Can Technology Save Foreign Aid?
The notoriously inefficient development-assistance complex is under siege. Two trillion dollars have flowed from north to south in the last half century, with decidedly mixed results. Current political and budgetary trends threaten the continuation of such flows. At the same time, however, technology offers a means of escape from present bureaucratic bottlenecks, and a means to revolutionize how aid is delivered. Take mobile technology, point-of-sale devices, and biometric IDs. What if donor governments simply deployed these technologies to cut out the middleman, delivering electronic payments directly to the world's poor? In an academic paper and accompanying article on Slate, Jamie Zimmerman of the New America Foundation and Henry Jackelen of the United Nations Development Programme are proposing just that. Future Tense invites you to a discussion of their provocative proposal, and of other ways technology can revolutionize foreign development assistance. http://www.newamerica.net/events/2011/can_technology_save_foreign_aid