Elsewhere online
October 20, 2011

Donations of Food, Cast-Off Clothes Can Harm Poor Countries

American donations of cast-off clothes and surplus food to needy people in the developing world do not help poor countries and can actually hurt their economies by reducing demand for local products, according to Foreign Policy.

In its November issue the magazine details examples of "Swedow" (stuff we don't want), such as the $2-billion plus U.S. food-aid program, which in 2002 sent millions of Pop Tarts to Afghanistan, and the National Football League's annual donation of the thousands of Super Bowl champion T-shirts it prints before the game for the team that ends up losing.

Such donations, generally tied to American surplus rather than need abroad, reduce jobs and farm incomes in recipient countries that can actually produce staple foods and apparel for less than it costs to warehouse and ship them, author Charles Kenny writes. He says cash contributions are usually more effective than donating unwanted goods.