Author Archives: rachideasandactors

About rachideasandactors

I am a student at Sussex university, studying International relations and development.

What does development mean to me now?

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When I started this course I definitely thought I knew more about development than I did in reality. I had lived abroad and been surrounded by those in the field of development and then experienced the often narrow view of those British people who had never travelled further than Cornwall. Although I respected their sympathy for those in developing nations, I thought I had a more accurate view of the world as diverse but equal. However, I now see that those who know the ‘real’ business of development would look at me in the same way. Although perhaps slightly closer to the ‘truth’, I still subconsciously projected the image of a small girl with flies in her eyes onto the whole of Africa, much of Asia and South America. And this was despite my own eyes having told me different. Similarly, I also celebrated the achievements of the likes of Children in Need and begged my- more experienced and critical- parents to donate. Although I know my views have developed I am now even more enthusiastic to mature my views further.

my view 1Ashis Sarkar, five, at Sakhbariya Primary school, North Bethkash

Does one show a helpless, begging child and the other a liberated, empowered child? Or do both simply represent the motives and views of the aid industry?

My view of the beneficiaries of aid and the processes of aid were (and probably still are) largely limited. I now recognise the depiction of charity as being like an ice-burg: adverts, fundraising shows and even the popularised elements of the MDGs are simply what aid workers show the public to gain funds. The reality of development, the main body of the ice-burg- establishing syllabus’s for schools, working to prevent corruption within governments etc.- is far from glamorous and, sadly, would not capture the hearts of the population. I see this need for charities to present the stereotype of Africa in order to be effective as a serious flaw in the mind-set of the Western world

Something that truly knocked this idea into me was Radi-aid: the spoof charity video encouraging Africans to help freezing Norwegians. Whilst fundamentally challenging the aid system itself, it also defied the common image of Africans as a project rather than as humans with opinions and self-respect. Win’s 2004 article that urges development actors to literally think outside the box rather than subjecting developing nations to categories, measures and presumptions was particularly influential for me. Radi-aid furthered these critiques of stereotypes, saying ‘if these were the images you saw of Africa then to you it would be nothing but a helplessly troubled continent. And if these were the images you saw of Norway then you might see it as a land full of desperate people freezing to death’ (BBC world news, 2012). For me this also emphasised the power of advertising and imagery in development and how it influences not only the small scale donations but also, perhaps, greater international relations and the approach of whole governments to other nations. The consequential link to colonialism was, for me, a shocking and unexpected idea.

my view 3

Freezing Norwegians?

my view 4

Poor Africans?

The idea that there is an excess of money going to developing countries and that less is perhaps more has also had a powerful effect upon my views. In the lecture on celebrities the general view was ‘let’s raise money to save lives’ but this can be seen as a shallow, uniformed and unsustainable view. Lomborg (2012) gives the example of HIV: he sustains that funding towards vaccinations is indeed essential but says that ‘there is no silver bullet to the epidemic’. He emphasises the need to focus on wider, more structural issues such as education, alcohol tax and research into curing AIDS that will have a long term impact. Similarly, Raheb, whilst talking about humanitarian aid to Palestine says they need more empowerment aid to be able to ‘import, export, trade, to do business. This is what is important; not to give them a fish’. I think his use of focusing not on the ‘silver bullet’ is vital to positively progressing the system of development aid.

Bibliography
BBC world news (2012) Focus on Africa : Africa For Norway, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmbcrnXD1DM [accessed 2/12/2012].

Lomborg, Bjorn (2012) In Africa, we must do the most good with each pound spent on Aids-HIV, Guardian, http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/poverty-matters/2012/nov/08/africa-pound-spent-aids-hiv?INTCMP=SRCH [accessed 2/12/2012].

Raheb, Mitri (2011) Too much humanitarian aid and too little empowering aid, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XixkHudd70A [accessed 2/12/2012].

Win Everjoice (2004) ‘”If it doesn’t fit on the blue square it’s out!” An open letter to my donor friend’, in Inclusive Aid: Changing Power and Relationships in Development, ed. Rachel Hinton and Leslie Groves, London: Earthscan.

