I posted to instapaper.com
7 Worst International Aid Ideas
Good article. The design field has been pushing organizations to do more research with the folks they are attempting to create solutions for. Using human centered design methods could really help out with these aid ideas. Using design thinking in charitable organizations/campaigns has been growing over the last decade. In 2011 IDEO put together a HCD toolkit for people designing in these fields.
Interestingly there does seem to be a market for used t-shirts. (NPR: The Afterlife of American Clothes) I think the donated t-shirt problem is more like the Tom's problem. i.e. Giving away a product could take away jobs or reduce the market for those goods. This has also happened in Africa with mosquito nets. Women with small children could get nets for free from charitable organizations, which made selling nets by local merchants impractical, which meant other people in the region couldn't buy a mosquito net.
Let's hope more people start thinking and researching for the people they are hoping to help.