No-Nonsense+Chapter+2

No-Nonsense+Chapter+2 - About the author Maggie Black is an...

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Unformatted text preview: About the author Maggie Black is an independent writer and editor on social issues relating to‘ international development. particularly in the fields of children‘s and women's rights. and water and sanitation. Among her books are: Water: A matter oflife and health (0UP lndia, 2005). Water; Life Force [N1 2004). The Ala-Nonsense Guide to Water (Verso and N1. zoos). Children first: The story of UNiCEF (0UP and UNlCEF. 1996), and A cause for our times: OXFAM, the first5o years (0UP and OXFAM, 1992). Maggie Black is widely traveled in the developing world. especially in East Africa and Southeast Asia, working as a consultant for organi- zations such as UNICEF, WaterAid. Anti~Slavery International, IPECilLU. SCF and Oxfam, and as a consultant editor forvarious UN studies and reports. She has also been a co-editor of the New internationalist magazine, and has written for The Guardian, the Economist and the BBC World Service. Other titles in the series The hid-Nonsense Guide to Animal Rights The No-Nonsense Guide to Climate Change “"The‘No‘fNfin'senseGuide'to Conflict and Peace The lilo-Nonsense Guide to Fair Trade The lilo-Nonsense Guide to Globalization The lilo-Nonsense Guide to Human Rights The lilo-Nonsense Guide to lslom The No-Nonsense Guide to Science The hie-Nonsense Guide to Sexual Diversity The No-Nonserlse Guide to Tourism The No-Nonsense Guide to World Health The Nan-Nonsense Guide to World History The Ala-Nonsense Guide to World Poverty About the New internationalist The New lnternationalisl: is an independent not»for-profit publishing co- operative. Our mission is to report on issues of global iustice. We publish informative current affairs and popular reference titles, complemented by world food. photography and gilt books as well as calendars, diaries, maps and posters — all with a global justice World view. If you like this lilo-Nonsense Guide you'll also love the New internationalist magazine. Each month it takes a different subject such as Trade justice, NuclearPower or iraq. exploring and explainingthe issues in a concise way; the magazine is full of photos. charts and graphs as well as music, film and book reviews, country profiles. interviews and news. ' To find out more about the New intemationalist, visit our website at www.newlnt.org Maggie Black ‘ commr 9 2Aid: the internationalcontribution Aid is the international countries have always bee 16 people J? they give, but the ke arm of development. Rich n niggardly with the amount it is _ imposSible to take a definitive view about its value. 613 a_vari- Throughout its history, aid has been driven by the ' = ' donor agenda and relatively little has been used to address poverty, but without it poor countries would " ' - ' i be' even worse off. Non-governmental aid also has its ary zboé. '3' Michael critics, but it is more likely to address poverty and at Oxfolidmlfléversitér; support alternative development models . 199 . ‘ development b.. m . - d 3113’ Version of l n . l 0 r ‘ “Y of dreams 1:) sad Wthh “ Quid k6 1. Jeevan Vasagar, ‘Campa‘ wilage', The ‘G ' ‘ _ elopmenr. Zed B In The Development Dictionary, ed m Development? Report of the . ger, 1969.10 Le AT THE TIME when ‘aid’ was invented, the central role envisaged for itin development meant that instru- ment and purpose were seen as indistinguishable. Aid on a massive scale, furnished by the industrial— ized world led by the US and the err-colonial powers, would fuel a ‘big push’, enabling development in poor countries to take off.1 In the great majority of nations, this never took place. One problem was that the scale envisaged for aid or official development assistance (ODA) never materialized. Even the targets set — one per cent of industrialized countries’ GNP in the 19605:, and 0.7 per cent in the 1970s — were unambitious and arm”. .7 could never have accomplished the goal. rsity ;:_ Governments signed up to t he 0.7 per cent target, but this has never been met except by a few northern European countries. The miserly quantity of ODA ‘ ' remains an issue, and there was a big and success- __ i' I 1 ‘ .ful push to increase it during 2005. But actually aid ' 'qua-ntity is far less significant than issues to do with _ finality and-pUrPOSB-- - - ' ' I ) I , '. ' . 7- = ' " ‘f i” " ' The existence of aid created a new sub-set of inter- " - ' national affairs, casting developed and developing 30 ‘ , . v Michael Joseph 19 ' . 94. 90- 15 UNJCEF Office 23 June 1995. :6 ' UNlCEF. 