Augusta Dwyer The Anatomy of Giving

ISBN 13: 9780994976604

The Anatomy of Giving

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9780994976604: The Anatomy of Giving
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The Anatomy of Giving brings readers on a profound and moving journey to Haiti, an impoverished country that has long fascinated the world and attracted the charitable. Through vivid portrayals of unforgettable characters who challenge accepted ways of helping, this book weaves a powerful narrative of hope and change. While it offers a sharp polemic that challenges the traditional approach taken by international aid donors, The Anatomy of Giving also tells a personal story of discovery, anger and, ultimately, promise.

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About the Author:

Augusta Dwyer is the author of three previous books, Into the Amazon: Chico Mendes and the Struggle for the Rainforest; On the Line: Life on the US-Mexican Border; and Broke But Unbroken: Grassroots Social Movements and Their Radical Solutions to Poverty.

Review:

"Politics is not the only aspect of aid to come under Dwyer’s thoughtful scrutiny. She considers celebrity aid, volunteerism, altruism and the actual harm many aid projects have wreaked: the main effect of a massive CIDA-sponsored wheat farm in Tanzania was to take the land that kept 40,000 pastoralists poor but not desperate, leaving them poor and desperate. In seeking to find out why the world’s poor have derived so little benefit from the $130 billion the rich send their way annually, Dwyer keeps zeroing in on the same disconnect: no one, however well-intentioned, ever lets the poor control their lives."
Brian Bethune, Macleans Magazine

"If you want a readable and short (167pages) introduction to the many contradictions and debates that beset the aidbusiness, I recommend The Anatomy of Giving.
Dwyer's subject is Haiti - 'At just a two-hour flight from Miami, Haiti is the Western Hemisphere's own little piece of Sub-Saharan Africa.' She's been visiting on and off since 1985 and,inevitably, a lot of the book discusses the chaotic and widely condemned responseto the 2010 earthquake.
What's great about the book is thatDwyer is a progressive writer and journalist, not part of the aid business. Shealso writes really well - a nice mix of genuine curiosity about the real, messylives and motives of people living in poverty, interwoven with sharp, often critical, analysis of the workings of the aid industry.
Chapters work through the many facetsof that industry: humanitarian response, long term development, support for export processing zones, voluntourism, celebs and philanthropists, the workings of the World Bank and other big institutions.
Overall, she finds little to recommend official aid - the chaos of the earthquake response, the penchant for panaceas, like 'miracle trees' or playpumps, the problems of 'pathological altruism'that does more harm than good.
But this is not a standard aid polemic: she largely avoids the straw men and has an eye for nuance, constantly reverting to the lives of real people to ground her analysis in what matters.In places it reads like an extended trip report, written in the first person, grappling withthe confusion of conflicting versions of events as she tries to get to thebottom of what is really going on (always a lot harder than you expect). 'Did I envy the T-shirt people their certainty? I had to admit that I did, actually.It must be nice to come to Haiti feeling enthusiastic and positive, instead of questioning everything.'
Her overall standpoint is that grassroots empowerment is the way to go - the book sings the praises ofsocial movements in Haiti, traditional structures of social solidarity andbottom up approaches that build on the strengths of poor communities, rather than lament their frailties."
Duncan Green, Oxfam Blogs

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