Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Unconditional cash transfers

Laura Freschi at Aid Watch makes the case for unconditional cash transfers. While I do not believe the poor always make good decisions with their money, I agree they are probably more likely to know what to do with it than an NGO worker that recently arrived on the scene.

For instance, a few years ago NGOs in northern Uganda were handing out free anti-bacterial soap to IDPs. They cost about $2 each bar. When I went to a small shop in one of the camps, I found a bunch of the bars on sale for less than $1. People had been selling the bars to the shops for (of course) less than that because they did not value the soap as much as what they could get with the small money from selling them. The NGOs had the needs of the people wrong.

Of course, there's no way to tell how much of the soap money made it to the local alcohol brewers ...

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