1996. :7 31 Aid: the international contribution in“ countries respectively as ‘donors’ and ‘recipients’. This i i - relationship, in which the d I onors are in. the drivin s l c H no matter how much this is glossed over with words l i g such as ‘partnership’, has helped to perpetuate an I axrs of superiority and inferiority. The implication is l r I: that ‘development’ ' n exclusive to poor 5 ng qualitatively different from eco— Who gives what? Only four countries me rent ofGNl (Gross Nati " "' Overseas Development A55 _ . “er-95’ Gm. 2904 istance (Obit) as a percentage Ii i Norway Denmark Luxembourg Sweden The Netherlands Portugal Belgium France Switzerland Ireland Italy E United States Human Development Report zoos. UNDP vance in theindustrialized world, donor populations that Southern poverty is so glaring that, unlike poverty in their own societies, it will be easy to sort out by Spending money on it- ‘ The justification for aid, from the outset, has been poverty statistics in developing countries. today a huge array of comparative data, much of it collected and synthesized courtesy of — well, aid. This There is - is most easily accessed in the World Bank’s annual world Development Report and the UN Development Program’s (UNDP) Human Development Report. re expressed in economic terms — GNI per capita, for example; some in social terms — rates of infant mortality, malnutrition, illiteracy; yet others are indicators associated with access to ' services: family'pla'nning take—up} _ ‘ access to health care, safe water and so on. Thus a ‘world’ picture of needs is conveyed. But whether aid budgets and programs respond to these needs is another matter. Aid as compensation? The connections between aid and poverty eraditation have always been tenuous. Much aid has been used to help countries compensate for their underdeveloped status in Ways unconnected to poverty, titling them over with advice, specialized expertise and subsidized contracts for high-tech investments, until the notional day when they become developed and can do these things for themselves. The primary purpose of ODA has been to assist the growth of national economies and increase the global total of ‘modern’ consumers. It was clear from the start that aid would be used by donor countries for strategic and political purposes and to promote trading ties. But a set of international bodies existed — the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the UN 4-. through which aid could be channeled. The transfer of resources and know—how to promote economic-and. sociali - female education, ‘ Aid: the international contribution advance through these took place within the broader framework of international effortsto secure peace; multilateral aid would be free of national self—interest, althouglr‘ governing bodies reflected prevailing struc— tures of power, wealth and orthodoxy in financial and economic affairs. This was the climate in which aid was born. With the successful experiente of the Marshall Plan for European recovery fresh in every mind, no—one worried that aid would not achieve its purpose. Aid and development were immutany har— nessed. One followed the other as night followa day. This idea of aid as instr ntal ' Idevelo ment has been extraordinaril Lienacdoiis. This is- because and an the institutions associated with it, from the " mighty international funds and Vbanks to the smallest charitable endeavor, are the principal international expression of humanity’s commitment to the develop- ment mission. Without these bodies and the many types of transfers they provide, development would be entirely a local affair, controlled by a recipient coun- try’s administrative policies and budgetary investments and bolstered by voluntary and philanthropic activity in the society concerned. The ‘international commu— nity’ in the form of donor agglomerations would have no say over a country’s financial, economic, agricul— tural, health, water resources, education, or any other policy. Because aid has given development an interna- tional dimension and the character of a global crusade, and because ODA packages have been used as a lever for all kinds of policy impositions, the concepts of aid and development are difficult to disentangle. However, it is important to recognize that much international aid has a remote relationship with any- thing recognizable as development, Much of it never goes n,‘ear the South at all. Some is spent on. debt ' 'Irelief; some on international bureaucracies based in ' donor 'countries, some on vast displays of interna— tional discussion or ‘glohal studies’. Even a significant i i i l i l component of ‘program aid’ — that spent directly on - activities in developing countries — goes on personnel and machinery set up to administer it, much of which belongs to donors. - Aid ma e international, but in the end whet r it is e .ectivel r connected to cut is c d _ what ha ens on the rouan W Developing country bureaucra-' cies typically suffer from many shortcomings: lack of capacity, lack of democracy, lack of eff1c1ency and .lack of outreach to the poor. Thus even program aid! - may berelatively'impotent in controlling its results. " Development is subject to many influences, not all of'which aid can or should control. Chang e and. pro ress can ha en without the intrusion dam, and much ODA has failed to make a useful contribution. Great expectations . ' Since