I just finished “Damned Nations” by Samantha Nutt, a book I’d highly recommend to anyone working in the aid sector, anyone interested in aid or development as well as any aid worker who wants his friends and relatives to understand what he is doing all day.
Samantha Nutt is a medical doctor specialising in public health and has been working in the aid sector since 1995. She has worked for both the UN and NGOs and is the founder of the “War Child Canada“.
What I like about the book is that it is critical but never defeatist – contrary to what the title suggests. It is an excellent counter part to the largely negative world view of books like Linda Polman’s “Crisis Caravan”. Where Polman is criticising everything and doesn’t offer solutions, Nutt is just as critical but also shows a way to address some of the problems. That two of her central recommendations are involving communities and empowering women is hardly surprising.
In 240 well written pages, “Damned Nations” covers an amazing array of topics. From voluntourism, to small arms control, from “gifts in kind” to overseas development aid.