Nearly everyone will tell you that aid dependency is a bad thing. Perhaps one of the worst things. The right will say that it's discouraging national responsibility and the left will tell you that it means you're disrespecting people and not targeting the problem. Of course, there is some truth to it. In the long run there are issues with dependency. We're using children and their parents as an analogy to understand the relationship, and it seems reasonable that if children need to grow up and become independent then so do nations. I guess my problem is with how well the analogy fits.
Obviously, nations aren't people. The very concept of national responsibility is rather strange to me. Or the right to responsibility rather. It's like national identity, but even more prone to confusion. I suspect vast majority of people living in developing countries are completely unaware of the financial arrangements their country has with other countries. In the Peruvian village I lived in, no one knew where Australia, Asia or America were, or even what the federal government were doing most of the time. National responsibility and identity are both interesting ideas but I'm not sure how useful they are in making decisions that affect the physical wellbeing of billions of people.
The other issue that complicates it, is that vast quantities of wealth are appropriated from poor countries all the time. Wealth is transferred out of those countries at a much faster rate than it is returned in aid. In a financial sense rich countries are much more dependent on poor countries. Of course, aid attempts to direct money to the poor. And much of the wealth appropriated by wealthy countries would be taken by the local elites, but the relationship isn't nearly as simple as aid flows suggest. Giving a $100 million a year to a poor country every year, no questions asked, when that country is paying you $1 billion a year in interest repayments, doesn't strike me as unhealthy dependency.
On top of this is the fact that aid is about dependence. We do it because the quality of life of people who are independent is so crap. As soon as you increase someone's quality of life with external resources you've made them dependent on you if they want to sustain that quality of life. So it's about timelines and lifecycles. We obviously accept that there will be a period of dependence. The issue is how long that period will be. Except that whenever we observe any situation where there is dependence (in strongly inverted commas), we condemn it, without regard to where the country may be located in that period of necessary dependence.
Australia was dependent on Britain in some sense for two centuries. Yet no one suggests that it has impaired our long term ability to function well. I don't think that nations function the same way people do. Although I do think a far better solution to aid would be far better to stop stealing money from the poor in the first place. Even if the idea of dependency is spurious, it still consumes the discourse, and probably does seep into the way people think. More because of the way we treat them than because of the impact of our paltry aid contributions.