Foreign aid is failing fast - but it’s not too late to fix

Added: 05-28-2019

The article, written by Oxfam’s executive director Winnie Byanyima, reviews recent shortcomings in the foreign aid industry. Although inequality is growing, the climate is changing, and conflicts abound; foreign aid payments are stagnating. The author appeals for societies to stand together and ensure protection of the vulnerable.

United Nations (UN) non-governmental organizations (NGO) movement aid problem problem-solving interest Oxfam The Guardian foreign aid

Type Reading Time Author Date Source
article 5 minutes WINNIE BYANYIMA 12-01-2016
Type Reading Time
article 5 minutes
Author Date
winnie byanyima 2019-05-28 00:00:00 UTC
Image by truthseeker08 from pixabay giving 1826706 1920
Key Takeaways
  • Poverty has fallen tremendously in the past 20 years, but today’s crises require more resources to provide solutions, while at the same time aid flows are stagnating. 
  • Donors have promised more effective collaboration with governments but are yet to fulfill their promises. 
  • Civil society organizations are the key to organizing societies, providing a counterweight to donors, and, therefore, should be strengthened.


Problems and challenges of a global scope are seemingly omnipresent. According to Oxfam’s executive director Winnie Byanyima, inequality, climate change and conflict are troubling millions, but are only met with nationalism, closed borders and hatred. Byanyima argues that development cooperation is inextricably linked to peace, prosperity and human rights while undermining xenophobia. In the past 20 years, Chinese growth and the United Nations’ (UN) development goals have led to a drastic reduction in global poverty. Conversely, the momentum is shifting. Foreign aid funds are stagnating, and aid is delivered in lower quantity and quality. Typically, the author argues, aid should “lift people sustainably out of poverty and strengthen countries ability to lead their own development.”

Various summits have brought together donor and recipient countries with the aim of strengthening institutions and providing aid recipients with more leeway in decision-making. Still, however, aid bypasses a large part of the state, and funds are still tied to conditions. Byanyima deems transparency for recipients as a key to planning since knowing how much and when they will receive resources helps countries in their budgeting efforts. The author believes that non-governmental organization (NGOs), rights groups, women’s movements, and unions serve the purposes of organizing society and holding donors accountable, although many countries restrict freedoms in the civic space. 

As a bottom line, Bianyima calls for a change of course so that the poor and vulnerable have a shot at prosperity.