New Republic magazine looks at the rising popularity of direct, unrestricted cash transfers to poor people and pushback against the aid method among traditional relief agencies.
The article recounts the growth of GiveDirectly, a charity that makes grants to people in developing countries via mobile devices. A favorite of Silicon Valley philanthropists, GiveDirectly argues that the recipients know best how to use the funds to improve their lives.
Proponents point to research suggesting positive effects from cash giving and contend the trend could revolutionize the aid system, but doubts remain strong among relief groups focused on delivering supplies, building schools, and other traditional programs to serve poor communities.
“If we send cash to countries that are desperate for whatever aid we’re sending, we know that they’re more apt, whether out of desperation or corruption, to use the aid in a way other than how we intended,” said Chris Leader, the president of relief group Food Aid International. “When we send products, we eliminate that temptation.”