DESPITE GOOD INTENTIONS:
Why Development Assistance to the Third World Has Failed
Thomas W. Dichter
320 pages (University of Massachusetts Press, 2003)
The best service we development professionals can now render to developing countries is for most of us to fade away quietly and allow the era of externally provided development assistance to come to a close,” argues Thomas Dichter. A former consultant to USAID, Dichter argues for eliminating virtually all international development assistance other than humanitarian and emergency relief. Interweaving analysis with vignettes of development projects, he argues that development aid has failed to produce results. Even more alarming, he claims that development organizations are absorbed in their own interests. He cites the speed with which they shifted their focus in the early 1990s from Africa to the then-fashionable newly independent Eastern Europe as a sign of how this “development industry” is driven by publicity, funding, and prestige. Dichter’s argument is well-developed and passionately argued, but does this mean the right answer is to pack the bags, go home, and leave third world countries to develop internally through the free market?