Image sources
http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/about-us/what-we-do/education
http://www.financialjesus.com/tag/gas/ What interested me about this image is that I had searched ‘African child’ into Google and found pages of similar images of helpless-looking children. I chose this one and went to its website to be able to provide a link… next to the picture was the headline ‘get rich and stay rich’…

http://www.europe-trips.eu/Norway/tourist-information-Norwegian-resorts-hotels-accommodation.html
http://young-chiefs.com/?p=851 Silfath started her own fashion business

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2028 Review of Millennium Development goals

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Author: Alexander de Pfeffel Johnson Jr.: secretary for the advisor to the development Undersecretary.

This report will be the first of a series of reviews of the second generation Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) established in 2013. It will reflect on the extent of their success and progress from the first generation of goals (MDG1) and accordingly present introductory proposals for future goals. The report will follow the established structure of the goals that remained consistent, through much opposition, in the previous revision. It will focus on ending poverty and hunger and universal education. The MDG3, after popular protest over the previous compositions of the UN panel, will include input from a greater scope of actors. In response to accusations of “inconclusive” (Melamed, 2012; 12) assessments, appropriate committees will calculate success on an empirical basis with appropriate quotas. However, quotas will be targeted more towards Human Rights, justice and equity rather than charity and aid (Lammers, 2009; p4).

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1. End Poverty and Hunger
• Targets set in the MDG1 and MDG2 were widely critiqued for their failure to incorporate widening inequality into their assessment of progress. Melamed (2012; 7) emphasised that ‘progress on under-five mortality can, for example, be achieved nationally even if the poorest are seeing no change in death rates’. To achieve more efficient, in depth census results, success of future goals will be assessed more heavily on a global, national and regional level.
good and honest government, the rule of law, transparency and accountability, and free markets • In response to anger concerning the lack of human rights language, stress will be put on the right to life. This is a significant development from the 2012 negotiations in which then Prime Minister David Cameron placed greatest importance upon simply ‘’ (Tran, 2012). Although these elements are strongly upheld in the drive to end poverty and hunger, they must be equal to human rights.
• In terms of poverty reduction through employment opportunities, developing countries will be encouraged to increase their productive capacities. Production projects, consistent with the goal of environmental sustainability, will be focused on creating new sources of energy and encouraging entrepreneurship whilst decreasing imports to create more self-sustaining economies.

Four Stories about Hunger in Kenya by Gideon Mendel

2. Universal Education
• As previously mentioned, the predominance of equity must be increased in future goals. MDG2 continued the success of increasing the capacity of schools and furthermore pushed to provide education for 11-15 year olds. However, in accordance with UNICEF’s long standing aim, educational goals must now focus on targeting all children equally. We must close the gap between the quality of education in developing and ‘developed’ countries rather than simply providing education. Therefore there must be a greater focus on children with disabilities, exploited and abused children, those without parental care, children in detention and children who marry young (UNICEF, Ellen Lammers, 2009; 1: Sowa, 2010; 14).
• Correspondingly, the objective of funding must now be qualitative, rather than quantitative elements: there must be sufficient funding to effectively train and hire teachers. School resources- school buildings, classrooms, textbooks etc.- must also now be maintained. This goal runs in accordance with the aim of sustainable development. In this way, the role of NGOs will continue to develop towards the role of ‘watchdog’ (Moffett cited in Newsome, 2012), whose most important function will be to play a temporary role in establishing infrastructure and from then on ensuring its long-term, sustainable efficacy.

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To conclude, it is imperative that those determining MDG3 reflect more comprehensively upon past efforts than their counterparts in 2013. The suggestions of sustainability, equity and justice must now be realised universally, not simply in ‘mainstream’ and prevalent areas. Goals must be tailored towards the aim of establishing systems within the developing states that can self-sustain MDGs.

Bibliography
Lammers, Ellen (2009), The MDGs post-2015, The Netherlands, The Broker.

Melamed, Claire (2012), After 2015 Contexts, politics and processes for a post-2015 global agreement on development, London, ODI.

Newsome, Matthew (2012), Does the future of farming in Africa lie in the private sector? Guardian [30/11/2012] http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/poverty-matters/2012/nov/23/future-farming-africa-private-sector?intcmp=122.

