William Easterly is Professor of Economics at New York University, joint with Africa House, and Co-Director of the NYU Development Research Institute. He is also a non-resident Fellow of the Center for Global Development in Washington, D.C. Easterly received his Ph.D. in Economics at MIT and spent sixteen years as a Research Economist at the World Bank. He is the author of The White Mans Burden: How the Wests Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good (Penguin, 2006), The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists' Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics (MIT, 2001) and over 50 published articles. Easterly's areas of expertise include the determinants of long-run economic growth and the effectiveness of foreign aid. He has worked in most areas of the developing world, but most notably in Africa, Latin America, and Russia. Easterly is an associate editor of the Quarterly Journal of Economics, the Journal of Economic Growth, and of the Journal of Development Economics.
Well there are plenty of good organizations that are working on the ground that are searching on the ground for practical solutions to poor people’s problems, involving poor people themselves as the main actors. You know like the program in Malawi that figured out a way to get bed nets not only delivered to people who were at risk of malaria, but actually used by people who are at risk of malaria. The kind of central planning approach to malaria prevention is the plan decides that you need million of bed nets, and they are dropped out of helicopters and trucks all over Africa, and nobody uses them because nobody educates the poor people that . . . when they need to be used, how they need to be used, what you need to do to use them. When you involve poor people themselves in solving their own problems, then they figure it out. You help supply a bed net and some modest resources; but you have poor people themselves devise a solution that spreads the education on the importance of the bed nets, and how to use the bed nets. A program like this in Malawi by an international nongovernment organizations succeeded in getting bed net use way up so that bed net use went up from a third to over 80 percent in Malawi.