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Development

and
Patronage

Selected articles from Development in Practice

Introduced by Melakou Tegegn

A Development in Practice Reader


Series Editor: Deborah Eade

Oxfam (UK and Ireland)


Published by Oxfam (UK and Ireland)
First published 1997

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Contents

Preface
Deborah Eade 4
Development and patronage
Melakou Tegegn 1
African libraries and the consumption and production of knowledge
Paul Tiyambe Zeleza 14
People's empowerment from the people's perspective
Karunawathie Menike 25
Building partnerships between Northern and Southern NGOs
Alan Fowler 31
The evaporation of gender policies in the patriarchal cooking pot
Sara Hlupekile Longwe 41
Framing participation: development projects, professionals, and organisations
David Craig and Doug Porter 50
Sustainable development at the sharp end: field-worker agency in a participatory project
Cecile Jackson 58
North-South relations and the question of aid
Mustafa Barghouthi 68
Collaboration with the South: agents of aid or solidarity?
Firoze Manji 72
Partners and beneficiaries: questioning donors
Richard Moseley-Williams 75
NGOs and social change: agents or facilitators?
Jenny Pearce 82
On being evaluated: tensions and hopes
Movimento de Organizacao Comunitaria 88
Sustainability is not about money!: the case of the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry
DeryckR Brown 91
The wrong path: the World Bank's Country Assistance Strategy for Mexico
Carlos Heredia and Mary Purcell 96
Annotated bibliography 100
Addresses of publishers and other organisations 110
Preface
Deborah Eade

The nineteenth-century liberal historian, Lord deliver fizzy drinks and hamburgers to anyone
Acton, famously observed that 'power tends to who can afford to pay, and yet cannot guarantee
corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absol- enough to eat to millions more.
utely'. At the time this aphorism was coined, It is in this context that the Colombian anthro-
European imperial power was at its height and pologist Arturo Escobar writes:
was assumed by its rulers, merchants, and
missionaries to be both a natural right and a It is clear to most people that the post-World
moral duty. In the words of Cecil Rhodes, the War II dream of development is dead. Asia,
spearhead of British colonial interests in Africa, and Latin America are no closer to
Southern Africa who died in 1902: 'I believe it to becoming developed than in 1945, when the
be my duty to God, my Queen and my Country to powers of capital and technology were
paint the whole map of Africa red, red from the summoned to make them clones of the First
Cape to Cairo. That is my creed, my dream and World. The question is: what comes after
my mission.' History and the liberation and development?1
anti-colonial movements that gained momen- The dream of development might well be dead:
tum after the 1939-1945 war was to dash certainly, it is more like a nightmare for the
such dreams. However, they still haunt the world millions of children who will die of avoidable
in the form of conflicts and structural problems causes attributable to poverty before the
that can be traced back to the cultural and end of this century, as it is for the half-million
political divisions imposed by imperialism. poor women who die each year in child-birth. So
And yet, in so many ways, the transfer of wherein, then, lies the continuing power of this
formal power has been a hollow victory for collective dream? Is the challenge to reclaim
people in the South, where almost one quarter of development and redirect it or as the Mexican
the world's population survives in conditions of scholar and activist Gustavo Esteva heretically
extreme poverty. With economic restructuring argues to create alternatives to it?2
now proceeding apace at a global level, millions While the multilateral and regional develop-
more are seeing their incomes and security ment banks, and the major official donors, wield
collapse, while the United Nations Development real power over the policies of governments and
Programme (UNDP) reports that the combined the welfare of ordinary people, the development
wealth of the world's seven richest men could dream is also conveyed more insidiously: ideo-
eliminate poverty and provide access to basic logies, discourses, dogmas, myths, and meta-
social services for the poorest quarter of the phors can be so seductive and so all-encom-
world's population. It is a world which can passing that they come to be taken for granted.
Preface 5

Crude language such as 'the triumph of of being about to self-destruct, it is essential


capitalism' or 'the defeat of communism' that they should seek constantly to improve
reveals the struggle for ideological as well as the quality of their partnerships. That the whole
economic hegemony over the direction that mission of development may be misguided is
development should take. That entire nations are not a reason for development agencies to
classified as developed or developing or least- adopt less than the highest achievable standards
developed (but never over-developed and of integrity.
seldom mal-developed) further implies that Most of the papers in this collection are
development is a one-way street, and that written by experienced practitioners who have
progress can be hastened by a blend of (Bretton been in one way or another on both the receiving
Woods-approved) policies, international co- and the giving ends of the aid chain. They speak
operation, and diligence. The struggle then of the race to keep up with their funders' (or
becomes a semantic one to 'name' development: employers') changing fads environment one
'sustainable' or 'exclusionary', 'market-led' or year, gender the next; decentralisation today,
'people-centred', 'gender-fair' or 'gender-blind', impact-assessment tomorrow and thus of the
'trickle-down' or 'bottom-up', concerned with way in which financial dependence limits their
basic needs or with basic rights. It is like blind- scope for intellectual and political autonomy.
folded children pinning ever more awkward They show how vested interests, whether in the
qualifying tails on to the donkey. Ditching the pursuit of patriarchal power or just financial
concept becomes impossible, since the develop- survival, introduce a gulf between rhetoric and
ment industry 'has a way of shaping the world practice; these are the hidden forces which
and its "needs" in its own interests' .3 ensure that power does not shift. They speak too
Influential Southern thinkers have stressed of how an NGO with a distorted self-image will
that, without removing our 'mind-forg'd mana- inevitably generate conflicts as it goes about its
cles' and breaking out of all forms of patronage, work; how an NGO can, by taking on more
we cannot conceive of the world in a liberated overtly political roles, thereby disempower and
and liberating way." This suggests that we depoliticise the people's organisations that gave
should indeed forget about looking for it some measure of representational authority in
'paradigms' and focus our energies on other the first place; of participatory projects that can
ways of exploring human potential. Yet these rely on participants' good behaviour only when
writers are also acutely aware that material and a respected authority figure is present, and
political inequality will not evaporate just by which are otherwise largely unresponsive to
wishing away dependence or internalised sub- them; or agencies which impose on others their
jugation, nor by being more benign in the own world-view and ways of working, in the
exercise of power. name of empowerment and partnership.
Nonetheless, development agencies, and In various ways, contributors to this volume
particularly NGOs, do set themselves the task underline the importance of mutual transpar-
of building North-South 'partnerships' that ency, especially when financial dependence is a
claim to be based on solidarity and egali- reality. This applies as much to the NGOs which
tarianism, but are in fact mediated through the depend on official sources of money as it does to
one-way transfer of resources. In trying to the Southern recipients of their funds. Being
balance these competing (and not always clear about where power lies will not dispel
compatible) agendas, it is fair to ask whether the inequality, but may allow for critical feedback
aid-dominated nature of any such partnership and negotiation. At present, development
makes it impossible to ask the big questions agencies feel free to pick and choose their
about development: most organisations (and 'partners' and to change their agendas at will
individuals) find it painful to ask the big and this fine. But then their language of 'partner-
questions even of themselves! But, given that ship' and 'solidarity' is revealed as so much
development agencies exist, and show no signs pious humbug.
6 Development and Patronage

'Transparency' calls for better insights into We end by returning to Lord Acton, who
the powerful undercurrents that converge to pull believed that liberty was 'the marrow of modern
an organisation off its intended course. We are history'. A practising Catholic, he opposed the
all the products of the web of beliefs and social doctrine of papal infallibility. His argument was
structures of which we are a part, and of the with dogma the idea that truth comes always
experiences that have marked us as individuals. and only from one source rather than with the
There are, however, ways in which people can pronouncements of the Pope as such. Similarly,
learn to understand and recognise the forces that as Melakou Tegegn argues in his introductory
drive them, and so be freer (not necessarily free!) essay, the old development paradigm should be
to make choices about them. Development turned on its head. No one doubts that immense
agencies perhaps need to undergo a similar positive achievements have been made in the
therapeutic process every now and then. It is not name of development. But that does not mean
enough to have a policy that commits them to, that the direction followed until now is the right,
for example, gender equity and equality. the best, or the only one. If it were, the gap
Techniques and training can help. Affirmative- between rich and poor would be shrinking, not
action policies can shift the centre of gravity. growing. Nor is it a viable alternative to retreat
Steps can be taken to bring gender issues into the into the micro-universe of local realities.
public arena. Battles can be fought. But the real Humanity needs to find new ways of commun-
changes need to happen at the most intimate icating, of creating political spaces for marginal-
level within, as it were, the heart and mind of ised people; what Tegegn calls working for
the organisation. The process of change is not 'globalisation from below'. This is too import-
easy. It takes time and often a lot of trouble. ant to be left to development experts in Geneva,
An honest and transparent partnership also Washington, or London. Cross-cultural partner-
demands a high level of mutual accountability. ship is not just an option for the privileged few,
To paraphrase the British Labour politician, nor simply a way of transferring resources from
Tony Benn, there are five key questions: the North to the South. It is a political and moral
necessity, a question of survival.
Whom do you represent?
Where do you get your money from?
To whom are you formally accountable?
To whom are you morally accountable? Notes
How can we get rid of you?
1 Arturo Escobar (1997), 'The United Nations
It is this last question that so resonates with what and the end of development', reprinted in
some of the Southern contributors in this volume Development: The Journal of the Society for
have to say. How can local people get rid of International Development, Vol 40, No 1.
NGOs and other external agencies whom they 2 Gustavo Esteva (1992), 'Development' in W.
regard as intrusive or dangerous or who are Sachs (ed), The Development Dictionary: A
obstructing communication between the rele- Guide to Knowledge as Power, London: Zed.
vant actors? Is there a real need for Northern Also G. Esteva and M. S. Prakash, Hope at the
NGOs to act as middle-men in channelling Margins: Beyond Human Rights and Develop-
government aid to Southern NGOs? If so, whose ment, London: Zed (forthcoming, 1998).
needs are being served? And what does this 3 Mike Powell and David Seddon (1997),
imply about mutual accountability and trust, Editorial, Review of African Political Economy,
especially if the demands on Southern 'partners' Number 71.
are changing 'in part as a result of the demands 4 See, for example, the following entries in the
for accountability from those who provide the Annotated Bibliography to this volume: Franz
NGOs with their funds and in part as a result of Fanon, Paulo Freire, Rajni Kothari, Julius
the growing resemblance of these NGOs to Nyrere, Vandana Shiva, Ngugi wa Thiong'o.
commercial organisations'.5 5 Powell and Seddon, op.cit.
Development and patronage