Sowa, Theo (2010), Protect for the future Placing children’s protection and care at the heart of achieving the MDGs, London, EveryChild.

Tran, Mark (2012), Human rights could be faultline in post-2015 development agenda, The Guardian [02/12/2012] http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/2012/nov/21/human-rights-faultline-development-agenda.

Image sources:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/katine/katine-chronicles-blog/2010/may/28/un-millennium-development-goals

Gideon Mendel/Concern Worldwide http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/gallery/2012/sep/12/tackling-hunger-kenya-in-pictures#/?picture=395936074&index=7
http://www.unesco.org/new/en/apia/education/ *note: although this UNECSCO program from 2012 advocated quality education adhering to the MDGs, these children are still sat on the floor in a fairly run down building. Future goals must build upon the framework of a school building to maintain other aspects of education integral and fundamental to Western education.

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The aid system: is it broken?

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Aid in the popular media has been portrayed as a noble endeavour with the honourable aim of achieving the appropriate society in which rights would be enjoyed through financial investment. However, beneath this picture that we, regrettably, may call a façade, is a more grim reality that must be explored. The representation of developing countries and their unhealthy reliance on aid must be reformed.

poverty has a womans face
Ultimately, our representation of developing countries in aid is manipulated and misleading. This is profoundly true of Africa: Win (2007; 61) points out that ‘the development industry has thrived on the stereotypical image of an African woman who is its “target” or “beneficiary”’. This is a fundamental issue that I may link to my opening statement: that aid is seen as an investment. This dehumanises aid’s recipients and for it to be fruitful it must be reformed. Here, Hancock’s (1989; 191) shocking analogy of ‘Africa… [as] a continent-sized beggar’ forces us to ask whether even the basic notion of imagery has caused the system to be irreversibly ‘broken’ .

Dambisa (2009) explores the idea that development is ‘dead’ due to overreliance on aid and didactically compares contemporary aid to the Marshall plan. Europe was not entirely dependent on aid: it never accounted for more than 3% of GDP whilst 15% of Africa’s GDP is aid. This dependence on the zeitgeist of charity in donor countries creates a significant tone of uncertainty (Lensick and Morrissey 2000, cited in McColloch 2009; 1). A relevant, contemporary example is India; Glennie (2010) points out that ‘the main criticism of aid to India is that India doesn’t need it. But that is exactly the reason why it can work well’. I believe that India’s reduced reliance invigorates real life, grassroots development. This is the way forward for development.

botswana

A second significant difference was that the Marshall Plan was finite whilst modern aid appears interminable. Consequentially, ‘African governments view aid as a permanent, reliable, consistent source of income’ (Dambisa, 2009; 36). For me, this view illustrates the continuation of a colonial, blinkered view of the Northern “prerogative” of maintaining “the rest”. This creates a ‘dangerous’ ‘moral tone’ for the future of aid (Hancock, 1989; 189). However, this argument is not universal. Perhaps the view of the necessity of endless aid is held in the public eye only and those ‘in the business’ recognise the futility of over-reliance on distant sustenance. A prime example of this, for me, would be in Botswana where they ‘vigorously pursued numerous market economy options… Botswana succeeded by ceasing to depend on aid’ (Dambisa, 2009; 34).

A final way in which I see the aid system to be ‘broken’ is its unsustainable nature. Dambisa (2009; 44) outlines the ‘micro-macro paradox’ in which a short term intervention (a Hollywood star sending 100,000 mosquito nets) may have few discernible, sustainable long-term benefits. Worse still, it can unintentionally undermine whatever sustainable development may already be in play: the African mosquito-net maker whose relatives depend on his income is out of business. For me, this approach is parallel to the defective colonial image of short term material aid.

To conclude I agree with that Hancock’s (1989; 190) idea that ‘if the statement “aid works” is true… then aid’s job should be done by now and it ought to be possible to begin a gradual withdrawal’. However, in the majority of cases this is clearly not true and it would be irresponsible of donor countries to do so. From this we may take away lessons from the history of aid, reflect on the flaws of its structure and aims and focus on sustainable development. We must simply amend our methods of achieving our aims and extend our objectives further than the end of the next set of millennium development goals.

