New Zealand's Council for International Development has just published its annual survey of New Zealanders' attitudes towards aid.
This little contradiction caught my eye:
General approval of the New Zealand Government providing overseas aid remained at 2004 levels, with a high 76% approving, and only 14% disapproving. Approval remained high for all demographics, although decreased slightly with age.
On the other hand...
Confidence in the effectiveness of overseas aid, whether provided through NGOs or by Government, was again limited. 39% expressed confidence that New Zealand‟s non-Government aid organisations actually help people in poorer countries, while 24% were not confident.
Confidence in the effectiveness of aid from the New Zealand Government was even lower, with 29% expressing confidence that it actually helps people in poorer countries.
So the majority of New Zealanders approve of doing something that they don't think does any good. Oh well, I guess you have to admire their moral commitment even in the face of personal doubt...
More seriously, this, I think, points to an area that New Zealand's international development community needs to work on: publicising its success stories. Aid is not a panacea, nor is it always easy to get right, but good aid can work. And aid has some big successes to its credit. It would be nice if we could let the New Zealand public know this.