Melakou Tegegn

The predominance and consequences of glo- domination and occupation, violence against
balisation 'from above' compel us to raise women, and destruction of nature and the
fundamental questions, the answers to which environment. Very few people question whether
(with the further implication that these are this science is ethical and natural, which is why
'universally' applicable) have long been taken the dominant discourse on development and its
for granted: questions that could not and cannot various related facets also goes unquestioned.
be answered through the prism of old paradigms, The very framework of our intellectual develop-
questions which do not even interest the power- ment, which has been informed and shaped by
ful, for they are 'less curious than the powerless the same dominant discourse, does not permit
... because they think they have all the answers. that. The South has also yielded to this dis-
And they do. But not to the questions that the course, this world-view or cosmology. As
powerless are asking' (Kumar, 1996:2). Yet the Kumar aptly put it (ibid., p.3):
paradigm and practice of the powerful still
prevail: the chariot of modernisation and indust- The 'South' has, for too long, accepted a world
rialisation is galloping ahead at an alarming view that has hegemonised its cultures, decided
speed, the market has broken through the walls its development model, defined its aesthetic
of the previously impenetrable fortresses of categories, outlined its military face, determ-
nature and of indigenous peoples: the Amazon, ined its science and technology, its nuclear
the Mekong, and now the Nile. The world has options. A cosmology constructed of what has
surrendered to the universal mode, to the come to be known as 'universal' values; a cos-
dominant paradigm and discourse on develop- mology whose philosophical, ideological and
ment. And it is precisely the validity of this political roots were embedded in the specific
discourse that we will explore here: its ethics, historical context of the culture of the West.
and whether or not it answers the many Without necessarily implying that these are the
questions that humanity is raising. antithesis of the dominant paradigm, the
corollary is that the existence of various know-
ledge systems sciences if you like must be
recognised, along with the acceptance that
The dominant discourse Northern science is just one such knowledge
The dominant paradigm on development is system, and not the science, the paradigm, and
based on the science and technology whose the discourse.
power and influence was made possible through The subject in the process of social develop-
military might, colonisation of the South, ment must be people, for the essence of
8 Development and Patronage

development must be to improve people's taking GNP as the principal, if not the only,
standard of living. A change for the betterfirstof such indicator. In a nutshell, development =
all implies the consent of the people. What modernisation = industrialisation.
constitutes a better standard of living must be The Northern notion of development has
defined by the people themselves. However, characteristics that derive from its own historical
people have until now often been dragged into a evolution starting with the industrial revolu-
definition and measurement of the process of tion and colonial expansion and so has
social development, using the yardstick of cultural and ethical foundations that are peculiar
Northern values. Consequently, people's own to the North. This evolution and the resulting
social and traditional organisations have been cultural and ethical foundations are either absent
seen as archaic, traditional values as backward, from, or quite different in, the South. Prior to
and their knowledge systems as 'unscientific'. colonialism, Southern peoples had various
People were expected and even taught to aban- political, social, and economic organisations,
don their traditional organisational systems, each based on their own cultural and ethical
their values, and so on. In short, changing their foundations. They differ significantly from
identities was the precondition for the kind of those of the North. In the colonial era, however,
'development' prescribed by the North. Thus, Southern identities were forced to change in
people's authentic institutions or associations order to satisfy the economic and political
the family, councils of elders, religious institu- motives of the colonial powers. In a compelling
tions, credit associations, their values and deconstruction of the Northern discourse on
customs were (and still are) supposed to be development, Gustavo Esteva notes:
replaced by alien 'modern' forms.
When the metaphor returned to the vernacular,
it acquired a violent colonising power, soon
employed by the politicians. It converted history
Development revisited into a program: a necessary and inevitable
destiny. The industrial mode of production,
What, then, is development? What does it mean?
which was no more than one, among many,
Who defines it? What are the criteria used to
forms of social life, became the definition of the
define development or under-development?
terminal stage of a unilinear way of social
And what are the yardsticks (and whose are
evolution ... Thus history was reformulated in
they?) used to determine whether or not a given
Western terms (Esteva, 1992:19).
society is 'developed' or 'under-developed'?
These are crucial questions that urgently need to
be raised at this historical conjuncture, in a world Or, as Sailendranath Ghosh has it,
whose very existence is threatened by the countries which ought to be regarded as
alarming way in which its ecology and environ- maldeveloped which waste resources and
ment are being destroyed. degrade man are called developed on account
Another factor is the collapse of the of their elitist consumerism, military power and
'development' models that were attempted in technology for maximum exploitation of man
the South, compounded by the post-Cold War and Nature (Ghosh, 1988:43).
social amnesia in the North. Since 1949, when
When the term 'under-development' was coined
the term 'under-development' entered the
after the second world war, it essentially
official discourse, development has always been
reinforced the hegemonic content in the
one-sidedly understood to mean economic or
Northern beliefs and definitions of what
material growth. The UN and other international
bodies, as well as political establishments and 'development' is about. But what about the
academic institutions, took this skewed values in other cultures? What are the definitions
definition for granted. Some went further still, and indicators of 'development' in the South, in
pointing to the 'indicators of development', and other social forms? Are material abundance,
Development and patronage 9

economic prosperity, or technological 'advance- element: 'marketisation'. Globalisation and 'the


ment' the only indicators of 'development'? end of the Cold War' are not empty phrases.
What about richness in human values as They signify not only the emergence of a uni-
reflected in family, social, gender, racial, and polar world dominated by the market system,
ethnic relations? In many (pre-industrial) but also the whole chain of changes that have
Southern cultures, there are indeed social and resulted. These changes are occurring within the
ethical values that are considered to be proper very structures of society, within the sovereignty
norms in a human society, and which could just of the nation-State in the South, with the
as well be taken as indicators of 'development'. emergence of new class fractions associated
There is no point in pitching the values of the with and dependent on the global market system,
North ('developed'(?), industrial, rich) against and in a global political context (and UN system)
those of the South ('under-developed'(?), pre- dominated by the USA.
industrial, poor), or vice versa. Inasmuch as the In concrete terms, certain social, political,
North seeks recognition and respect for its and economic problems are aggravated as the
values, similarly it must respect and recognise result of the globalisation process and the pre-
those of the South. Dichotomies need to give domination of the market. Poverty in general has
way to mutual recognition, though without been globalised, turning hundreds of millions of
denying the universality of certain human values people in the South into paupers, and rendering
which are pertinent and central to human many millions of people in the North un-
development: values such as gender equality, employed. In today's world.poverty is no longer
liberty and the right to free expression, ethnic the exclusive identity of the South: it is also
equality, and harmony among peoples. widespread in the North. The feminisation of
In this respect, despite its weaknesses, the poverty characterises this globalised poverty,
Human Development Report published annually and is the other side of the same coin. The
by the UNDP since 1993, and the Human position of women in many parts of the world
Development Index it uses to indicate levels of has worsened (as many UN reports demon-
'development' country by country, are quite a strate), and violence against them has continued
break from the previous discourse on the unabated, with the outbreak of wars and
determinants of development indicators. It conflicts and the intensification of trafficking in
constitutes a major breakthrough in the process women and sex tourism. Environmental degrad-
of re-thinking development paradigms. If ation and the disturbance of the ecosystem have
dichotomies are to be avoided and recognition of reached such alarming levels that the future of
values in all cultures is to prevail, development human civilisation is now seriously in question.
should be taken as a totality of people's material Ethnic tension and conflicts have become the
well-being on the one hand, and the flourishing hallmarks of the late twentieth century, with a
of ethical and cultural values on the other. Can deterioration in the conditions of indigenous
one speak of 'development' in terms of material peoples everywhere. Complementing this crisis
abundance, if this is accompanied by ethical and in the prevailing development paradigm, the
cultural impoverishment? And vice versa? imposed secularism of the nation-State in the
Ethical impoverishment is worth emphasising South imitating the modernisation process of
here, for it is the source of misunderstanding that the North, in the name of 'development' has
often lead to conflicts among peoples. re-kindled certain traditional and local values
that have in turn contributed to the spread of
religious fundamentalism. The economic policy
prescriptions (medicines!) and conditionalities
Globalisation imposed by the World Bank and the Inter-
national Monetary Fund (IMF) have thrown
With the completion of the globalisation
millions and millions of people around the globe
process, the formula development = modern-
into poverty. This is the reality ofthe world at the
isation = industrialisation has added one more
10 Development and Patronage

