Development – Aid

More Economically Developed Countries (MEDCs) have high levels of economic development compared with Less Economically Developed Countries (LEDCs). Many MEDCs make allowance in their domestic budgets to provide aid to LEDCs. Many charities also exist to provide aid to LEDCs.

Types of aid

  • Emergency or short-term aid – needed after sudden disasters such as the 2000 Mozambique floods or the 2004 Asian tsunami.
  • Conditional or tied aid – when one country donates money or resources to another (bilateral aid) but with conditions attached. These conditions will often be in the MEDC’s favour, eg the controversial Pergau Dam project in Malaysia, where Britain used aid to secure trade deals with Malaysia.
  • Charitable aid – funded by donations from the public through organisations such as OXFAM.
  • Long-term or development aid – involves providing local communities with education and skills for sustainable development, usually through organisations such as Practical Action.
  • Multilateral aid – given through international organisations such as the World Bank rather than by one specific country.

Advantages and disadvantages of aid

Food aid in Ethiopia

              Food aid in Ethiopia

Sometimes, aid can bring long-term problems as well as advantages to the recipient country. The table gives some of the arguments for and against the provision of aid to LEDCs.

Arguments for and against giving aid

For Against

Emergency aid in times of disaster saves lives.

Aid can increase the dependency of LEDCs on donor countries. Sometimes aid is not a gift, but a loan, and poor countries may struggle to repay.

Aid helps rebuild livelihoods and housing after a disaster.

Aid may not reach the people who need it most. Corruption may lead to local politicians using aid for their own means or for political gain.

Provision of medical training,medicines and equipment can improve health and standards of living.

Aid can be used to put political or economic pressure on the receiving country. The country may end up owing a donor country or organisation a favour.

Aid for agriculture can help increase food production and so improve the quality and quantity of food available.

Sometimes projects do not benefit smaller farmers and projects are often large scale.

Encouraging aid industrial development can create jobs and improve transport infrastructure.

Infrastructure projects may end upbenefiting employers more than employees.

Aid can support countries in developing their natural resources and power supplies.

It may be a condition of the investment that the projects are run by foreign companiesor that a proportion of the resources or profits will be sent abroad.

Projects that develop clean water and sanitation can lead to improved health and living standards.

Some development projects may lead to food and water costing more.

Case study: Practical Action shelter project

One fifth of the world’s population are either homeless or live in poor housing, mainly in LEDCs.

Homeless people in LEDCs often build makeshift shelters in shanty towns. These are often built on land not fit for development such as steep slopes or marshland which is vulnerable to floods and landslides.

Practical Action is a charity which helps communities to learn the skills they need to build better quality housing using their own labour, local resources and traditional techniques.

Practical Action has succeeded in changing government policy on housing in Kenya. Now, local authorities recognise houses that have been made from inexpensive materials as proper dwellings.

Practical Action also aim to improve basic services and infrastructure. As local people have been consulted from the outset, they can apply their skills in continuing to improve their surroundings. Their involvement has also given them a sense of ownership and responsibility.

Practical Action also has shelter programmes in other countries including Zimbabwe and Peru.

Their work is an example of sustainable development – a development which minimises damage to the environment or local resources.


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