Bibliography
Ababa, Adis (2009) as cited in Newsnight (2011) ETHIOPIA billions of dollars of development aid as a tool for political oppression [online]. Available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NzuQw3DQz4w [10th November 2012].

Barder, Owen (2010) ‘Beneath the Appeal: Modestly Saving Lives’, Open Democracy.

Glennie, Jonathan (2008) The Trouble with Aid: Why Less Could Mean More for Africa, London: Zed Books.

Glennie, Jonathan (2010) If India Doesn’t need aid, why do foreign governments still give it? Guardian.

Hancock, Graham (1989) Lords of Poverty: The Power, Prestige and Corruption of the International Aid Business, New York: The Atlantic Monthly Press.

McColloch, Neil (2009) Aid Under Pressure: Support for Development Assistance in a Global Economic Downturn, IDS.

Moyo, Dambisa. Dead aid: Why aid is not working and how there is a better way for Africa. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009.

Win, Everjoice (2004) ‘Not very poor, powerless or pregnant: The African woman forgotten by development’, IDS Bulletin Vol 35(4): 61-64.

Images from:

‘Making it work’ http://www.radiobridge.net/www/work/indexWORK8.html

‘poverty still has a woman’s face’ http://defineterms.com/college-essays/essay-on-poverty-poverty-still-has-a-woman-face/

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Are NGOs ‘out of a job’?

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The term “NGO”’ according to O’Connor (2012), ‘is regularly used deliberately to create an illusion of innocent philanthropic activity’. These ideas, as David Sogge puts it, are ‘shibboleths, catch phrases that distinguish believers from doubters’ (Sogge, cited in Manji et al 2002). I will assess the success of NGOs according to ‘The Global Journal’s’ qualities of innovation and effectiveness, efficiency and value for money and transparency and accountability. I will discuss whether, despite being scrutinized, NGOs are failing to meet these criteria.

The criteria of innovation and effectiveness lead us to question whether NGOs have successfully distanced themselves from the neo-colonial label and whether they meet the public’s expectations. Manji et al. suggest that NGOs’ ‘role in ‘development’ represents a continuity of the work of their precursors’: the colonisers (2002; 568). The example is given of the Kenyan Women’s association, MYWO and the Christian Council of Kenya that were both involved in government funded schemes ‘designed to subvert black resistance during the ‘Mau Mau’ uprising’. This fundamental sense of western entitlement raises the question of whether NGOs are truly successful for ‘benefactors’, or whether they simply continue western ideals. However, it is widely agreed that NGOs are a successful ‘means through which the gulf between citizens’ needs and existing services can be bridged’ (Banks 2012; 3).

ngo1

Efficiency and value for money are qualities that are commonly seen to be lacking. A significant flaw is the relations of NGOs to their donors that ‘meant that NGOs were compromising their grassroots orientation, innovativeness, accountability and legitimacy’ (Banks, 1996; 11). The limited geographical scope of NGO sources, with 37 of The Global Journal’s top 100 best ranking NGOs coming from the US, indicates the narrow scope of economic ideologies within the field (The Global Journal, 2012). This leads us to ask whether ‘the aid system today is structured so that as long as NGOs can keep donors satisfied, they can grow, thrive and expand even when providing inadequate services’ (Banks, 1996; 16). Similarly the definition of ‘NGO’ itself can be questioned: the level of funding now received from governments compromises their ‘non-governmental’ function. ‘The US government transfers nearly 40% of its aid programme through NGOs’ (Manji et al., 2002; 582). These issues bring a dangerous cloud of ambiguity over the role of NGOs that can jeopardise the extent of their efficiency and value for money.