dawn of the twenty-first century: the reality of Such problems are further aggravated by the
globalisation and the post-Cold War era. actual processes of globalisation, which are
If the Northern modernisation processes that affecting mainly the peoples of the South. But
took place in previous centuries broke every what happens as a consequence of nuclear tests
national frontier through gunboat diplomacy, or in the South Pacific or nuclear waste-dumping
through direct colonisation and occupation, the somewhere else affects people, and the poor in
current process of modernisation peddled particular, everywhere. The trafficking of
through globalisation has a different face. women and sex tourism know no frontiers. Nor
Today, it is the mega-financial institutions that does AIDS. Thus, globalisation has also made
impose their will through Southern governments inter-dependence the reality of today's world.
and nation-States. From the tiny island of Fiji in The prevailing form of globalisation is that
the Pacific to Ghana in West Africa, the peoples which comes 'from above'. Inter-dependence
of the South are subjected to the economic has, however, compelled many forces within
medicine of structural adjustment programmes civil societies the world over to explore ways of
which make, among other things, devaluation of getting together in response to this process.
national currencies, privatisation schemes, and Networks have been formed, forums have been
the withdrawal of State subsidies and State opened, social movements have spread, and
intervention in the economy absolute conditions many NGOs are still emerging in many
for receipt of IMF or World Bank loans. The countries. This is a natural response by civil
consequence of this is the integration and societies to the consequences of the policies of
absorption of Southern national economies into those who dominate the world today: a kind of
the global market system, as well as the globalisation 'from below'.
complete abolition of some public services, and Beyond inter-dependence, globalisation has
withdrawals or cutbacks in overall public also brought new issues, new questions, and new
spending, government subsidies, and social- problems on to the development agenda. What is
security systems. These cuts have seriously crucial within the context of these emerging
affected the condition of women and the quality questions and challenges is the role that civil-
of health systems and public education. With the society organisations in the North can play in
integration of their national economies into the constructing and developing a new and genuine
global market system, countries of the South form of South-North cooperation and solidarity.
must then submit to the dictates or domination of If it is true that it was not only a poor country,
the Bretton Woods Institutions (BWIs) the Vietnam, which defeated the aggression com-
Bank and the Fund and now the new World mitted against it by the USA, but also the anti-
Trade Organisation (WTO). war solidarity movement in the cities of the
The South is also victim to the political North and in the USA in particular, it is also true
'rationale' of the BWIs. 'Political stability' is that the struggle against globalisation 'from
advanced without qualification as the 'pre- above' cannot be won without the active partici-
condition for development'. Examples such as pation of civil-society organisations in the
those of the 'tigers' (Singapore, South Korea, North.
Hong Kong, and Taiwan), Indonesia, and a This has now reached the level of necessity in
handful of other countries in the South are cited order to create a united political response to the
as illustrations. Democracy and human rights reality of globalised problems. At the level of
are almost, in some cases, portrayed as consciousness too, it is vital to go more deeply
'luxuries' for the South. In other words, it is the into contextualising the problems that are
powers in the North that know what people in the arising in the globalisation process, which are in
South need; and political issues such as demo- reality the problems faced by oppressed peoples
cracy, human rights, and women's rights are everywhere. It is crucial for NGOs, social
luxuries that only the'developed'and'civilised' movements, and other organisations of civil
North can afford. society to adopt such a perspective. Because, in
Development and patronage 11

developing a strategy, it has become imperative condition of women. We have to start with the
to analyse one's own particular problem from question: what must change? What is universal
the global perspective, and the global problem in this respect is the degraded position of women
from the local perspective. The reality of global- in society, both because their material
isation compels us to broaden our scope, to conditions of existence are inadequate, and
reinforce our consciousness and knowledge, and because of men's attitude towards women, and
raise these to a higher level. the attitude of women towards themselves.
Patriarchy must disappear both from the minds
of men and of women. The injustice, the
Development and gender physical and psychological violence unleashed
The contemporary world had never seen such a against women, originate from and have their
fascinating social awakening as it did in the roots in patriarchy. Patriarchy is not just
1960s and 1970s, particularly in the women's oppressive and exploitative; it is also violent. It
movement, and the emergence of feminist- comes under the guise of tradition, custom,
inspired thinking and paradigms, which later led culture, and even religion: all justifying the
to the development of a gender perspective. degradation of women and the violence against
Without doubt, this noble movement has them. Consciously or unconsciously, this is
contributed greatly to changing perceptions of violence by the community against women and,
relations between the sexes, however modestly, therefore, against itself. This is what under-
throughout the world. However, despite all the development is, and it is precisely this under-
legislation of governments, the UN declarations development which is universal, from the
and resolutions, and the global forums on Medina of Sana'a in Yemen to Harlem in the
women, the position of women has not yet sub- USA, from Cape Town in South Africa to
stantially changed. On the contrary, according to Reykjavik in Iceland.
recent issues of the UNDP Human Development If we opt for a humane society, development
Report, the conditions of women in many parts and democracy must be defined and measured
of the world have in fact worsened. Assuming according to positive changes firstly in the
that all other existing conditions remain un- position of women, and secondly in the attitude
changed, the condition of women will certainly towards women of men and women alike. This is
continue to deteriorate. fundamental, for it constitutes a truly radical
Though the discourse on women's equality change. The most difficult thing for human
continues, the gender component within the beings to change is themselves: liberating
wider discourse on civil society and social themselves from the thinking transmitted from
development must come to occupy a determ- the past in the name of tradition. Development
inant position. 'Structurally',civil society is that means that each man, among other things,
part of society which is located outside the realm should start thinking differently and in a positive
of the political power (the State). Women, both way about the women whose lives are closely
numerically and as those who have been dis- linked with his.
empowered since the dawn of history, constitute This should not be taken as an appeal for
a profoundly important and organic component change to conform with Western thinking, for in
within any democratic civil society. The this sense the West itself is still under-
language and definition of the term 'develop- developed. The position of women in the West
ment' must start with changes and improvement and the attitude of society towards them is still
in the conditions of women, who are the most deplorable, to say the least. In the case of Africa,
relegated yet crucial element not only of this patriarchal and traditional outlook has been
civil society, but of human civilisation itself. If reinforced by colonial intervention, and now by
development means change for the better, its the injection of 'modernisation' and 'modernity'
definition must start with what constitutes the through institutions such as the IMF.
better: a change and improvement in the
12 Development and Patronage

Development and human rights rights violations in the North. Yet human-rights
violations in the North constitute a serious
If there is one area where the dominance of the
problem, as the capacity of citizens to live
development discourse is glaringly obvious, it is
decently as human beings gets weakened by the
that of human rights. The prevailing discourse
day. There were 40,000 homeless people in
on human rights is historically specific to the
Chicago alone in 1986; there is a seven per cent
period of the European Enlightenment, with its
rate of illiteracy among Afro-Americans just in
ideological and philosophical foundations in
Mississippi; and the increasing problem of
liberal thought. Its material foundation is the
unemployment is regarded by the Chicago
private industrial mode of production and the
school of economists as insoluble. If a great
market economy. Private interest, the interest of
many citizens of countries in the North cannot
the individual, private profits, and competition
live as human beings because of want, hunger,
were its creed. Equating with and restricting the
homelessness, illiteracy, and other material
concept of human rights simply to the right of
needs, then what is this if not a violation of
the individual has its historical basis in theriseof
human rights?
capitalist industrialisation. This discourse is
advanced by the powers that currently dominate
the economic, social, and political life of the
industrialised societies. As Corinne Kumar has Equality and partnership in
rightly pointed out, the dominant discourse is development
and was 'a partial dialogue within a civilisation'
(ibid., 11). One relic of the dominant discourse is reflected
in what passes as 'partnership in development'.
Today, the Western discourse on human
After the 1939-1945 war, the North was
rights has become the global language, having
categorised as 'developed' and the South as
negated other civilisations, values, philo-
'under-developed'. 'Logically' it followed that
sophies, and State systems particularly in it was the South which needed 'development',
Africa, Asia, the Americas, the Arab World, and and that the North would help the South to
so on, firstly through colonial conquests and 'develop'. This was somewhat tempered after
now through the globalisation process. The the 1960s, and was followed by claims of
values in most civilisations of the South that 'equality and partnership' in the 'development'
rested not only on respect for the rights of the process in the South. The question of 'equality
individual, but equally on the well-being and and partnership in development in the North' has
interest of the collective on the one hand, and on never been considered, for the existence of
respect for the environment on the other, were under-development in the North has not yet been
scrapped by the expansion of industrialisation recognised.
and the market. In much of the South, therefore,
However, globalisation 'from above' (of
the rights and interests of the collective are as the market) has made inter-dependence
important as those of the individual, since it is something beyond solidarity a necessity on
the collective and not the individual which plays the part of the globally marginalised, who are
the most decisive role in life in the South. This increasingly being made dispensable for the
should in no way be taken as a defence of sake of industrialisation, expansion of the
'tradition', inasmuch as 'tradition' in this market, and 'modernisation'. Those who are
context is not being seen in opposition to involved in the development process, in the
'modernity'. On the contrary, in 'traditional' struggle against poverty, against violence
societies, there are also patriarchy, violence, and against women, against the destructive exploit-
repression that should be abhorred. ation of the natural environment increasingly
Human rights are, however, generally realise the inter-dependence of global civil
considered as being the agenda of the South. society. This has been translated into the forma-
This assumption denies the existence of human- tion of various global and regional networks and
Development and patronage 13

forums. Much hope is inspired by this greater 'donor-recipient' dichotomy obsolete. Partner-
degree of contact within global civil society, the ship in development is no longer an expression
process of globalisation 'from below'. of solidarity, but has become an imperative:
However, this global civil society is a con- equality between 'donors' and 'recipients' is
glomeration of great diversities. There is a long now an absolute necessity.
way to go before a unity of social action can be
achieved. One such constraint is the lop-sided
view concerning equality and partnership in References
development. Contemporary inter-dependence
has meant that a development project has Esteva, G. (1992) in The Development
changed from being the concern of a given Dictionary, ed. Sachs, London: Zed Books
locality or region into being of wider concern to Ghosh, S. (1988) 'A plea for re-examining the
global civil society. For example, the social concepts of development and reorienting
movement against French nuclear tests in the science and technology', in Global Develop-
South Pacific is no longer the concern only of the ment and Environment Crisis Has Human-
people of the Pacific; an environmental project kind a Future?, Penang, Malaysia: Sahabat
to preserve the forests in the highlands of Alam
Ethiopia has positive impact in the Sahel as a Kumar, C. (1996) South Wind: On the
whole; and so on. The fight against material Universality of the Human Rights Discourse,
poverty in the South also has a positive impact Tunis: El Taller
on the North. Such inter-dependence renders the
14

