Journal Article
Aid, accountability and institution building in Ethiopia

The self-limiting nature of technocratic aid

Forty billion dollars of ODA over the past two decades has reduced destitution in post-socialist and post-conflict Ethiopia. It has also boosted the technocratic capacity of exclusionary state institutions, while doubly enfeebling the fledgling private sector and independent political and civic organisations. This aid–institution paradox is a product of an alignment of donor–recipient strategic interests. The five major donors pursued geopolitical and poverty reduction objectives; and the narrowly based ruling elite sought total capture of the state, ownership of the development agenda and use of pro-poor growth to leverage large aid inflows and to seek domestic political legitimacy. By coupling poverty reduction with adequate space for inclusive market, civic and political engagement, a farsighted coalition of donors could have complemented capacity building with the promotion of state resilience. Scaled-up aid can still be delivered, as in Eastern Europe, conditional on meaningful mutual accountability and the rule of law.

Journal Article This peer-reviewed research is available free of charge. UNU-WIDER believes that research is a global public good and supports Open Access.