Small Clarification - Doing Good Better

post by Hira Khan · 2022-08-05T20:52:34.314Z · EA · GW · 1 comments

This is a question post.

Hi! Im reading Doing Good Better and came across an response to a critic of aid in Africa for anti-malaria/HIV. She claims "the West spent $2.3 trillion on foreign aid over the last five decades and still had not managed to get twelve-cent medicines to
children to prevent half of all malaria deaths. The West spent $2.3 trillion
and still had not managed to get six-dollar bed nets to poor families. The
West spent $2.3 trillion and had still not managed to get three dollars to
each new mother to prevent five million child deaths.” 

Ok, so the treatments for these things are really cheap. Then MacAskill does the math and says 

"Over sixty years of aid spending, $1 trillion is slightly less than $17 billionper year. Divided by 412 million people—the average population of sub-
Saharan Africa during that time period—that’s only forty dollars per recipient per year. When we take into account the fact that the $1 trillion in
aid spending must be divided among a very large number of people over
many decades, we see that the amount of aid spent per recipient is very
small indeed." 

If we are spending $40 per person for these conditions that take like cents or dollars to treat, then isn't the amount of aid spent way proportionate to treatment cost? then why are these issues still existing?
 

Answers

answer by Kaleem · 2022-08-05T21:52:44.010Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

two responses:

  1. They still exist because although spending is at $40 per person, the proportion of the $40 that reaches each person is minuscule because of corruption and systemic inefficiency

  2. The $40 per person is being spent on net-zero effect interventions, rather than effective interventions delivered by effective organisations

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