Dr. Lancet discovers hitherto unsuspected need for aid criticism

The Lancet has issued a severe editorial blast against the aid agencies (both official and NGO) for Haiti aid efforts. (Link requires free registration.) Alanna Shaikh points out where the Lancet is off base.

The Lancet knowledge universe has the perception "the aid sector" has "largely escaped public scrutiny." Who ever heard of any those obscure *&^%$#@ criticisms of foreign aid? That "coming age of accountability" crap? Sigh.

But, forget all that, here's a belated welcome to the concept of aid criticism, Dr. Lancet! Here's what you have already accomplished.

First, you analyze the political economy incentives of aid agencies:

large aid agencies can be obsessed with raising money through their own appeal efforts. Media coverage as an end in itself is too often an aim of their activities. Marketing and branding have too high a profile.

Second, you note these political incentives could cause some needs to be neglected and others not, with the unhappy result:

when viewed through the distorted lens of politics, economics, religion, and history, some lives are judged more important than others

Third, no matter what  aid can do and/or cannot do, you note coordination between agencies is (actually will always be) a disaster:

relief efforts in the field are sometimes competitive with little collaboration between agencies, including smaller, grass-roots charities that may have have better networks in affected counties and so are well placed to immediately implement emergency relief.

You're off to a promising start in so far having shown an impressive grasp of the obvious, Dr. Lancet! Welcome to the aid accountability movement!