“Aid, power and plague: Lessons from history and practice on foreign aid responses,”

Event time: 
Friday, October 30, 2020 - 10:00am
Online Virtual Event See map
Event description: 

How should the West approach giving aid to developing countries in the time of Covid-19 and climate change? These crises cross borders and spark political turmoil in rich and poor countries alike. Can one country in crisis effectively assist another, and should that aid be tied to policy changes?

A close look at the history of official development assistance to South Asian countries over the last century shows that aid often had as much to do with the political aims of the donor countries as the development goals of the recipients. More recently, the tendency to align political and development goals found literal expression in the UK: the government announced in June, 2020 that it would merge the Foreign Office and the Department for International Development. In the meantime, private philanthropic organizations have taken a larger role in international development, with some giving yearly contributions greater than the aid budgets of many countries. Given the chaotic nature of politics during a pandemic, many development experts argue that sending cash payments directly to poor citizens is the best way to avoid relief becoming a tool of geopolitical power.


  • David Engerman, Leitner International Interdisciplinary Professor of History at Yale University
  • Rohini Pande, the Henry J. Heinz II Professor of Economics and Director of the Economic Growth Center at Yale
  • Rory Stewart, former Member of Parliament and Secretary of State for International Development in the UK
  • Catherine Cheney, Moderator (‘08 MA ‘10), Senior Reporter for Devex, covering the West Coast of the U.S., focusing on the role of technology, innovation, and philanthropy in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals

Free but register in advance at THIS LINK.

This event is part of a series cosponsored by the Economic Growth Center, the MacMillan Center, and the South Asian Studies Council at Yale University.