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UNU-WIDER WP/2012/61 Foreign Aid in Dangerous Places: The donors and Mali’s democracy

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A teenager wears torn rubber boots in a muddy local market in Bac Ha, Viet Nam. As of 2005 figures, half the world population—more than 3 billion people–is estimated to live on less than USD 2.50 a day. Bac Ha, Viet Nam. UN Photo/Kibae Park.

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WP/061 Foreign Aid in Dangerous Places: The donors and Mali’s democracy

Mali long seemed a model, low-income democracy. Yet, in a few short weeks in early 2012, more than half of the territory came under the military control of an Islamist secessionist movement, and a military coup deposed the democratically-elected government in the capital. Given the substantial amount of foreign aid received by the democratic regime in the years before these events, this paper asks whether or not foreign aid could have done more to prevent the present outcomes. The paper concludes that it is very difficult to make such an assessment. On the one hand, aid can be credited for helping strengthen key elements of vertical accountability that are necessary for democracy. On the other hand, aid was not very successful at reducing several of the underlying, structural constraints that were to prove the country’s undoing in 2012.
WIDER Working Paper
WP/061 Foreign Aid in Dangerous Places: The donors and Mali’s democracy
Nicolas van de Walle
Publication date:
July 2012
ISBN 13 Web:
Copyright holder:
Copyright year:
Mali, democracy, foreign aid, military coup, inequality
D72, D74, F35, N47
UNU-WIDER gratefully acknowledges specific programme contributions from the governments of Denmark (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Danida) and Sweden (Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, Sida) for the Research and Communication (ReCom) programme. UNU-WIDER also acknowledges core financial support to UNU-WIDER’s work programme from the governments of Finland (Ministry of Foreign Affairs), the United Kingdom (Department for International Development), and the governments of Denmark and Sweden.

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