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The Insider's Guide to Development Cliches

William Easterly is one of the most interesting critics of the mindless NGO, feelgood development ‘consensus’ that has wasted so many tens of billions of dollars in poorly conceived foreign aid programs over recent decades.  Now he’s performed yet another important service by compiling the “Aidspeak Dictionary” that tells laypeople just what development professionals really mean by some of the buzzwords they use.

A Via Meadia favorite not in the current compilation is his definition for NGO: “Nothing Going On.” Read the whole list here.

What’s really needed is a new Devil’s Dictionary, the classic by Ambrose Bierce which punctured the pretensions and cliches of his time.

Readers are invited to contribute definitions of their own.

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  • A

    SR (spending review): Stapler Repair

    USAID: Utterly Serious And In Denial

  • Gabo Arora

    It’s easy to be cynical and jaded towards aid. But in a post colonial politically correct era, where there is no clear authority or possibility of one, what do you expect? This fragmentation and inefficiency results and as imperfect as it is, whom will administer and help run and stabilize the poorest most forgotten regions of the world? The argument that they would be better off without the UN dev NGO world rings hollow. There is limited capacity. I admit it’s not an ideal scenario but its a palliative not a cure. It’s does not bring us to heaven but prevents hell, as SG Dag H said.

  • Luke Lea

    When the times are bad the jokes are good.

  • Richard S

    Why aren’t business corporations “NGOs”? They’re not government, and they’re not family or church. What else are they? They certainly look like non-governmental organizations to me.

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