After 30 years of ever increasing aid, most African countries are no better off than they were at independence - indeed, many are slipping back and earlier economic and political achievements are being undermined. This book attempts to answer the questions: Why? What went wrong" The author argues that the widespread theory of "putting the last first" is fine in theory but that in practice the "last" is unaffected He looks at aid as an essentially "top-down" exercise and discusses the failure of ambitious projects because of over-ambitious targets and inadequate controls. He also tackles the thorny question of whether aid to Africa shouldd be stopped so that the continent's economic evolution should be allowed to proceed at its own pace, without outside attempts to short-circuit the process. He looks at various approaches: aggressive intervention, greater financial accountability as a condition of aid, long stays in the field by donor staff, and finally and most radically the ultimate in "bottom-up" approaches: direct cash transfer. All these issues are informed by the author's long experience as a development official in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.