of a UN report implicating it
    (again) in the war in Kivu. The debate on “dead aid” is just a symptom of the enormous shift that is taking place in international politics towards more emphasis on democratic development.

  11. In addition to what was said by Iyinoluwa Aboyeji ,i just wish aid would focus on the human capital, education is what africa lacks the most.
    If aid would focus on encouraging exchange programs between the west and Africa the effect would be immense , i see women sitting by the road side with baskets of tomatoes going rotten , sundried tomatoes would solve the waste the same goes for mango chutney onion jam ,cured ham ,cheese , wind mills , cotton gins , i hope you get the picture . These things while simple to do are not being done increasing the burden of the poor .
    Education by the missionaries is what developed Africans to the level they are now and as we all know its a continuous process you must remain open , if knowledge is not being refreshed from outside it will stagnate and then start to deteriorate ,a process which is well advanced in my country Nigeria where you find teachers that can barely read or write and university degrees not worth the paper they are badly written on .

    I see vast tracts of land uncultivated , waterborne disease rampant in villages where they haven’t figured out how to dig wells or simple sanitation , people with no hope for they have no education .

    Education should be the driving force behind all aid .
    Healthcare is good but unfortunately if it is not partnered with education it is short term and places a burden on other resource.
    infrastructure is good but if it is not partnered with education its just a conduit for corruption and asset stripping ,how hard is it to build a road just teach us and we will build what we need when we need it.
    If the west want to help then they should help us be more like them ,ie educated .
    Btw i couldn’t agree more with Michael Keizer ,could we be more specific when we talk about Africa i for one mean Nigeria when i say Africa .

  12. Trust China? Fat chance! As China and India dance with giants, they’ll look to Africa for resources. Dubious African leaders, unaccountable to their people, will play the West against the East as it suits them. Remember the Cold War?

    What Africa needs is freedom (a la Amartya Sen) to develop. Freedom from socioeconomic and political servitude matters. But that requires capital: human and financial. Human capital to run a competent, honest and service-centered government. And financial capital to rustle up infrastructure: electricity, roads, hospitals and schools (quality and quantity). Dead capital, like land, needs to be turned into live capital to spur enterprises.

    A tall order: Africa’s capital is abroad. Either as fleeced state funds or Diasporans sending remittances that trump foreign aid. The capital at home eg, land, is in a latch. Trapped under archaic laws that give the state sole rights. Farming and mining benefit too few. When trouble brews it’s over how natural resources are being distributed.

    When strife is too rife at home the best brains leave. Most stay away (alas the forex they send home is now dwindling). Without human capital, a public service to tax, redistribute and build schools, remains scarce. Hence, private enterprise that can generate taxable wealth also starves from lack of credit. No property and intellectual rights backed by law, no risks. Meanwhile, income from commodities tides the political elite and their cronies (big men) through.

    Africa needs fewer big men and more institutions, say, independent courts, and corruption-busting units. These will go a long way for starters(see http://tfagbule.wordpress.com/2009/05/23/the-economic-cost-of-corruption/).

  13. Dambisa Moyo deserves credit for saying in black and white what a lot of whites and blacks have been thinking for years – aid methodologies have simply not delivered the kinds of results and impacts that were anticipated in the 1970s, or 2000s for that mater. And there does not appear to be any empirical evidence that the situation is getting better in terms of results and impacts, all highly subsidized UN supported east African villages aside.

    Not only are we far from achieving sustainability. We often appear far from achieving project’s/program’s short-term objectives, let alone longer term sustainability. This likely is due to design flaws addressing institutional and stakeholder representation issues (e.g. the persistent problem of weak stakeholder participation in design leading to dubious objectives and activities.

    Putting that issue aside, a big part of the problem in assessing development aid, whether it is dead, or whether it is worth rehabilitating, lies in incommensurability. There are no common standards (save in the broadest sense) across donors and implementing agencies (be they NGOs or consulting firms) for comparing projects/programs. This leads to an analytical development landscape of apples and oranges. There also is little transparency in results/impacts reporting as a function of taxpayer inputs. We know relatively little, systematically, through either donor agency or NGO reporting on the success/ROI of (a) methods employed (b) results (c) impacts (d) costs/benefits on some form of per unit basis, etc. Thus, we end up with polemical debates like Easterly-Sachs, Moyo-the development world, where in my opinion one finds oneself agreeing with significant portions of each opponent’s arguments, because the argument itself is incommensurable.

    Does Moyo’s evidence merit her proposition that the development baby should be tossed with the fetid waters of 40 years of disappointing results? Is aid itself to blame?

    After 35 years of working in and travelling across 80% of Africa geopolitically from nroth, west, central, east, and southern Africa, along with the Seychelles, Madagascar and Mauritius, it is fuly clear that the development paradigm as practiced does not work. It is clear to me that far from driving development, potential benefiaries remain far on the sidelines. It is also clear that there is little accountability in much of aid, and this may or may not correlate with corruption and other governance problems that keep on repeating themselves.

