A paper forthcoming in the Journal of Economic Literature states: "There are well known and striking donor success stories, like the elimination of smallpox, the near-eradication of river blindness and Guinea worm, the spread of oral rehydration therapy for treating infant diarrheal diseases, DDT campaigns against malarial mosquitoes (although later halted for environmental reasons), and the success of WHO vaccination programs against measles and other childhood diseases. The aid campaign against diseases in Africa … is likely the single biggest success story in the history of aid to Africa..."
"The well-known Kremer and Miguel paper showed a strong effect of deworming on worm infection rates in a district in Kenya, which reflected not only direct effects on children receiving the drugs but also surprisingly strong externalities to others in the same school or nearby schools."
"Breastfeeding, immunization against diarrheal diseases, micronutrient supplementation and oral rehydration therapy (ORT) have all been found to work in randomized trails in the fight against diarrhea....Case studies suggest ORT is another health aid success story, accounting for a substantial drop in diarrheal mortality since 1980."
Who is this wild-eyed aid optimist? Oops, it's me.
The point is that even those of us labeled as "aid critics" do not believe aid has been a universal failure. If we give you aid agencies grief on failures, it is because we have seen some successes, and we would like to see more!