‘Foreign aid does not solve long-term problems.’ To what extent is this a fair viewpoint? (A levels, 2018)

Click here for the 2018 GP A levels Paper 1: https://generalpaper.sg/2018/11/26/2018-a-levels-general-paper-gp-essay-questions/

Key words

  • Foreign Aid – Giving resources in the form of money or food supplies directly to another country
  • Long-term problems vs problems in the long term – Is there a difference in the two? There should be. The former is referring to problems that had persisted for a long period of time, while the latter can refer to any problem over a prolonged time period. In other words, “long-term problems” should refer to issues like corruption and poor governance etc., while “problems in the long term” will refer to evaluating the impacts/consequences of issues such as housing, transport or education in the longer run. The slight difference in nuancing can be a differentiating factor, especially for scripts that are bordering between two grades (i.e. if the examiner is deciding whether to put a script in the low A or high B band, a slight misinterpretation here may tilt the odds in favour of the latter).
  • Fair – given the complexity of the issue, it is obvious that the response should not be a simple yes or no, but revolve round the discussion of what are the key principles that ought to be applied in the assessment.


  • Foreign aid is useful at least in solving some issues, especially in the short term
  • However, there are reservations about its effectiveness on more deep seated issues.
  • These ‘deep-seated issues’ should be identified and analysed.

Possible Stands

  • No, foreign aid is unable to solve long-term problems because xxxxx (highlight shortcomings of foreign aid and/or context/circumstances that will likely render it ineffective).
  • It will be too myopic to agree with the question because of the way it is phrased (‘does not’).

Suggested Points

  1. It may be naïve to think that foreign aid can solve a country’s economic problems as the root causes are often complex. Issues like corruption cannot be eliminated by foreign aid.

2. Foreign aid will not be able to solve problems that are not caused by a lack of resources e.g. lack of expertise/skilled workforce.

3. Political instability may be another long-term problem that is out of the hands of foreign aid.

4. However, foreign aid can sometimes be the final piece to the puzzle that helps bring a country’s long term plans into fruition. If the necessary infrastructure and support are already in place, timely foreign aid can provide the clout needed to solve the country’s problem (esp for developing countries).

  • Mekong River project in Cambodia

5. Foreign aid, when administered in tandem with skills transfer and mentorship, can go a long way in lifting a country out of poverty.

  • Could elaborate on how international organisations like IMF and World Bank usually disburse aid with conditions attached (requiring countries to make certain amendments to the economy).

Click here for our sample essay to this question: https://generalpaper.sg/2019/02/24/sample-essay-foreign-aid-does-not-solve-long-term-problems-to-what-extent-is-this-a-fair-viewpoint-a-levels-2018/

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