A Catalogue of Dead Aid

A solar streetlight in Sirigu, Upper East Region. People in the surrounding area believed its solar panels to have been stolen.


Ghana is hardly the poorest country in Africa, nor the most dependent on foreign aid. Yet the countryside seems scattered with the remnants of failed development projects—unused, unfinished, dilapidated, unwanted or abandoned. They represent both wasted money and a simplistic, predetermined narrative of Africa.

My first interaction with Ghana was as a Peace Corps Volunteer, in a northern village. I felt I was going about development work the right way. My projects were all ideas suggested by villagers, carried out with community participation. Yet many failed. Photographs of these projects, and of others I have seen across the country, hint at larger questions, which I fear the development community hesitates to ask itself. My photographs are not necessarily proof that aid can never work. Instead, my focus is on the larger questions I feel need to be raised, of prolonged dependence and cyclical misperception across a vast cultural divide.

Peter Dicampo
Peter DiCampo is a documentary photographer currently based in the USA. He launched his freelance career while working as a Peace Corps volunteer in rural Ghana. Peter was named one of PDN’s 30 New and Emerging Photographers to Watch in 2012, and was a member of the VII Mentor Program 2010-2012. His awards include first prize in the British Journal of Photography’s 2010 International Photography Award, and he was a finalist in the Magenta Foundation’s 2013 Flash Forward competition. 

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