Global Development Institute Blog

We are pleased to announce Why We Lie About Aid, a book by Dr Pablo Yanguas research fellow with the Effective States and Inclusive Development Research Centre, is to be published on 15 February.

  • You can pre-order your copy here.

Foreign aid is about charity. International development is about technical fixes. At least that is what we, as donor publics, are constantly told. The result is a highly dysfunctional aid system which mistakes short-term results for long-term transformation and gets attacked across the political spectrum, with the right claiming we spend too much, and the left that we don’t spend enough.

The reality, as Yanguas argues in this highly provocative book, is that aid isn’t – or at least shouldn’t be – about levels of spending, nor interventions shackled to vague notions of ‘accountability’ and ‘ownership’. Instead, a different approach is possible, one that acknowledges aid as being about struggle, about taking sides, about politics. It is an approach that has been quietly applied by innovative development practitioners around the world, providing political coverage for local reformers to open up spaces for change. Drawing on a variety of convention-defying stories from a variety of countries – from Britain to the US, Sierra Leone to Honduras – Yanguas provides an eye-opening account of what we really mean when we talk about aid.

The book has already had excellent reviews from David Booth and Nicolas van de Walle.

‘One of the most exciting books about development aid in many years: original and timely, closely argued and evidenced, and beautifully written.’ 

David Booth, Overseas Development Institute

‘Elegantly written and passionately argued, Yanguas has provided us with an authoritative guide to current debates within the aid business, and, more importantly, to the crucial political struggles that have always defined the development process.’ 

Nicolas van de Walle, Cornell University


Find out more about our recent podcast with Pablo, where he discusses the book.

Picture: Russell Watkins/Department for International Development



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