However, leading on from this, the elements of transparency and accountability, even after allegations of involvement in corruption, have arguably remained strong. The idea of being ‘grassroots-driven’ is a significant goal for NGOs. It insinuates the ideal of a less bureaucratic, more ‘bottom up’ system that, consequentially, can be an efficient advocate for the ‘have-nots’. This image, perhaps, is what draws continuing support from the public and donors whilst aiding them to retain their accountability. An example of this would be the INGO charter; ‘an initiative of International NGOs to demonstrate their commitment to accountability and transparency’ (INGO, 2006). This implies that, although unelected, NGOs are nevertheless liable to criticism and are held responsible for their actions. Also, many perceive that governments and other state agents are so tinted by corruption and capitalistic intentions that NGOs, however flawed themselves, will nevertheless be preferable.

ngo image

South-African-activists-a-008

Grassroots efforts in Dakar

To conclude, there is clearly a great, and swelling, critique of NGOs concerning their financial policies and accountability. However, support, particularly from the public, remains stronger, perhaps, than the developmental efforts of governments; their theoretical independence draws in funding from those who prefer the voluntary, rather than taxed, contribution to aid and those who view the work of DFID and the government itself to be corrupt and inefficient. Therefore, despite their flaws, NGOs appear more willing to reform their policies according to critique than government bodies and this, for me, is the attraction of NGOs and the element of their character that should be highlighted as positive.

Bibliography:

Banks, Nicola with David Hulme (2012) The role of NGOs and civil society in development and poverty reduction, Manchester: Brooks World Poverty Institute.

Fabig, Heike and Boele, Richard (2009) ‘The Changing Nature of NGO activity in a globalizing world pushing the corporate responsibility agenda’.

The Global Journal (2012) ‘Top 100 NGOs ranking’, http://theglobaljournal.net/top100NGOs/ [accessed 20/10/2012].

INGO charter (2006) , http://www.ingoaccountabilitycharter.org/, [accessed 20/10/2012].

Lindenberg, M. and Bryant, C. (2001) Going Global: Transforming Relief and Development NGOs, Bloomfield: Kumarian Press

Martens, Kerstin (2002) ‘Mission Impossible? Defining Nongovernmental organisations’, Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Non profit organizations, Vol. 13, No. 3

Manji, Firoze and O’Coill, Carl (2002) ‘The missionary position: NGOs and development in Africa’, International Affairs, 78 (3): 567-583.

O’Connor, Jenny (2012) ‘NGO’: The Guise of Innocence, New Left Project
http://www.newleftproject.org/index.php/site/article_comments/ngo_the_guise_of_innocence [accessed 10/10/2012]

Provost, Claire (2012) ‘Talk point: your questions on the future of UK aid’, guardian

Image source
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2017194/Mau-Mau-uprising-Kenyans-sue-British-Government-59-years-atrocities.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/poverty-matters/2011/feb/18/world-social-forum-reflections-back-ahead?INTCMP=SRCH#

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Has the history of development affected the present?

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‘Development’ has only been recognised as a separate discipline relatively recently, with the reflections of academics on the past often influencing the contemporary processes of aid. I will focus on the effect of colonial discourses for the reason proposed by Lange; that ‘the colonial state was the primary extension of foreign domination’ (Lange, 2004). Reflections on whether this foreign domination was beneficial to the colonies lead us to question whether development today is truly aimed towards the development of good governance and the strengthening of institutional structures. We must also question whether we have developed morally after reflection upon past failures.

A continuing critique of aid is its short-term, and therefore limited, nature comparable to much colonial intervention. From this analysis we can examine whether aid processes have evolved. The Colonial Development Act of 1929 meant that ‘colonial assistance was only given in cases of national emergency, and was purely of a temporary nature’ (Abbott, 1971: 68). This ‘short term quick-fix’ is reflected today in the frenzy of charitable giving in emergencies such as Haiti contrasted to the broad but shallow developmental aid (Van Rooy, 2010: 302). She contrasts this unsustainable form of development to the fall of the Berlin wall when, after reflecting on the success of past efforts, ‘new programmes in judicial reform…‘civil society building’, ‘democratic transition’ all flooded into Europe (Van Rooy 2010: 304). Similarly, today the increasing predominance of language such as ‘sustainability’, ‘equality’ and ‘partnership’ imply that humanitarian aid is simply the most propagandised form of aid (UN MDGs). Therefore, although public opinion is geared towards short term aid, many development initiatives reflect what is often seen as the positive, long term, structural changes reminiscent of colonialism.

