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Poverty, Aid & Development

What happens in the developing world is intimately connected to what happens in the developed world. We live in a globalised world in which the decisions of consumers, governments and corporations determine who wins and who loses in the global economy. Unfortunately, addressing poverty is not just as simple as sending money overseas.

Articles exploring issues of poverty & development:

Hidden Costs:The underside of economic transformation


Since the late 1990s, Mekong countries have experience rapid economic growth based upon intensified natural resource exploitation – hydropower, mining, commercial fishing and agribusiness plantations. Much of this ‘economic development’ has been facilitated by international aid, and aid donors are lauding the region’s economic transformation, claiming that it is bringing substantial reduction in poverty.

This report challenges the "success story” narrative of development in the Mekong region by considering rural people's actual experiences of economic change in the "transition" economies of Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. It argues that the livelihoods, culture and environment of too many - especially ethnic minorities - have been seriously compromised by economic change in the Mekong, and that rural communities and the ecosystems that support them, are under immense strain throughout the region.

[Download Hidden Costs]

Preserving Plenty: The struggle of the people of Sambor


Sambor is a district of Kratie, Cambodia where people have lived for generations off the abundant natural resources of the Mekong – rice from the land, fish from the river, and a wealth of goods and materials from the forest. Sambor means ‘plenty’.

Over the last decade, the people of Sambor, with some help from others, have steadily reduced poverty and improved the quality of life for many. However, the future of these gains is now in doubt: dams, logging and commercial agribusiness are now competing for the same resources upon which the people of Sambor depend.

Preserving Plenty is a full colour publication detailing the lives of people across three Sambor villages: how life is changing for them, how they are working to improve their lives, their hopes for the future and their fears.

[Download Preserving Plenty]


 Articles which discuss Australian aid:

What is overseas aid worth?

Listen to a discussion on ABC Radio National's Big Ideas program between Anglican Archbishop, Dr Philip Freier, Jonathan Cornford from Manna Gum, and Valerie Browning, an Australian-born midwife who has lived in the Horn of Africa for 35 years.

Banking on aid


For the last decade the World Bank and Asian Development Bank have been described as the ‘key partners’ of Australia’s aid program. Other than AusAID itself, the banks are the single largest channel for delivering Australian aid and Australian contributions to the banks are set to grow even more.

However, while both of these institutions have been the subject of sustained and vigorous critique internationally, there has been relatively little debate about them within the Australian development community.

Banking on Aid presents data which more fully describes the role of the banks within Australia’s aid program and surveys the arguments being made for and against the them – it argues that the role of the banks in Australian aid should be the subject of more critical debate.

[Download report]



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