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When aid goes wrong: a lesson from Pakistan on why we can’t ignore markets

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One month ago, a severe flood swept across Pakistan, damaging nearly 110,000 homes. Soon aid groups will have to move beyond providing immediate, life-saving assistance and begin thinking about how to help people rebuild their homes and lives. But will they repeat mistakes made four years ago?

In 2010, Pakistan was hit by a devastating flood affecting nearly 20 million people. While the humanitarian response saved thousands of lives, well-intentioned aid efforts to help people build shelters using bamboo – standard local building material – also inadvertently inflated the price of bamboo well above local pay cheques and pushed businesses further into debt as they were left with stock they couldn’t sell.

Read the full comment by Steven A. Zyck