African libraries and the consumption


and production of knowledge
Paul Tiyambe Zeleza

Global village or feudal estate? these questions we need to assess the develop-
We live in the information age, so we are always ment and state of the continent's basic infra-
told, in which information is apparently as vital as structures for creating and distributing knowledge:
agriculture and industry once were. It is an age of namely, the availability of publishing houses,
infinite possibilities in education and scholarship, technical expertise, printing facilities, electronic
teaching and research, economic growth and technologies, libraries, and capable writers. It is
political freedom; a brave new world blessed with not enough, however, to bemoan the regional and
the open intimacies of the village, where the social disparities in access to information, or to
boundaries of national isolation and intellectual chronicle the unequal patterns of information
provincialism are withering away, as knowledge acquisition, outreach, and infrastructure. We need
expands in its relentless march towards human to unravel the content, the value, of the informa-
enlightenment. Extravagant claims, no doubt. tion. What social good has it generated? To what
Knowledge, as creed and commodity, as a pro- extent has the explosion of information led to
prietary privilege, reflects and reproduces the more enlightened human relations within and
spatial and social divisions of power, old and new, among nations? Is the 'information highway' all
material and ideological, between and within speed, noise, and fury leading nowhere, and
societies. The 'information highway' is a danger- leaving behind only data-glut and confusion? In
ous place for those on foot or riding rickety short, we must interrogate the ethics of informa-
bicycles. It is designed for, and dominated by, tion, the social and political morality of know-
those travelling courtesy of powerful and ledge creation, consumption, and content, and
prestigious publishing systems and academic assess its record in bettering the human condition,
enterprises of the industrialised North, who churn not just materially, but in ennobling social
out the bulk of the world's books, journals, data- relations, in uplifting the human spirit.
bases, computers and software and other informa- These are the issues discussed in this article.1
tion technologies, and dictate laws on inter- The first part offers an overview of the challenges
national copyright and intellectual property to the facing African academic and research libraries,
information-poor world. A harmonious global crucial centres for the consumption and prod-
village it is not. A feudal estate, hierarchical and uction of knowledge; and examines the band-aid
unequal, it may be. solutions that have been tried, only to reinforce
What is Africa's position on this feudal the continent's external dependency.2 The second
estate? Where does it fit in the international part argues that the plight of African research
political economy of knowledge production, libraries as a crisis of scholarly communication
dissemination, and consumption? To answer cannot be adequately tackled without developing
African libraries and the consumption and production of knowledge 15

and improving local academic publishing and and political disaffection problems that were
information-production capacities, to ensure the exacerbated by the disastrous programmes of
dissemination of knowledge that better reflects structural maladjustment. The bookshelves grew
African realities. But we must avoid the pitfalls of empty. 'Book hunger' joined the litany of
either romanticising indigenous knowledge or Africa's other famines of development, demo-
turning library holdings into a fetish for neither cracy, and self-determination.
guarantees accessibility or enlightenment. Thus
the challenges of producing and disseminating
knowledge and information ultimately centre on The impact of structural adjustment
questions of cultural democratisation and social The prevailing library and information system
responsibility. And these are not peculiarly was in a crisis of self-reproduction and relevance.
African problems. They are universal. This is amply borne out by the 1993 survey of 31
university and research libraries in 13 African
countries conducted by the American Associa-
tion for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) .All
The struggle for the bookshelves
but three of the libraries reported a sharp drop in
African libraries carry a heavy colonial imprint, their subscriptions to journals from the mid-
even in those regions with long traditions of 1980s. Among the worst-hit were the libraries of
literacy and libraries, such as Northern Africa, Addis Ababa University and the University of
Ethiopia, and parts of Western and Eastern Nigeria, and the University of Yaounde1 Medical
Africa, partly because virtually the whole Library, which in the late 1980s and early 1990s
continent (including Ethiopia between 1935 and cancelled subscriptions to some 1,200,824, and
1941), was under colonial rule. After independ- 107 journals respectively, owing to shortage of
ence a period that witnessed the fastest foreign exchange (Levey, 1993: 2-3). Currency
expansion of libraries in the continent's history devaluation, one of the linchpins of structural
colonial traditions were reinforced by a scramble adjustment programmes, also took its toll on the
for modernisation that assumed a concomitant buying power of libraries. As the Librarian of
need for Westernisation. African libraries heed- AbubakarTafawa University said in 1993: 'at the
lessly borrowed their architecture, collections, current rate of 25 naira to the dollar, I should have
bibliographic and classification systems, training about $229,000 for books. Ten years ago, I would
and staffing structures from the North, without have been swimming in dollars for at $1.50 to
adequately tethering them to the stubborn local M , the same naira would have equalled over $8
realities of poverty and illiteracy, on the one hand, million' {ibid., 9). Compounding matters were
and the rich media of oral culture and the unpredictable currency fluctuations which
voracious appetite for education, on the other. imposed further and unanticipated expenditures.
It was a fatal concoction, this combination of
Research and academic libraries were the least
currency devaluations and fluctuations, together
domesticated, much like the universities them-
with the escalating cost in the price ofjournals and
selves, whose institutional lineages and intellect-
books. Today, it is common to find journals with
ual loyalties lay overseas. AH was well in the
annual subscriptions costing $1,000,especially in
heady years immediately following independ-
the sciences. One study estimates that serial costs
ence, when healthy commodity prices and
in North America, from where African research
booming economies kept modernisation hopes
libraries import many materials, increased 115
alive. The tentacles of information-dependency
per cent between 1986 and 1994, and monograph
grew tighter and thicker, despite the inchoate
costs rose by 55 per cent. As a result, serial
nationalist yearning for cultural decolonisation.
acquisitions among members of the US-based
Then from the mid-1970s many African countries
Association of Research Libraries dropped by
fell into a spiral of recurrent recessions, which
four per cent and monographs by 22 per cent
wreaked havoc on development ambitions, and
(Birenbaum, 1995). If research libraries in the
left a trail of economic decline, social dislocation,
16 Development and Patronage

North were feeling the chill, those in Africa and another five for 80 per cent and more. Four
caught pneumonia. The case of the University of had neither donor support nor their own funding.
Ibadan Library is all too typical. Its subscriptions "Thus without external funding,' the AAAS
plummeted from over 6,000 serials in 1983 to less report states, 'many libraries would have few
than a tenth of that adecade later (Levey, 1993:3). current journals on their shelves. But donor
The three fortunate libraries that reported support', it notes correctly, 'raises its own set of
increases in the number of subscriptions the dilemmas, which revolve around the dreaded
University of Nairobi Medical Library, the term "sustainability"' (Levey, 1993:19). The
National Mathematical Centre of Nigeria, and donors do not underwrite projects indefinitely,
Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University which makes it difficult to pursue a rational pro-
subscribed to no more than 200 journals each. gramme of journal acquisitions. For example, the
Indeed, only seven libraries in the AAAS survey University of Makerere Library reduced its
subscribed to more than 200 journals with internal subscriptions from 700 to 200 serials when grants
funding. Of these, only three, led by the from the Overseas Development Agency (ODA)
University of Zimbabwe Library with 1,578 and the European Community expired in 1991.
journals paid through the library's budget, could Another problem is that library aid, like all aid,
boast more than 500 subscriptions. But even the has strings attached. 'Book presentations',Clow
latter saw its foreign-currency allocation decline (1986:87) writes, 'are usually restricted to items
from 65 per cent of the funds requested in 1989 to published in the donor country ... training usually
less than 40 percent in 1991 (Levey, 1993:4-5). involves donor-country citizens as teachers; if a
Aggravating the dire financial conditions in scholarship is awarded, the scholar usually travels
which the libraries found themselves were the ill- to and spends most of the money in the donor
advised government taxes on imports of books country.' African libraries rarely choose the
and journals.3 Bureaucratic red tape often makes journals and books that they receive from the
matters worse: getting imported books out of donors.4 Predictable, also, is the fact that most of
customs can often take weeks, even months. the journals donated are North American and
The universities themselves are also to blame. European, not African.5 In short, book aid tends to
Their expenditure patterns are usually skewed in reinforce Africa's dependency on Western
favour of salaries and privileges for the admin- values, languages, discourses, and institutions.
istrative elite, with their fleets of official cars, Reluctant to bite the hand that feeds them, many
heavily subsidised housing, and numerous allow- librarians keep quiet, even when the donations are
ances: self-indulgent practices reminiscent of the irrelevant and inappropriate. In the process, the
corrupt political class. And so the universities culture of silence and submission to imperialism,
seek to reproduce themselves, not as intellectual which is partly responsible for the African crisis
ivory towers, nor as locomotives of progress, but in the first place, deepens. And so they meekly
as the inert apparatus of the State, a mission that receive, and fill their shelves with, or quietly
leaves little room for serious commitment to dispose of, propaganda materials from embassies,
scholarly communication and critical pedagogy. the discarded miscellanea of Western libraries,
grimy, out-of-date texts, and publishers'
remainders. By filling the bare shelves of African
The dubious benefits of library aid libraries, well-meaning, but sometimes mis-
One response been growing reliance on donations guided , philanthropists can display their altruism;
of books and journals from charitable organisa- and hard-nosed publishers can dispose of their
tions and foreign governments and their agencies. unsold tomes, and thus save themselves ware-
The AAAS survey found that only five of the house charges and earn welcome tax relief.
libraries subscribing to journals in 1993 did so From the 1970s, donors and international
exclusively with internal funding. The rest agencies, especially UNESCO, produced a series
depended to varying degrees on donor support. of training and information-development pro-
Five were dependent for as much as 100 per cent, grammes. But most of these, Sturges and Neill
African libraries and the consumption and production of knowledge 17

