Question 8

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Given Lant’s arguments, are most international relief and development organizations (from Save the Children, World Vision, CARE International, etc.) “kinky” organizations – using large amount of funds for inconsequential “tweaks” and “twists” until real development occurs?

Lant: From my perspective, kind of. There is a difference between mitigating the worse consequences of the lack of development, and promoting national development. I would not characterize the mitigation efforts as “inconsequential” as they can do some good. My major concern is not that these organizations are a “waste”—as potentially they can do the kinky things that are highly beneficial to those reached–but only that they not be perceived as the long-term solution to poverty (or health or education, etc.). I worry (as I have written here) than the rich countries would like to move away from a commitment to national development to just doing the kinky, as a way of minimizing their development engagement.

Editors: There is a great diversity of development organizations, and it is difficult to generalize. Some work for structural change, but they often have less visibility than others, in part because they do not measure their impacts in terms of indicators, and their impacts – diffuse, retroactive, and long-term – are difficult to measure.