Correct statistics are vital for aid decisions

Every so often, letters appear in the papers about the Irish Government’s contributions to overseas aid.

The general thrust of many of them is that ‘charity begins at home’. I do not agree with such uncaring sentiments. To get a wider view, read Poor Numbers by Morten Jerven. His book outlines flaws in the national accounting systems of sub-Saharan countries.

The subtitle is ‘How We are Misled by African Development Statistics and What to Do About it’. The main problem is that, for many of those countries, GDP series become dubious when their base years are out of date. Unreliable statistics could affect the judgements of international aid agencies.

Michael Mernagh


Co Cork

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