(1990:97) contend, 'failed to produce results technologies for liberation and repression are in
commensurate with the attention that the inform- serious dispute (Kagan, 1992; Buschman, 1992).
ation professions have paid to them'. They Lancaster (1978) urged developing countries to
attribute the failure of UNESCO's national seize on the new technologies and leapfrog to
programmes of library and information develop- electronic libraries, by-passing the book. His
ment to erroneous assumptions, inadequate plan- critics have argued that electronic information
ning, and poor design, problems often exacerb- services in Africa benefit only a small, already
ated by the lack of State support, sparse infra- privileged elite. African librarians, they assert,
structures, and excessive duplication and rivalry ought to be concentrating on helping the illiterate
among the donor agencies themselves. Similar majority to learn to read and write (Mchombu,
challenges have hampered efforts by Africa- 1982; Olden, 1987; IFLA, 1995). Others argue for
based organisations to develop regional informa- an integrated approach that combines improved
tion systems. The most well-known is the Pan- information delivery to both the poor and the
African Documentation and Information System elites (Tiamiyu, 1989; Sturges and Neill, 1990).
(PADIS), begun in 1980 and administered by the The 1993 AAAS report found that all but
Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). Its five of the 31 libraries surveyed had computers,
broad aims are to help African countries to about half of them purchased locally, and most
strengthen their own internal information of them acquired through donor support.
systems, and to set up a decentralised information Nineteen libraries had CD-ROM capability, and
network for the continent. While PADIS has two were expecting to acquire it by the end of
made considerable progress, and publishes useful 1993. African librarians have been keen to
bibliographic indexes, especially concerning acquire CD-ROM technology 'for fear of being
development, it certainly achieved far less in its left behind', in the words of John Newa
first ten years than the investment of $160 million (1993:82), the Director of Library Services at
warranted, partly due to misguided emphasis on the University of Dar es Salaam. At a 1993
expensive information technologies for countries workshop in Harare on new technologies for
with poor telecommunications infrastructures. librarians from 17 libraries in 11 countries in
eastern and southern Africa (including South
Africa), 16 of whom were equipped with
The role of information technology CD-ROMs, there was universal agreement on
This is not to suggest that the latest information the importance of this technology, despite some
technologies should not be acquired, for not to do of its perceived shortcomings. With a few
so would be to reinforce Africa's marginalisation. exceptions, many of the libraries reported
It is simply to point out that basic infrastructural extensive use of the CD-ROM facilities. The
development is essential, and that in themselves University of Zambia Medical Library was
the advanced technologies offer no magic solu- even forced to ration time to 30 minutes per
tion to the challenges of information dissemin- person. Most of the libraries in the AAAS report
ation and scholarly communication facing Africa. subscribed to databases in agriculture and
Many African research libraries, usually with medicine, mainly because of the interest of
donor support, are investing heavily in computer donors, who largely pay for the subscriptions in
and CD-ROM capability, and electronic network- these fields. The notable exception was the library
ing (AAS and AAAS, 1992). To its champions, of Cheikh Anta Diop, which had a significant
the CD-ROM is a wonder-technology that is number of CD-ROM databases in the social
universally appropriate: not only can it hold huge sciences (Levey, 1993:13-16).
amounts of data, it is durable, cheap to mail, Computers and CD-ROM technologies have
requires no special handling, storage space, or breathed new life into Africa's ailing research
telecommunication facilities, and can withstand library systems, although they pose their own
climatic extremes, power cuts, and the ravages of problems, and reinforce some old ones. Lack of
insects and fungi. The potentialities of advanced relevant technical expertise locally and among
18 Development and Patronage

librarians often leads to poor choice of product, The struggle for knowledge
and installation and maintenance difficulties. One
African librarians are fully aware of these
study reports, for example, that 'the librarian of
problems, and many realise the importance of
the University of Ghana Medical School had no
national and regional cooperation, although
one in Ghana to whom to turn when he had trouble
declared intentions tend to predominate over
installing his CD-ROM drive, for his is the first
concrete action.6 But even if the question of
library with CD-ROM in the country. Ultimately
access to citations and documents were resolved,
he called New York to receive instructions over
Africa's knowledge base would not necessarily
the phone' (Levey, 1991:12). But long-distance
improve, for these databases like the bulk of
advice can be costly and inappropriate, as the
the journals and books imported into most of the
librarian of the University of Zimbabwe Medical
continent's libraries primarily contain North-
School discovered after buying a non-compatible
ern scholarship. Production costs for CD-ROM
CD drive 'on the basis of advice from our New
databases are still prohibitive for any aspiring
York software vendors' (Levey, 1991:12).
African publisher, although efforts are being
These technologies of course do not come
made to create local databases.7 Besides, the
cheap, so the question of funding remains.
publisher would have to develop extensive
Besides the one-off equipment costs, which rise
scholarly, marketing, and support networks.
each time local currencies are devalued, there is
Northern database publishers are still largely
the high recurrent cost of subscription to data-
unwilling or unable to incorporate bibliographic
bases. Training costs can also be high and recur-
records from the South. By the mid-1980s there
rent, especially since the technology is growing
were an estimated 700 databases of direct concern
and changing rapidly. It is essential to budget for
to Africa located outside the continent; the figure
CD-ROM subscriptions for the long run, because
has most probably risen with the explosion in
subscribers are usually allowed to use the
electronic communications since then (Seeley,
databases only for the duration of the subscription
1986). Not only are these databases difficult to
and may be requested to return the disks should
access within Africa itself, but their input of
their subscriptions run out unlike journals,
African research and publications is abysmal. For
which a library keeps when its subscription lapses
example, fewer than one per cent of more than
(Levey, 1992). Not surprisingly, there is report-
36,000 items on Africa contained in the
edly a handful of libraries with CD-ROMs who
FRANCIS data file (with one million items in
do not use them because they have no funds to
total), produced by the French Centre National de
purchase subscriptions. Of the 16 libraries with
la Recherche Scientifique as of March 1986, were
CD-ROMs surveyed by the AAAS in 1991, only
published in Africa (Sturges and Neill, 1990: 64-
four indicated they had funding for subscriptions
5). In the case of even the best of these data-bases,
in the future. Nor do literature searches guarantee
FAO's Agricultural Information System (AGRIS),
the users access to the documents identified.
only 25 per cent of the content derives from the
Given the inadequacy of many African research
developing countries.
libraries' serials collections, bibliographic data-
bases that do not contain abstracts are virtually
useless (Patrikios, 1992: 30-7). Few donors The need to reclaim African studies
include document delivery as an integral part of
The marginality of African knowledge is evident
their grants for database subscriptions, and
even in scholarly communication networks that
supplying photocopies from Europe and North
call themselves Africanist. Overseen by gate-
America, as is sometimes done, is costly and
keepers located in well-endowed universities, the
cumbersome. The document-delivery barriers
Africanist intellectual system, firmly rooted in a
may ease as full-text literature is routinely
Western epistemological order and an academic
published on disk as well as in print form.
culture driven by a ruthless ethos of 'publish or
perish', and consisting of multinational publishing
African libraries and the consumption and production of knowledge 19

houses, university presses, journals, peer-review Mkandawire, CODESRIA's executive secret-


networks, citation and bibliographic conventions, ary and a keen observer of the two scholarly com-
has little room for alien views, voices, and visions munities, has noted, for example (1995:4), that in
emanating from Africa itself. On this scholarly the 1980s, while many Africanists were fashion-
treadmill, Africa appears nothing more than a ably bemoaning or applauding the 'exit' of
research object to verify faddish theories that peasants and other exploited social classes from
emerge with predictable regularity in the channel- arenas dominated by the authoritarian post-
surfing intellectualism of Northern academies. colonial State, 'African social scientists moved in
Research on five leading Africanist social science a different direction, casting attention more
and humanities journals published in Britain, towards the study of social movements and demo-
Canada, and the USA showed that between 1982 cracy'. Currently, post-modernism is casting its
and 1992 only 15 per cent of their articles and 10 spell on many in the Africanist fraternity, and
per cent of their book reviews were by Africans some are anxiously covering their mouldy
based in Africa. African authors based in the West African data with its ephemeral fragrance, for-
accounted for a further 9 per cent of the articles and getting proclamations they made in the 1960s that
5 per cent of the reviews (Zeleza, forthcoming). Africa was modernising, in the 1970s that it was
Detailed analysis of the contents of Africanist under-developing, and later that modes of
publications would be revealing. To what extent production were being articulated. Sleeping its
do their themes engage the realities and priorities way through the lost 1980s, Africa somehow
of the communities studied and the genuine woke up in the 1990s to find itself in a post-
research interests of the scholars from those com- modernist universe or it should have, we are
munities, as opposed to research orientations told (Parpart, 1995). To many African scholars on
dictated by the consultancy syndrome or careerist the continent, such arcane preoccupations seem
calculations in situations where publishing in the nadir of intellectual solipsism and decadence.
Western scholarly media carries more weight According to Aina (1995:2), the crisis of African
than publishing within Africa? There is some evi- Studies in North America and Europe is creating
dence to suggest that the agendas of African and
Africanist research communities have grown a process of intellectual reproduction about
more divergent over the years a trend which is Africa that is characterized by sterility, outdated
attributable to changing conditions for African facts and information, casual and ad hoc observ-
studies in the North and the scholarly enterprise in ation, name-calling and sometimes wild specula-
Africa. On the one hand, Africanist scholars tion . It is our argument here thatfor an up to date,
spend less time than they used to in Africa, realistic, correct and appropriate ... understand-
whether in research or teaching, partly because of ing of Africa, the most appropriate and relevant
funding difficulties, reduced salaries in African source is that scholarship and production
universities, and fewer teaching opportunities emanating from or still directly linked to the
resulting from the successful Africanisation of continent in terms of research experience and
faculties. On the other hand, the proportion of reflection; from this living and challenging
African scholars studying for higher degrees in source and expression, no amount of post-
the North, especially in the social sciences and modernist, post-industrialist, post-Marxist or
humanities, has also fallen, because of declining 'post-Nativist' conceptualization or discourse
need, lack of financial resources, the unattract- can take away the relevance, immediacy and
iveness of academic careers, and growing centrality.
immigration restrictions. Contacts are especially
The inescapable conclusion is that importing
poor for what Mkandawire (1995) calls the 'third
knowledge from abroad is no panacea. And for
generation' of African scholars, a point echoed by
Africa to depend on external sources for know-
Guyer (1995) with reference to the younger crop
ledge about itself is a cultural and economic
of aspiring North American Africanists.
travesty of monumental proportions. To use a
phrase from the under-development paradigm,
20 Development and Patronage