a lot was expected of it and it has funded many failures, aid has had a checkered history. Early assumptions about the ease With which underdevel— opment would give way to the application of aid-011 a Marshall Plan model 50011 collapsed. The Situation in Africa, Asia and Latin America was quite dif- ferent from that in post—War Europe, where there had been huge destruction and human distress, but there was an educated population and knowwhow of all kinds. Once countries had reconstructed, they could put their human capital instantly to work. But in the South, it was a question of building. modern infrastructure for the first time. Most African and Asian countries had no'educated cadre waiting to run it — except for the'handful of people trained ‘ up by the ex-colonizer's for purposes of their own. > ‘sDevelopment- could. not- s'irnply- he slapped down. upon pre—industrial societies courtesy of aid. Except for the business of commodity extraction Via mines 35 Aid: the international contribution and plantations that the colonizers had come for, an autonomous modern economy and the institutions to run it had to be created, mostly from scratch. This is a task requiring generations, and using investment to speed it up has been a puzzle ever since. _ The naivety of early aid policy meant that many ventures failed in spectacular fashion. One of the most notorious was an attempt to mechanize agriw culture in Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia that left a trail of abandoned tractors littering the landscape. There were rapid breakdowns, no spare parts, misuse for private purposes, a failure to recover cultivation ' costs and endless other problems.2 Many attempts at modernization and industrialization ran into similar disaster. Sophisticated industrial plant and showpiece constructions — which were what most developing countries _wanted, not-some second~class, bargain basement 'version of derrelopinent —~ quickly fell into disrepair. -It--became clear that aid—"would have to be better targeted to help those living in poverty. Unfortunately there were very few structures to man- age the use of aid for this/ The criticisms leveled at aid‘s poor results provided a cast—iron excuse to keep ODA budgets 10w. But the assumption remained that aid could and would pro- duce development if project quality and performance improved. Within the aid industry itself, the crisis of confidence stemming from early disasters led to a process of re-appraisal. In order to be able to apply aid better to its purpose, development in all its aspects — objectives, strategies, policies — as well as the assoe ciated practical arts and sciences — data collection, planning, project design and performance monitoring — were increasingly put under scrutiny. Whatever else it has or has not done since the early fiascos, aid has since paid for a thorough debate about itself. ODA has also achieved some striking successes. It facilitated the transfer of agricultural technology H that brought about the expansion of food production known as the Green Revolution (although this is seen as a mixed blessing in terms of its effects on small and marginal farmers). Aid has also helped to effect maJor advances in public health, including smallpox eradi- cation, the control of many infectious'diseases and reductions in mortality and illiteracy; aid is essential in the contemporary international fight against AIDS. Assistance provided by non-governmental organiza— tions (NGOs) has helped bolster the growth of civd society, and enabled organized expressions of Citizen need. to make improvements in their lives, albeit on a mini—sealer A variety of critiques _ ' Nevertheless, aid has not been the engine of. develop- ment originally anticipated. Nor has it brought an end to poverty. And because it appears not to have achieved very much, aid has come in for devastat— ing critique. One school of thought derides all aid as damaging, because it creates dependency, fat— tens bureaucracies and inhibits political dynamics in receiving countries. ODA is also accused of promoting an agenda that exclusively serves donors and the bet— ter off, helping elites feather their OWn nests in league with international business interests, taking money from poor people in rich countries to help rich people in poor countries. . . a ' Another school of thought pomts to aids poor results in economic terms and the way it has frequently been filched or squandered. Analysts may look at the correlation between provision of aid to developing countries and their rates of economic growth, and finding no discernible connection, dismiss aid as point— less — or since they are usually themselves part of the aid industry, call for ‘reform‘.3 One influential treatise from an economist who spent 16 years at the World Bank suggested that there was nothing to show for 37 Aid: the international contribution the $1,000 billion aid disbursed since 1950 as living standards in many parts of Africa and South Asia are lower than 30 years ago“ This ignOres the good things aid has done, and the fact that there have been many faulty assumption that everything done with aid is Similar, pursued for identical‘purposes. A question mg existence as a budgetary umbrella, aid has little generic character. f a ferent t r es of ‘ i ’ vastrange of_act1vities es eci r' l , con— tributions are inc u ed. One woul - ‘ in); m§n"“_wo?lE?