AmericanAndHumanitarianAid

However, many academics claim this form of development to be regressive and neo-colonial, reproducing global inequalities and maintaining the dominance of the North, through global capitalist expansion (Kothari, 2005: 62). Accordingly, there appears to be a pattern that aid-giving nations still wish to get something in return. First, Chamberlain advocated ‘the investment of British money… for the benefit of the greater population’ (Abbott, 1971: 68). Sixty years later, the building of the Akosombo Dam in Ghana appeared a continuation of this self-interested development as it maintained Ghana’s loyalty in the Cold War (Baah, 2003: 3). This perpetuating idea, reinforced by Chomsky (in McCormack et al., 2008), that ‘we have to figure out some way of saying “I’m doing it for their benefit”’ suggests that history has not so profoundly influenced contemporary development. Unfortunately, governments may indeed have taken reflected on the past but continue to believe that it is ‘unreasonable’ (Nkruma cited in Baah, 2003: 3) to expect a developed country to give aid for nothing.

However, some would, in fact, argue that development practices have evolved through reflection. McCormack (2008) traces the roots of the contemporary conflict and structural weaknesses in Africa: the British Army’s policy of divide and rule and the Berlin Conference created lasting ‘social dissolution’ between groups that helped to maintain British rule (Stinglitz, 2002 cited in Baah, 2003: 1). Recent developmental initiatives, however, appeared to have reformed their approach. For example, the push for the use of grants instead of loans after scholars argued they left many African countries indebted (Moyo, 2008: 8). Similarly, the hype around microfinance died down and alternatives are being sought after they were found to be flawed (Provost, 2012).

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To conclude, post-colonialists attempt to review how contemporary global inequalities between rich and poor countries have and continue to be shaped by colonial power relations. Whilst we may certainly continue a healthy critique of development and remain wary of accusations of colonialism, public pressure towards legitimacy and positive development is far stronger in the 21st century than in the period of decolonisation and the Cold War.

Bibliography

Abbott, George (1971) ‘A Re-Examination of the 1929 Colonial Development Act’, The Economic History Review, New Series, Vol. 24 (1): 68-81.

Baah, Anthony (2003) ‘History of African Development Initiatives’, Africa Labour Research Network Workshop Johannesburg: 1-10.

Kothari, Uma (2005) ‘From colonial administration to development studies: a post-colonial critique of the history of development studies’, in A Radical History of Development Studies: Individuals, Institutions and Ideologies, ed. Uma Kothari, London: Zed Books.

Lange, Matthew (2004) ‘British Colonial Legacies and Political Development’, World Development, Vol 32(6): 905-922.

McCormack, Pete and Miller, Jesse (2008) ‘Colonialism in 10 minutes: the scramble for Africa’, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pw12KGSj53k [accessed 10/10/2012].

Moyo, Dambisa (2008), ‘A Brief History of Aid’ in Dead Aid: Why Aid is Not Working and How there is Another Way for Africa, London: Penguin, pp10-28.

Provost, Claire (2012) ‘The rise and fall of microfinance’, The Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/poverty-matters/2012/nov/21/rise-fall-microfinance [accessed 10/10/2012].

United Nations, Millennium Development Goals, http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/global.shtml, [accessed 10/10/2012].

Van Rooy, Alison (2010) ‘Good news! You might be out of a job. Reflections on the past and future 50 years for northern NGOs,’ Development in Practice, 10(3): 300-318.

Image sources
http://www.intellectualtakeout.org/library/american-foreign-policy/america-and-foreignhumanitarian-aid

http://www.crewsailors.com/1884berlinconference.aspx

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What is development?

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In multiple academic writings concerning development, the author begins by stating that defining development is a ‘contentious issue’. Most then go on to disparage the vague nature and unknown expanse of development. To me, the rainbow of opinions of those ‘in the business’ about development, ranging from inspiring optimism to critical realism are fascinating. For a ‘beginner’ to the concept of development these vast opportunities for exploration into a multitude of specialisms and attitudes are simultaneously perplexing and invigorating.

 

Academics are varying in their approach and attitude towards development. Some, as Cornwall identifies, such as Chambers, Uvin and Toye, are progressive and positive, using terms such as ‘good change’, ‘responsible well-being’ (Chambers, 1997: 1743), and ‘rights based’ (in Cornwall et al., 2010: 13). These academics are countered by Rist and Sachs’ pessimism in which development is a ‘vague’, ‘myth’ (Ibid; Rist, 2007: 485). For example, Rist and the World Bank challenge Chambers’ idea of ‘sustainable change’, labelling it an oxymoron, recognising that the traditional idea of economic and social growth is ‘inevitably unsustainable’ (World Bank, 2004). The fact that participants in the field of development itself are so polar in their opinions creates a fundamental obstacle to effective, harmonized progress.

