Where should middle-income countries feature in the new aid landscape? | Jonathan Glennie

From Aid | The Guardian Mon Nov 12 2012, 02:00:01

A forthcoming debate in Colombia will focus on the vexed issue of whether states that give aid should also receive it

The role of middle-income countries (MICs) in the new aid landscape is one of the mostly hotly contested issues in development, which is why it was the focus of a regional dialogue organised by ODI in Bogotá last month, and will take centre stage at next week's conference on the future of aid. There are two elements.

First, there is the debate about whether aid should be sent to countries that have "graduated" to MIC status. In the UK's case, India is the country most discussed - see this excellent briefing by Development Initiatives - (Guardian readers have given it a thumbs down in a recent poll), but this debate matters to the whole of Latin America, much of Asia and an ever-increasing number of countries in Africa.

Research I have published (some of it with Anna Prizzon) has questioned the commonly assumed need to reduce aid to MICs, for many reasons. The $1,000 income per capita threshold is arbitrary and stingy - if that level of national income is equally distributed, people are living on just more than $3 a day. Who decided that rich-country obligations end when the extremely poor get slightly less poor? At a UN conference recently, an ex-chief of German aid said: " [view whole blog post ]

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