African libraries may grow from buying or African publishing:


receiving donations of tons ofjournals and books, constraints and opportunities
and they may acquire the latest information
The challenges of publishing in Africa and other
technologies and the largest databases; but
Third World regions are well known. They
without actually developing, without expanding
include poor infrastructure (in particular,
and strengthening the continent's capacities for
shortages of skilled editors, designers, distribu-
authentic and sustainable knowledge-creation,
tion experts, and readily available and cheap
information-generation, and data-collection.
supplies of printing equipment and paper), as well
More often than not, knowledge produced about
as low literacy rates, language problems, and
Africa from elsewhere is distorted or irrelevant,
meagre incomes and purchasing power
and importing databases or receiving donations
problems which have been exacerbated by the
serves to strengthen the ties of intellectual
recurrent recessions. Promotion and marketing, at
dependency. Sturges and Neill (1990:79) irrever-
home and abroad, remains a critical hurdle for
ently suggest that 'many of the donations that do
many African publishers (Zell, 1995:16-18). For
arrive would be far better if they were pulped.
instance, Nyariki and Makotsi (1995:11) found
This might at least provide some new paper, a
that the promotional and marketing activities
basic resource which Africa needs more urgently
undertaken by many Kenyan publishers are
than other countries' cast-off books.'
ineffective and unprofessional, because they lack
The real challenge, then, is not simply to fill
trained staff. Moreover, widespread government
empty library shelves and acquire gadgets for
intolerance and censorship in many countries
faster information-retrieval, but to produce the
only make matters worse. Nor does the existence
knowledge in the first place; for Africa to study,
of relatively small and fragile academic
read, and know itself, to define itself to itself and
communities help, especially for scholarly
to the rest of the world, and to see that world
publishing. And poorly capitalised indigenous
through its own eyes and not the warped lenses of
publishers must often compete with large
others. There is no substitute for a vigorous
multinational publishing companies, and heavily
intellectual system, of which publishing is an
subsidised State-owned publishing houses.8
integral part. As I have noted elsewhere (Zeleza,
These constraints are real and serious, but they
1994:238):
are not insurmountable. Literacy rates have risen
Only by developing and sustaining our own remarkably in many countries, and 'the much
publishing outlets can there emerge truly African publicised myth that the African mind is orally-
intellectual traditions and communities capable oriented and therefore Africans do not read' is
of directing and controlling the study of Africa, of becoming more threadbare as evidence mounts
defining African problems and solutions, realities that a lot of people actually read for pleasure:
and aspirations, of assessing our achievements Nyariki and Makotsi (1995:11) demonstrate that
andfailures, our pasts andfutures, and of seeing 'a majority 39% of consumers buy books because
ourselves in our own image, not through the of a love of reading'. They also show that the
distortions and fantasies of others. Publishing is number of indigenous publishers in Kenya
critical not only for the cultural identities of doubled to 72 between 1974 and 1994 and that
nations, peoples, classes, and groups. It provides local publishers were producing 60 per cent of the
the material basis for producing, codifying, books on the local market. These trends are
circulating and consuming ideas, which, in turn, confirmed by Hans Zell (1993:373), a seasoned
shape the organisation of productive activities observer of the African publishing scene, who
and relations in society. states that 'despite the overall gloomy picture ...
new indigenous imprints continue to mushroom
all over Africa, and some privately owned firms
have shown a great deal of imaginative entre-
preneurial skill in the midst of adversity'. And the
African libraries and the consumption and production of knowledge 21

formation of the African Books Collective (ABC) to the legitimation structures of Western scholar-
by African publishers in 1989 to undertake the ship. Familiarity with Western intellectual fads,
joint promotion and distribution of African books and publication in the restricted Western
outside the continent, and of the African scholarly media, bestow upon the lucky few
Publishers' Network (APNET) in 1992 to encour- precious reputational capital that can be traded for
age intra-African publishing and trade in books, lucrative consultancies and overseas visiting
underscores the determination of African pub- professorships and conferences. Local journals
lishers to forge ahead.9 become publication outlets of last resort, reposit-
Libraries must do their part. They constitute the ories of second-rate scholarship.
backbone of scholarly publishing. In many parts This must change. African intellectuals need to
of the world, including the industrialised shed their inferiority complexes about their own
countries, libraries provide the major market for work by publishing, without apologies, in
scholarly products. In fact, in the USA, despite journals they control; by reading and citing each
relatively high academic salaries and a large other; by demonstrating a greater faith in their
professorate, it is library purchases, not subscrip- own understanding of their complex and fast-
tions by individuals, that sustain journals. Often changing societies for no one else will do that
libraries generate up to 90 per cent or more of the for them. They cannot continue being unwelcome
income of journals, especially in the medical and guests at other people's intellectual tables.
scientific areas. Having fed for so long on Through their reward structures, facilities, and
Western imports and donations of information ethos, universities should provide the major
materials and technologies .African libraries have sources for intellectual production and markets
not always ventured with enough appetite to for scholarly products. Where the scholarly com-
acquire local publications. For their part, munities are small, cooperative ventures in
publishers bred on the captive school-textbook regional journal publication should be encour-
market are not always aggressive enough in aged. The mission, always, must be to promote
promoting their wares. At the Harare workshop the highest standards of research and scholarly
mentioned above, publishers and librarians took exchange, to repossess the study of Africa, to
each other to task (Patrikios and Levey, 1993:3): define African realities, to understand and
appreciate the African world with all the
Several publishers stated that few African intensity, intelligence, and integrity it deserves.
imprints can be found in African libraries
because librarians are reluctant to order mater-
ials, preferring instead to purchase books from
England or the United States. Nana Tau (librar- Conclusion
ian of Fort Hare University) countered by telling
The manufacturing and distribution of scholarly
of her experience in attempting to obtain informa-
knowledge and information is a major commer-
tion on African imprints in order to place an order
cial and technological enterprise involving
for her library. The lack of response from the
publishers, libraries,educational institutions, and
African publishers whom she wrote requesting
communications companies, linked in elaborate
cataloguesforced her to place orders overseas.
networks requiring vast resources. The news that
On another occasion the Librarian at the we have entered a post-material age in which
University of Makerere pointed out that 'most of words matter more than goods is exaggerated, but
the African journals are possibly not known by the importance of information technologies in the
teaching staff who recommend titles to be sub- development process cannot be denied. But what
scribed by the library' (quoted in Levey, kind of information, produced by and for whom?
1993:11). Unfortunately, he may have been One of the factors behind the information
correct. It is a sad fact that in many African explosion in the Western countries, especially in
universities the processes of hiring and promoting North America, is the pressure to publish, the
staff and allocating research grants are firmly tied centrality of publications and citations in the
22 Development and Patronage

academic enterprise. Publications have become an increase in the number of better foreign-policy
screening mechanisms for hiring, promotion, decisions made by various administrations over
tenure, and granting procedures. The system the same period?
rewards those who generate large amounts of
And one could add: are North Americans much
scholarly literature, however insignificant its
better informed about the rest of the world?
intellectual contribution. Indeed, piles of paper
Indeed, has more information helped them signif-
are churned out to be listed and indexed rather
icantly to transcend their owndivision of race,
than read. And so scholarly information doubles
ethnicity, class, and gender? Will access to the
in volume every seven years. A decade and half
Internet in every home and to a 500 TV-channel
ago it was doubling every 15 years (Birenbaum,
universe do it? Or will that simply lead to more
1995). Information becomes an absolute good, an
fragmentation, to further descent into the abyss of
end itself, an intolerant, insatiable god that
cultural banality so evident in North American
constantly spews data, 'hyperfacts' that require
popular television today?
more powerful databases to keep track of the
existing databases (Roszak, 1993:4). In the What, in short, do the terms 'information-rich'
process, knowledge becomes incidental, a and 'information-poor', which are so carelessly
forgotten atavism. As the information glut grows, bandied about, actually mean in terms of the
there is ever more pressure for excessive special- content of human relationships, the quality of
isation. Meanwhile, as the high priests of the social life, as embodied in the information being
Information Age pray at the altar of citations and manufactured and consumed? To be sure, Africa
chant 'jargons of an almost unimaginable needs to produce more information; its academic
rebarbativeness... society as a whole drifts with- institutions need to reorganise themselves to
out direction or coherence. Racism, poverty, encourage and reward scholarly production and
ecological ravages, disease, and an appallingly productivity; and its libraries need to collect and
widespread ignorance: these are left to the media make this information more accessible within and
and the odd political candidate during an election outside the continent. But the processes of pro-
campaign' (Said, 1993:303). duction, acquisition, retrieval, and outreach can-
not be ends in themselves, if the dangers of
Thus beneath the apparent munificence of the
information over-production and overload,
Western academy, behind the spiralling mount-
currently engulfing the Western world, are to be
ains of information, lies a profound shift away
avoided. Africa must indeed repossess the word.
from human connectedness, from meaningful
But whose word, and to what ultimate purpose? It
social conversation; there is a yawning alienation
must be to elevate, not debase, our humanity.
from the gravity of human existence, from
history. An almost infantile fascination with the
innate and quantifiable, not the poetry of life, of
words, seems to have taken over. The availability Notes
of more information is not in itself a guarantee of
1 This is a revised version of a paper originally
a better society. As Olden (1987:301) reminds us:
presented at the International Book Fair and
the availability of information does not mean that Library Conference, Goteborg, Sweden, 26-29
use can be or will be made of it; that those who do October 1995. My thanks to Al Kagan (Africana
use it are capable or willing to learn from it; or Librarian, the University of Illinois at Urbana-
that what they learn will be usedfor the benefit of Champaign), Dr John Newa (Librarian at the
others. Taken together, United States libraries University of Dar es Salaam), and Karin von
house what is probably the most comprehensive Schlesbriigge of the Swedish International
collection of recorded information and know- Development Agency for their comments, and to
ledge about other countries held by any nation in Tunde Brimah for research assistance.
the world. Has the increase in the size of this 2 The wider questions of the creation of
collection since World War II been paralleled by knowledge and the provision of information for
African libraries and the consumption and production of knowledge 23