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The rich and the poor: The caption on this image was ‘Paris Hilton posing with a little girl in South Africa’

 

Similarly, the multitude of specialisms found within ‘development’ creates a further sense of ambiguity and complexity to a discipline that many may pass as simplistic. I may consider development to focus on non-income dimensions of human welfare as encompassed in the UNDP’S ‘Human Development index’: religion, education, healthcare and community (in Chang, 2010: 1). Conversely, the British public, it is said, tends to define development as ‘the role of governments and individuals in rich countries in helping poor people in developing countries’, the focus being on the economically undeveloped connotations of the ‘poor’ (Glennie, 2009: 2). As with opinions of the success of development, the haziness of the boundaries of development are troublesome, leading to debate about the extent of the role of NGOs and other developmental bodies.

 

However, I would challenge Rist’s cynicism when he claims that development is too ‘vague’ (Rist, 2007: 486). This ambiguity has allowed the World Bank, even as a dominant economic body, to incorporate ‘quality of life: access to education and health care, employment opportunities’ and so on into their definition of ‘development’ (World Bank, 2005). If development was fenced into the realm of solely economics, human rights or one of the other multitude of specialisms within development, I believe progress would be unavoidably narrow and ineffective. Nevertheless, this may in turn lead to the partisanship of development towards a Western definition, consequentially rousing the idea of the white saviour. Nietzsche’s relevant proposition that ‘all things are subject to interpretation; whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth’ is a frightening, yet realistic, idea reminiscent of colonial justification of atrocities through Western values (in Cornwall et al., 2010: 12). It also brings us back to the idea of the scope of development, creating an image of the concept itself being one that develops and evolves relative to its context and its driving forces.

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The ambiguity of development, for me, provides a benefit and a weakness; it may allow for a wider expanse of progression and exploration into new methods of progress but also, as Nietzche is implying, may allow for the exploitation of the term to justify actions that are, essentially, counter-productive, self-motivated and possibly harmful.

 

Bibliography

Chambers, Robert (1997) ‘Responsible Well-being: A Personal Agenda for Development’,      World Development, Vol. 25(11): 1743.

Chang, Ha-Joon (2010) ‘Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark: How development has disappeared from today’s‘development’ discourse’, (2010) in S. Khan & J. Christiansen (eds.), Towards New Developmentalism: Market as Means rather than Master (Routledge, Abingdon).

Cornwall, Andrea and Eade, Deborah (2010) ‘Deconstructing Development Discourse Buzzwords and Fuzzwords’.

Glennie, Alex, Straw, Will and Wild, Leni (2009) Understanding Public Attitudes to Aid and Development, London: ODI and IPPR.

Rist, Gilbert (2007) ‘Development’, Development in Practice, 17(4-5):485-491.

World Bank (2004), ‘What Is Development’, Beyond Economic Growth.

 

Image source

http://boingboing.net/2012/03/21/teju-cole-on-the-white-savio.html

http://www.google.co.uk/imgres?um=1&hl=en&tbo=d&biw=1249&bih=523&tbm=isch&tbnid=Ans-gfrivoR5nM:&imgrefurl=http://www.parishiltonoops.com/tag/benji-madden/&docid=9zWQ1zh6jHrS4M&imgurl=http://www.parishiltonoops.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/03/paris-posing-with-little-girl-south-africa.jpg&w=445&h=642&ei=doG_UN7UOJKXhQfXgoCQBw&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=2&vpy=10&dur=93&hovh=270&hovw=187&tx=76&ty=141&sig=112059591927325673312&page=1&tbnh=129&tbnw=88&start=0&ndsp=26&ved=1t:429,r:0,s:0,i:81

 

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What does development mean to me now?

