x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Don't lose hope on beating poverty, economist tells majlis

An audience at the Crown Prince's majlis is told that donors should not be discouraged by continued poverty.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed, the Deputy Prime Minister (third left), and Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, the Interior Minister (fifth left), with other attendees at the lecture.
Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed, the Deputy Prime Minister (third left), and Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, the Interior Minister (fifth left), with other attendees at the lecture.

ABU DHABI // Aid will not end poverty tomorrow, a development economist told the Crown Prince's majlis this week.

Dr Abhijit Banerjee, a research affiliate of Innovations for Poverty Action, an aid think tank, told an audience at the majlis of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, that donors should not be discouraged by continued poverty.

He said donors need to be educated to not ask simply whether aid can end poverty, but to look at the bigger picture of what it has achieved so far. "Can aid solve poverty, well it has not yet ... but the whole conversation is wrong," he said. "Be grateful what it has achieved. Poverty will not be solved tomorrow."

He said this very reason has led to some losing hope.

He said research had shown that people gave more when they thought they were helping individuals. "People are more likely to give aid to one person, but believe they can't help a big problem," he said.

He agreed with a member of the audience that people have started to get "bored" with aid campaigns. He said it all came back down to making too many promises and not delivering.

He said donors needed to contribute wisdom and insight as well as money. He said people did not just want food, but a life.

As for whom to donate to, that was a personal decision.

"It depends on what you believe - it is not a call I can make for you. Everyone has different values."

osalem@thenational.ae