    While Moyo may be wrong in her solutions as some have suggested, I think her identification of a major problem that few have previously faced, Africans included, is worth the price of her book, which this white American male bought and read.

  14. This is one of the most content-free refutations I’ve seen in recent memory. Six paragraphs of saying absolute nothing and one wedged in the middle that supplies no actual refutation. I’m honestly driven to question whether you read the book at all, or if you just read a synopsis and bulleted a list of canned responses to the central arguments and wrapped them in rhetoric.

    “African governments should issue lots of bonds (not too many takers at the moment – bad luck on the timing there)” – She thoroughly discusses the issues of timing, pre-conditions, strategies and previous successes surrounding the issue of debt issuance. She describes in detail some steps that African leaders can take to make debt issuance a reality, and never once suggests that it could be done immediately and with guaranteed success. It is intellectually dishonest to dismiss this entire thesis with a diagnosis of “bad timing”.

    “…trust in China (and thus get stuck in commodity dependence, let alone the human rights issues)” – Unsurprisingly, she also discusses the issue of commodity dependence and notes several cases where economies have progressed past this stage, in addition to several theories and formulae for achieving that goal. Dropping “human rights issues” in here as a moral blockade to foreign investment and thus economic development in Africa is flagrantly disingenuous. The *current* state of human rights in Africa is, as she notes, abysmal, and has only grown worse over the past half century of development-aid-driven economics. To hold a carrot just out of reach of a starving horde of people while one insists that they must learn to play nicely before they are allowed to eat and grow on their own is positively repugnant; the morality of such a contention is of the lowest possible form. Ms. Moyo recognizes that without sustainable economic growth, there are no human rights to be found. Without the type of infrastructure that facilitates healthy living, it is absurd to assume that one can simply posit the existence of good working conditions and they will be so.

    “…rich countries should remove barriers to trade (fine, but it won’t make much difference except in a few particular products like cotton)” – I’m sure Ms. Moyo and your readers would enjoy some evidence to back up this claim. She goes into significant detail about many exports and various industries that are hampered by trade barriers. To assert that the tangle of countless trade barriers would somehow only affect a single industry or a single export on a continent of a billion people is simply naïve.

    “…access to microfinance needs to be increased (sure, but it’s not even close to a magic bullet)” – She directly argues for and explains the importance of diversification at length, including explicit recommendations for how much microfinance and FDI should factor into the overall financial makeup of a given African country’s economy: “30 per cent from FDI”. She emphatically attests that microfinance is not a “magic bullet” solution.

    I’m sure others would be interested in any actual refutations or facts you have that may contradict Ms. Moyo’s theses, but this review is, as it stands, entirely vacuous and distressingly dishonest.

  15. I think you’re in danger of falling into the same errors that you accuse me of, Brad. You focus on a single para of my post, but I was mainly signposting to a range of critical (and otherwise) commentaries on Moyo’s work, from fellow Africans and others, and adding a few of my own, and thinking more broadly on why a remarkably average book has had such a massive impact. You can find all the refutations you need in the reviews I linked to, especially those in para 3.

  16. Hello Duncan,
    Thanks for the comments on Moyo’s book. However, I find them somewhat bias and unfair, but was quick to expect such to come from a Westerner and someone within the employment of and aid industry.
    Moyo must be given credit for boldly taking on a subject that most Westerners (as well as their African stooges) especially those who get their bread and butter from the aid industry have found very uncomfortable to deal with. As an African, coming from Africa and having worked in East, Southern, West and Central Africa, I find most of her analyses true. Though Moyo is mainly concerned with Government to Government AID, I do think, NGO AID (which Oxfam and other organisations are championing)is failing the African continent dismally. I had the good-fortune of working in the aid industry and my experience is that for the most part, it is some way of getting an excited British or American graduate (with no knowledge of how things operate in the continent) to assist people from the “Dark Continent”. Unfortunately and regrettably, the assumption is always that the money is coming from their governments and that Africa has no competent people! I strongly encourage you to interview Africans whose plight your organisation and other donor agencies purport to solve you would be told that aid agencies are money making schemes and channels for employing nationals of their donor countries.
    You mentioned that there are certain Africans who have taken a different view from Moyo’s. Though I am an advocate of free speech, after reading through the comments of Mo Ibrahim and Chikondi Mpokosa, I got the feeling that envy (probably because Moyo has become famous through a book,something they have not been able to achieve) and the need to be on record for having criticise Moyo propelled them to write such pieces full of repetition and generalisations.I don’t think do your comments any justice.
    I think anyone who has lived in Africa and understands how aid works in the continent will treat Moyo’s book as important in generating a new kind of thinking on the efficacity of aid vis-a-vis other initiatives such as development robust investment friendly environment, developing capital markets, learning from and building partnerships with China and India, respecting the rule of law and fair trade.