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When I started this course I definitely thought I knew more about development than I did in reality. I had lived abroad and been surrounded by those in the field of development and then experienced the often narrow view of those British people who had never travelled further than Cornwall. Although I respected their sympathy for those in developing nations, I thought I had a more accurate view of the world as diverse but equal. However, I now see that those who know the ‘real’ business of development would look at me in the same way. Although perhaps slightly closer to the ‘truth’, I still subconsciously projected the image of a small girl with flies in her eyes onto the whole of Africa, much of Asia and South America. And this was despite my own eyes having told me different. Similarly, I also celebrated the achievements of the likes of Children in Need and begged my- more experienced and critical- parents to donate. Although I know my views have developed I am now even more enthusiastic to mature my views further.
My view of the beneficiaries of aid and the processes of aid were (and probably still are) largely limited. I now recognise the depiction of charity as being like an ice-burg: adverts, fundraising shows and even the popularised elements of the MDGs are simply what aid workers show the public to gain funds. The reality of development, the main body of the ice-burg- establishing syllabus’s for schools, working to prevent corruption within governments etc.- is far from glamorous and, sadly, would not capture the hearts of the population. I see this need for charities to present the stereotype of Africa in order to be effective as a serious flaw in the mind-set of the Western world

my view 1 Ashis Sarkar, five, at Sakhbariya Primary school, North Bethkash

Something that truly knocked this idea into me was Radi-aid: the spoof charity video encouraging Africans to help freezing Norwegians. Whilst fundamentally challenging the aid system itself, it also defied the common image of Africans as a project rather than as humans with opinions and self-respect. Win’s 2004 article that urges development actors to literally think outside the box rather than subjecting developing nations to categories, measures and presumptions was particularly influential for me. Radi-aid furthered these critiques of stereotypes, saying ‘if these were the images you saw of Africa then to you it would be nothing but a helplessly troubled continent. And if these were the images you saw of Norway then you might see it as a land full of desperate people freezing to death’ (BBC world news, 2012). For me this also emphasised the power of advertising and imagery in development and how it influences not only the small scale donations but also, perhaps, greater international relations and the approach of whole governments to other nations. The consequential link to colonialism was, for me, a shocking and unexpected idea.

my view 3
Freezing Norwegians?

my view 4
Poor Africans?

The idea that there is an excess of money going to developing countries and that less is perhaps more has also had a powerful effect upon my views. In the lecture on celebrities the general view was ‘let’s raise money to save lives’ but this can be seen as a shallow, uniformed and unsustainable view. Lomborg (2012) gives the example of HIV: he sustains that funding towards vaccinations is indeed essential but says that ‘there is no silver bullet to the epidemic’. He emphasises the need to focus on wider, more structural issues such as education, alcohol tax and research into curing AIDS that will have a long term impact. Similarly, Raheb, whilst talking about humanitarian aid to Palestine says they need more empowerment aid to be able to ‘import, export, trade, to do business. This is what is important; not to give them a fish’. I think his use of focusing not on the ‘silver bullet’ is vital to positively progressing the system of development aid.

Bibliography
BBC world news (2012) Focus on Africa : Africa For Norway, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmbcrnXD1DM [accessed 2/12/2012]

Lomborg, Bjorn (2012) In Africa, we must do the most good with each pound spent on Aids-HIV, Guardian, http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/poverty-matters/2012/nov/08/africa-pound-spent-aids-hiv?INTCMP=SRCH [accessed 2/12/2012]

Raheb, Mitri (2011) Too much humanitarian aid and too little empowering aid, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XixkHudd70A [accessed 2/12/2012]

Win Everjoice (2004) ‘”If it doesn’t fit on the blue square it’s out!” An open letter to my donor friend’, in Inclusive Aid: Changing Power and Relationships in Development, ed. Rachel Hinton and Leslie Groves, London: Earthscan.

Image sources
http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/about-us/what-we-do/education
http://www.financialjesus.com/tag/gas/ What interested me about this image is that I had searched ‘African child’ into Google and found pages of similar images of helpless-looking children. I chose this one and went to its website to be able to provide a link… next to the picture was the headline ‘get rich and stay rich’…

http://www.europe-trips.eu/Norway/tourist-information-Norwegian-resorts-hotels-accommodation.html
http://young-chiefs.com/?p=851 Silfath started her own fashion business