the popular classes in the urban or rural areas are References


not addressed here. For a detailed study of the
AAS and AAAS (1992) Electronic Networking
provision of information to rural African com-
in Africa: Advancing Science and Technology for
munities, see IFLA (1995).
Development, Nairobi: African Academy of
3 An interesting example is that of Cote
Sciences and the American Association for the
d'lvoire, where the Telecommunications and
Advancement of Science
Postal Ministry was privatised. The AAAS
Abid, A. (1992) 'Improving access to scientific
stopped sending free journals to the university
literature in developing countries: a Unesco
library, because the latter could not afford to pay
programme review', IFLA Journal, 18/4:315-24
the ministry the levies charged on the journals!
Aina, T. A. (1995) 'Library Acquisitions of
(Levey, 1993:9).
African Books: An Academic Publisher's
4 Many of those concerned about book dumping Viewpoint', paper presented to the APNET Open
in the Third World have suggested that donations Forum: Library Acquisition of African Books,
schemes should be request-led. See Abid (1992). Harare, 2 August
5 A remarkable exception is the programme
Birenbaum, R. (1995) 'Scholarly commun-
initiated by the International African Institute,
ication under siege', University Affairs, Associa-
which in the early 1990s launched a project to
tion of Universities and Colleges of Canada,
distribute 12 African serials, which were selected
August-September: 6
after consultations with African publishers and
Buschman, J. (1992) 'A response', Progressive
research libraries.
Librarian, 5:51-3
6 Only in South Africa do the efforts to integrate
Clow, D. (1986) 'Aid and development the
library systems and resources seem serious, for
context of library-related aid', Libri, 36/2:85-97
instance the Western Cape Cooperative Project
Guyer, J. L. (1995) A Perspective on African
and the Committee on Library Cooperation in
Studies in the United States, Report Submitted to
Natal.
the Ford Foundation
7 The Zimbabwe and Zambia Medical libraries,
IFLA (1995) Seminar on Information Provision
for example, in collaboration with other countries
to Rural Communities in Africa, Uppsala
in Africa, are producing an African Index
University Library: International Federation of
Medicus, while the Bunda College of Agriculture
Library Associations and Institutions
in Malawi has created a bibliographic database of
Kagan, A. (1992) 'Liberation technology',
Malawi's maize research.
Progressive Librarian, 5:47-9
8 The multinational publishing companies can
Lancaster, F. W. (1978) Toward Paperless
be quite opportunistic. For example, they all
Information System, New York: Academic
closed their businesses in Tanzania during the
Levey, L. A. (1991) Computer and CD-ROM
1980s financial crisis and 'returned in the 1990s
Capability in Sub-Saharan African University
when they heard that there would be an allocation
and Research Libraries, Washington: American
of US$60 million from the World Bank for
Association for the Advancement of Science
educational suppliers'! (Mcharazo 1995:245)
Levey, L. A. (1992) 'CD-ROM costs and
9 For a discussion of these organisations and implementation issues', in CD-ROM for African
their activities, see Zeleza 1994; and the 1993-95 Research Needs: 13-22-22
issues of the Bellagio Publishing Network News- Levey, L. A. (ed) (1993) A Profile of Research
letter, published on behalf of the donors which Libraries in Sub-Saharan Africa: Acquisitions,
support African publishing; APNET's organ, Outreach, and Infrastructure, Washington:
African Publishing Review; and The African Book American Association for the Advancement of
Publishing Record. Science
Maack, M. "The role of external aid in West
African library development', Library Quarterly,
56:1-16
24 Development and Patronage

Mcharazo, A. A. S. (1985) summary of S. Aruna- Seeley, J. (1986) 'The use of bibliographic


chalam's 'Accessing Information Published in databases in African studies', African Research
the Third World: Should Spreading the Word and Documentation,4l:l-12
from the Third World Always be Like Swimming Sturges, P. and R. Neill (1990) The Quiet
Against the Current?', paper presented to Struggle: Libraries and Information for Africa,
Workshop on Access to Third World Journals, London: Mansell
The African Book Publishing Record, 20/4:245 Tiamiyu,M.A.(1989) 'Sub-Saharan Africa and
Mchombu, K. J. (1982) 'On the librarianship of the paperless society: a comment and a
poverty', Ubri, 32/3:241-50 counterpoint', Journal of the American Society
Mkandawire, T. (1995) 'Africa's three gener- for Information Science, 40/5:325-8
ations of scholars', Codesria Bulletin, 3:1-3 Zeleza, P. T. (1994) 'Noma Award Acceptance
Newa, J. M. (1993) 'The sustainability of Speech', The African Book Publishing Record,
information technology innovations CD- 20/4:238
ROM at the University of Dares Salaam', in H. A. Zeleza, P. T. (forthcoming) 'Trends and
Patrikios and L. A. Levey (eds) inequalities in the production of knowledge on
Nyariki, L. and R. Makotsi (1995) 'Problems of Africa', forthcoming in M. West and W. Martin
book marketing and distribution in Kenya', (eds), Reconstructing the Study and Meaning of
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paperless society', Journal of the American crisis and the challenge', in Oyekan Owomoyela
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16-18 Zell, H. M. (1995) 'Effective promotion and
Patrikios, H. A. (1992) 'Medline in Zimbabwe', marketing, and the size of the export market for
in CD-ROM for African Research Needs: 30-7-7 African books', African Publishing Review
Patrikios, H. A. (1993) 'A minimal acquisitions 4/2:16-18
policy for journals at the University of Zimbabwe
Medical Library', in Patrikios and Levey (eds)
Patrikios, H. A. and L. A. Levey (eds) (1993) The author
Survival Strategies in African University
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Information, Proceedings from a Workshop, African Studies and Director of the Center for
University of Zimbabwe, Harare African Studies of the University of Illinois at
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the fate of the Earth', Progressive Librarian, 6/7: published in Development in Practice Volume 6
3-14 Number 4, in 1996.
Said, E. (1983) Culture and Imperialism. New
York: Alfred Knopf
25

People's empowerment from the


people's perspective1
Karunawathie Menike

Why are the poor silent? the Poor do not take the initiative to empower
themselves not because they don't want to be
The word 'empowerment' is not unfamiliar to
empowered or because they lack the knowledge
us. It implies that we, the Poor, lack power to
and the capacity to do so; or because they don't
improve the quality of our lives. It also implies
understand that they can improve their own
that we lack the necessary strength and capacity
condition through their own empowerment. If
to improve our own condition. Numerous
the Poor are silent, it is because they have a deep
programmes are initiated by governments and
experiential understanding of their own reality.
NGOs in developing countries, to 'empower'
It is little realised that the Poor not only possess
the Poor. We do not oppose these. But while we
a depth of knowledge about their present social
agree they are well intended, we doubt whether
environment, but they also have visions about
they are correctly conceived. When we look at
what they would like to see and towards which
these programmes, we get a feeling that most of
they would like to move. But the visions of the
them, whether initiated by governments or by
Poor are not Utopian like those of intellectuals
NGOs, are based on the false assumption that
and others who are removed from the earthy
we, the Poor, do not know how to overcome our
realities of life in poor communities.
poverty and improve our own condition; that we
do not have knowledge about the cause of our
poverty and how to overcome it; and that we are
lethargic and tend to accept our poverty as our Our strongest tool is strategy
fate. It is on this premise that many well-
intentioned NGOs and government officials We are in no hurry to launch upon an accelerated
develop their programmes for empowering us. journey to empowerment. We know that in the
They seem to want to enter our villages to shake social, economic, and political conditions in
us up and wake us from what they think is our which we are placed, this would be not only
slumber and tell us that we must take our future unrealistic but self-destructive. The Poor have
into our own hands to create ways of improving their own pace and own rhythm of empower-
our quality of life. ment: a rhythm that is born out of wisdom and
experience and not out of planning on a drawing
For us, all this is quite hilarious. Those who
board, sitting under a fan in a comfortable urban
plan their 'empowerment' interventions clearly
office. The Poor know full well that if they want
do not understand our reality, our priorities, our
to empower themselves which they do it
wishes, our thought processes, our constraints,
has to be done very carefully. When doing this in
and our needs. They do not understand that often
26 Development and Patronage