  17. Abdul, trust an African to mention envy. Do you purport that Mo Ibrahim is envious of Ms. Moyo? Well that is an interesting assertion and the burden of prove lies on you. I am not sure which aspect of the AID machine you worked in but obviously worked in the wrong part. How can aid be a cause of poverty a situation that existed before the aid. aid came as a response to poverty and may be it has not been the “quick action” solution many expected but it has played it part to ensuring that before people likes Ms. Moyo came around with their “wonderful” hybrid solution between China and capitalism i.e. bonds, the people would still be alive. I live in Africa and I know the good aid does. The issue here is not to cut aid but to move beyond aid and look for complementary solutions to aid.

  18. Hello Duncan,Thanks for the comments on Moyo’s book. However, I find them somewhat bias and unfair, but was quick to expect such to come from a Westerner and someone within the employment of and aid industry.Moyo must be given credit for boldly taking on a subject that most Westerners (as well as their African stooges) especially those who get their bread and butter from the aid industry have found very uncomfortable to deal with. As an African, coming from Africa and having worked in East, Southern, West and Central Africa, I find most of her analyses true. Though Moyo is mainly concerned with Government to Government AID, I do think, NGO AID (which Oxfam and other organisations are championing)is failing the African continent dismally. I had the good-fortune of working in the aid industry and my experience is that for the most part, it is some way of getting an excited British or American graduate (with no knowledge of how things operate in the continent) to assist people from the “Dark Continent”. Unfortunately and regrettably, the assumption is always that the money is coming from their governments and that Africa has no competent people! I strongly encourage you to interview Africans whose plight your organisation and other donor agencies purport to solve you would be told that aid agencies are money making schemes and channels for employing nationals of their donor countries.You mentioned that there are certain Africans who have taken a different view from Moyo’s. Though I am an advocate of free speech, after reading through the comments of Mo Ibrahim and Chikondi Mpokosa, I got the feeling that envy (probably because Moyo has become famous through a book,something they have not been able to achieve) and the need to be on record for having criticise Moyo propelled them to write such pieces full of repetition and generalisations.I don’t think do your comments any justice.I think anyone who has lived in Africa and understands how aid works in the continent will treat Moyo’s book as important in generating a new kind of thinking on the efficacity of aid vis-a-vis other initiatives such as development robust investment friendly environment, developing capital markets, learning from and building partnerships with China and India, respecting the rule of law and fair trade.
    +1
    Duncan: well, apart from pointing out a) that nearly all our staff in Africa are themselves Africans, b) government funding makes up a relatively small part of our overall income and c) Moyo specfically exempts NGOs from her criticisms, I do think that the resonance Moyo’s book has, both with Africans and others, is telling. That’s what my post on her book (http://www.oxfamblogs.org/fp2p/?p=273) was about. As for her arguments, I honestly think they are old, crude and very selective in their use of evidence. And her solutions (African governments should raise finance on the bond market, instead of faid) have been rather overtaken by events! And and that post, written a year ago, said ‘Every time I say anything unkind about her book, Dead Aid, I get a volley of abuse about being a white imperialist male unwilling to surrender the intoxicating power conferred by being a paid up member of the ‘aid industry’’……..

  19. By leading the call to capitalism and self reliance, Dambisa Moyo has done more to further African development in the past 12 months than all others combined in the past 50 years.

    If the Euros were not a bunch of jealous, elitist, Marxists, they would have already given Dr. Moyo the Nobel Peace Prize.

    Right now, Dambisa Moyo is the most enlightened and enlightening leader in the world.

    Like Sarah Palin, the more The Ruling Class ridicules her, the more you know she is right on target and having an impact.

    I wish Dr. Moyo were an American. She’d make a great president… and we are going to need one to get us back on track following our experiment with Marxism.

    For those of us with friends, family and investments in Africa, we now have a champion.

    You damn right Dambisa Moyo is a star.

  20. Thanks for a good summary. Being in the aid business you are indeed not in a great position to criticise her for the reasons you mention.

    However, I am an African economist who : 1. Thinks that the aid industry is seriously flawed in many respects, 2. Thinks Dambisa Moyo’s work is unadulterated crap. What really gets to me is that she is *only* getting the attention she does because she is an `African’ parroting libertarian-style rhetoric. Actually she spent none of her adult life in Zambia, but I suppose being black and vaguely African will do. (I guess that makes Obama Indonesian or something?)

    I have not met a single African with any knowledge of development issues and who is not a free-market ideologue (a la Randell Young above) who thinks her work is worth the paper it’s printed on.

    1. slightly disorienting question, Shupiwe. Objectively, the answer has to be yes – Not least because my ‘Europeanness’ means, among other things, that I write in the main language of blogging, English. It also seems to be an asset in the policy/debate/opinionating part of development – not sure why, as there are lots of non Europeans in senior programme positions in Oxfam. Subjectively, I’m afraid it’s rather hard for me to separate out any ‘me’ from ‘being European’!

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