—’__fl Unhelpful messages Whetheraid contributes to socio—e‘conomic improve— ment for disadW pends 5013‘ Who R‘ s136_n____ ME;_£§_QQ§X and on what. Anyone Who has . . M. spent time on aid—financed prolects knows that the process of intervening usefully in how people conduct their lives is fraught with difficulty. It is hard enough , . in ones own‘community; how much harder in socie- and failure — which aid organizations dependent on support in donor countries are guilty of perpetrating 7— rarely apply. PrOJects that can, be fiercely criticized on one set of grounds — wrong technology, over—optimistic 38 _ repeatedly asked is: ‘Does aid work?” The ques- " 'x"tio‘n ma (es 110%. ' ’ is altransfer‘of reso “W " ' " “1‘7: Mfi‘vm—H‘r—fl C S i on concessronarr terms r a it to ii to time-scales and wasteful extravagance — may also have excellent attributes. Others that are impressive — dynamic leadership, local commitment and visible improvements -— may collapse later because of- a tech—- nical problem no—one could have envisaged. A classic: example is the adoption of handpump~tubewells as the universal device for village drinking water in ' Bangladesh, supported by UNICEF, the UN Children’s ' Fund. When the water table dropped because sources were over—pumped for irrigatiOn, arsenic contaminat- ed the groundwater. A program heralded a success for 20 years was now roundly criticized. Yet no-one could‘ have reasonably anticipated. the arsenic problem, nor did the extraction "of water-for drinking-cause'itl‘ie-n problem. 130 'ud ment about ‘success’ or ‘fail re’ can be uaranteed over time nor extra 01 mm local- —_...___..»—J constantly Chan in circumstances. To make a defini— mm is im ossible. ‘ ' Tliere are many other examples of messages that convey oversimplified ideas about ODA, both to talk up its humanitarian credentials and gather political support, and to talk it down as a waste of taxpayers’ money. Just as it is invidious to seize on examples of bad aid investments to dismiss the w ole enterprise, it does not help to inflate the case for it on spurious grounds. Aid’s supporters continue to evoke the inap— propriate model of the Marshall Plan, as with the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) initiative actively promoted since 2002. Exaggerated claims were made during the 2005 ‘Malce Poverty History’ campaign about what could be accomplished when official aid flows are dramatically increased, to $130 billion a year (the 2010 target agreed at the G8 Summit at Glen'eagles). There is no reason to assume that larger aid flows would in themselves perform alchemy on poverty in the- South-.---. Welliinformed: .. ;. observers estimate that, at best, one—quarter of official 39. Aid: the international contribution development assistance reaches people who are poor.‘5 Even this estimate seems generous. The ‘aid industry’ is an intrinsic part of the machin- ery of development since it supports and influences it, but it is not the same thing. Yet such is the abiding power of the ‘aid : development = poverty reduction” idea, and the hope for humankind that it contains, that simplified equations about the causal relationship between these three phenomena are repeated without serious chiallenge. They do not help an understanding of What aid is or how it works. ' The machinery of aid The lien-iii I: AM anon. Earthstan .The machiner of official aid is net desi ned‘ to a dress the overty of people, but the state of nation 'T" e*internationa'l'institutions "—'"banlcs,'"UN’ agencies, funds and commissions - and the country-to—country bodies Such as USAID and the UK’s Department for .What is aid spent on? About 25_per cent is spent on tranSport and industry: over 15 per cent on education and health; and around 6 percent on debt servicing. Despite all the recent talk about ‘governance and civil society" this receiires less than 3 per cent. Education. health and population Basic '— {15.5%) Other Education a (1.3%) (24-3 16) K [._..._...c_ Water suppiy and sanitation (6.6%) Government and 'civil society (2.9%) /J Emergency aid {5.1%} Debt relief (517%.) l- Program , assistance (4.7%] . __ . Transport and industry (24.5%) . .Agritulture [9.5%] International Development (DfID), are a constella— tion of bureaucracies whose only common feature is that they spend money collected from taxpayers in richer countries in countries that are poorer. Whatever the diverse members of this. ‘international donor community” are most akin to — research institutes, consultancy firms,- sub—departments of foreign affairs 7 or boards of tra...
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