In my view, those words in the most recent Goalkeepers report, are the most important Gates wrote in the annual update.
The brilliance of the words is masked in its simplicity.
Gates notes that, as millions of people in low-income countries go hungry, the cumulative spend on food aid from 2005 to 2020 was $57 billion while just $9 billion was spent on agriculture research in the same time period. This vast contrast in spending illustrates that much of the industry is focused on perpetuating the existing system designed to tackle symptoms and not the root cause.
Although Gates’ comments were about food aid in particular, I think the same paradigm shifting thinking should apply to all aid.
The broader aid industry is no different. In our book, The Prosperity Paradox: How Innovation Can Lift Nations Out of Poverty, my co-authors and I describe how the vast majority of official development assistance (foreign aid) funds conventional development projects–building schools, hospitals, institutional reform initiatives, etc.–target the symptoms of poverty, not the root cause.