”Dear governments and aid agencies: Please stop hurting poor people with your skills training programs”.

This is the appeal from Chris Blattman, who, citing the paper ”Generating employment in poor and fragile states: Evidence from labor market and entrepreneurship programs.” throws in an impressive number too as the World Bank and its client governments have invested $9 billion dollars across 93 skill and training programs between 2002 and 2012. This is over 100 million dollars per program, which so it appears, render little result.

”Unfortunately, these skills probably did very little to create jobs or reduce poverty. Virtually every program evaluation tells us the same thing: training only sometimes has a positive impact. Almost never for men. And the programs are so expensive—often $1000 or $2000 per person—that it’s hard to find one that passes a simple cost-benefit test.”

These billions of dollars spend on skills training and micro-finance, seem to be a huge waste and only create ”vocational bridges to nowhere” and of course jobs for the people involved in spreading the aid.

Chris rightlfully argues that these funds could have been much better allocated, on, for example, ‘real’ things such as an anti-retroviral treatment, a deworming pill, a cow, a well, or a straight-forward cash transfer. The paper claims that the evidence is in favour of a greater focus on higher and more stable incomes for the poorest people and states:

”Injections of capital — cash, capital goods, or livestock — seem to stimulate self-employment and raise long term earning potential, often when partnered with low-cost complementary interventions. Such capital-centric programs, alongside cash-for-work, may be the most effective tools for putting people to work and boosting incomes in poor and fragile states.”

Image Credit: Purgin_Alexandr

Categories: Development


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