an environment which in every sense is against poverty, because they know the reasons much
us, we know full well that our strongest tool is better than their Colombo-appointed teachers
strategy not force and not power. We know can explain. Secondly, a government in a hurry
that if we try to act fast in a hostile environment, recruits officers in a hurry. These officers lack
we could easily trip and fall. When a badly the skill to understand the social environment of
strategised empowerment effort fails, as often our villages or to appreciate the wisdom of the
happens when it is done under pressure for Poor. Instead they act like parrots, preaching to
accelerated action, the repercussions are severe. the people what they have memorised from the
The Poor do not want to fall from the frying pan lecture notes given to them by their trainers.
into thefire,because they cannot afford to do so. They tell the people that they are poor because
What seems to you to be our silence, our reti- the village trader is exploiting them, or because
cence, our ignorance, and our lack of purpose is of the bad conduct and lack of commitment of
really in fact our strength, our wisdom, and our village-level officials. They tell us that we are
knowledge. poor because we don't get from the existing
The Poor certainly know what has to be done system the resources that are our due. They even
and how we should act in order to overcome our take it upon themselves to attack the people's
poverty and improve our quality of life. Precise- voluntary organisations that have been function-
ly for this reason, we do not want to make the ing in our villages for centuries and are a valu-
critical moves and act in the way many govern- able instrument of survival. They tell us that
ments and NGOs want us to act, until the these organisations are corrupt. At the same
environment matures to the point when such time, they try to create dreams of instant prosper-
action will bring positive rather than negative ity and liberation which confuse us unnecess-
results. The Poor know that the processes of arily. As a result, we find a lot of conflicts
development and poverty alleviation are necess- developing among the Poor in our villages.
arily slow and have to be pursued with care and Irresponsible interventions of this kind are
circumspection. The Poor are not willing to act not only unnecessary but can also be very
in a hurry. They are anchored, strongly anchor- harmful. For one thing, what they tell the people
ed, in their own experience: the body of know- is nothing new. We know whether the trader is
ledge and experience that has sustained them exploiting us or not. We can judge for ourselves
under the most adverse conditions. whether the voluntary organisations in our
The Poor know how government and NGOs village are corrupt or not. We have the
in many Southern countries are in a mad hurry to intelligence to judge for ourselves the positive
carry out programmes for empowering them. and negative actions of village-level govern-
They also know the reasons for that urgency. ment officials. We do not need a bunch of
Politicians are interested in votes. Naturally they outsiders to come to our villages and insult our
are anxious to do something for the Poor, who intelligence by assuming that we cannot under-
form the majority of voters. The result of hurried stand our social environment for ourselves. It is
empowerment programmes chasing after short- not necessary for outsiders who lack the
term results is the creation of a lot of confusion. maturity or the skills to understand the subtleties
and realities of rural processes to come to our
villages and confuse our people. It is high time
Lessons from Sri Lanka that these well-meaning outsiders learned to
respect our knowledge, intelligence, and values.
Let me give you one example from my own For now, the Poor know how to act strategically
country, Sri Lanka. The government has started in their environment to improve their conditions
sending hurriedly recruited, rapidly trained paid step by step, inch by inch, without antagonising
officers to 'teach the villagers the reasons for the other elements of rural society, who, if
their poverty'. In the first place, there is nothing roused by aggressiveness on the part of the Poor,
to teach the Poor about the reasons for their could move fast and make things very much worse.
People's empowerment from the people's perspective 27

The Poor have, through centuries of are forced to implement their programmes in a
experience, developed an effective system of hurry and produce instant results to please their
managing their environment. We plan our donors. In order to show the progress they have
strategy very carefully. We do not confront the made, and qualify for more funding, NGOs have
village trader, because it can be counter- to send regular progress reports. So they have to
productive to do so. In fact, we become friendly tell the donor agencies that they have created 50
with him, and while on the one hand we get new jobs, 100 new jobs, and so on. Therefore,
access to his market through our friendship with irrespective of their feasibility, projects are often
him, on the other, through our co-operation with imposed on the people by NGOs with foreign
him, we get his profits invested in the village donor support.
itself rather than in the town. We know how to The Poor are intelligent. Please have no doubt
strategise our relationship with the middleman. about that. We know that often NGO projects are
In our case, the village middlemen never nothing but conglomerations of activities that
confront us. We have a strategy of collaborating are implemented to make somebody abroad
with rather than confronting the other social happy, or to be able to send beautiful reports to
elements in our village, and strategising the please a donor sitting in a foreign country, bliss-
collaboration in such a way that we move fully oblivious of the reality on the ground. As
towards our own objectives at a slow but easy for the Poor, when projects that are not really
pace, without antagonising any one, and keeping feasible because they have been planned to fit
everyone on good terms with us. This is the into the priorities and dreams of urban NGOs
management system that is used by the rural and foreign donors are introduced in their
poor, strongly influenced by the values and villages, they accept them. They don't reject or
norms that are a part of our heritage. However, it oppose them, because, in their poverty, they feel
is precisely the norms, the values, and the that some little benefit might eventually be
management systems of the Poor that govern- derived from them. Poverty is indeed relieved by
ment programmes and NGOs often tend to such projects to a small extent. The resources
destroy through their wrongly conceived inter- that come into our villages, even through ill-
ventions and programmes. conceived projects, certainly make our poverty a
little more comfortable to endure. But we pay a
heavy price for that little comfort. These falsely
guided interventions create lots of confusion and
Why are NGOs in such a hurry? problems because they are imposed on, and not
So far, I have been speaking of some of the planned by, the Poor. The social and economic
limiting factors in governmental programmes of distortions that result from many such inter-
popular empowerment. Development NGOs ventions create new problems that the Poor
also promote many empowerment programmes. never encountered before. In many villages,
They too are in a mighty hurry to implement instead of empowerment and economic devel-
these and produce instant results. We Poor know opment, economic deterioration, cultural degen-
why. Most NGOs are linked to foreign donor eration, and political confusion follow in their
agencies. Not being financially self-reliant, wake. The contradictions between the genuine
NGOs enter into contracts regarding the imple- aspirations, pace, and rhythm of the Poor on the
mentation of project proposals. As I know from one hand and the well-intentioned but ill-
my own association with NGOs who provide conceived programmes implemented 'for' the
support services for popular organisations such Poor by governments and NGOs on the other are
as my own, every project is time-bound. Imple- very important to bear in mind when we talk
mentation is limited to one, two, or three years. about 'People's Empowerment'.
In my experience, the maximum period is three There are other more dangerous and serious
years. Because of the pressures from the funding aspects to some of the interventions that are
agencies with whom they sign contracts, NGOs made in the name of People's Empowerment.
28 Development and Patronage

We have experienced that any organisation, I am sorry to say that, in the name of develop-
whether governmental or NGO, has to sign a ment projects, there are several instances where
bond or agreement with the donors. As a result of attempts to destroy our culture and our values
these aid contracts, foreigners who have no are taking place in Sri Lanka. Let me relate one
knowledge about the aspirations or the real of my experiences. One day there was a pro-
conditions of the Poor get the opportunity to gramme organised for women in our area in the
realise their own desires and to impose their own preaching hall of our village temple. All the
values, their own norms, and their own concepts participants were seated in the preaching hall. A
about society on us. vehicle came and stopped just in front of the
entrance and the lecturer walked inside. He did
not even bother to look around: straight away he
started his lecture. Ours is largely a Buddhist
Cultural values must be respected
village, and our Buddhist values are strongly
Let me once again speak from my own personal opposed to the taking of life. The lecturer taught
experience. Let me assume that some foreign us about poultry keeping and how we could rear
country wants ours to be transformed into a thousands and thousands of chickens and sell
playground where people from developed them for meat. He taught us how to generate
countries can come for enjoyment and pleasure. thousands of rupees in 45 days. Next he taught us
We, the Poor, have enough experience about how to rearfishin the lakes where we bathe, and
what the rich and influential people of our how we could kill them and sell for the money.
country are like. They keep one foot here and What do these people expect to achieve by
one foot abroad. There are many organisations encouraging Buddhists to kill animals? Is it only
including a few NGOs and private business to help us empower ourselves economically?
companies who would not mind helping Do they only want to make us rich? Oh my God!
those foreign countries to convert our mother- don't you understand that they are trying slowly
land into a playground, if this would bring them to dominate us with their money, destroy the
a few sacks of money. So long as they can get values that have maintained us for 2,500 years
money, they are not bothered about what will and, by making us effectively non-Buddhists in
happen to the motherland. What prevents this our villages, break down the cultural barrier that
from happening is the barrier represented by our stands in the way of complete domination of our
traditional culture, its norms, and its values. In countries by avaricious outsiders? If they think
my part of the country, it is the Buddhist culture that we do not understand their intentions, let me
and the organised Buddhist establishment that tell them with all the force that a poor village
has always strongly objected to activities that are woman like me can gather, that we understand
destructive of the interests of the Poor. It is the their intentions very well, but we are too poor
Poor, and not those with one foot in this country and powerless to resist them. I remember how,
and one foot abroad, who have built up and during the lecture, an old woman commented
protected this barrier. It is not the economic sarcastically, 'If we can earn so much from
system or the political culture that prevents the rearing chickens, why doesn't the priest do the
sell-out of our country and our people to foreign same, and use the money to construct his own
interests. It is the cultural barrier,provided in my temple? Then we wouldn't need to keep raising
part of the country by the norms and values of funds for the temple by organising fairs.' She
Buddhism, and in other parts of the country by
murmured this sadly and defiantly. The lecturer
the equally rich traditions and values of Hindu-
did not hear her. Our people know the implica-
ism, Christianity, and Islam, that serves to
tions of these programmes, but they don't want
protect the poor from total domination.
to make it public, because they are scared and
I am sorry to say that in my own experience I have no power to oppose. At the same time,
have seen many attempts to break these cultural because of their poverty, quite a few people are
barriers by tempting the Poor with their money. attracted by such programmes and do participate
People's empowerment from the people's perspective 29

in them. Please do not misunderstand me. I am Empowering the poor means


not trying to say that it is only Buddhist values trusting the poor
that are being destroyed. From what I know,
I repeat, I am not for a moment saying that all
these same forces are also destroying Hindu
NGO and government programmes that are
values in Hindu villages, Christian values in
implemented for People's Empowerment are
Christian villages, and Islamic values in Islamic
counter-productive and disempowering. What I
villages: it is a process that tries to destroy the
do maintain is that the majority of such pro-
cultural roots of the Poor be they Buddhists,
grammes are well intended but badly conceived.
Hindus, Christians, or Muslims.
What I am trying to say on behalf of the Poor is
What is the final outcome of these that many government officials and NGO
manoeuvres which are perpetrated in the name leaders do not see reality from our angle. My
of People's Empowerment? The people's plea is that you should make a real effort to put
culture is destroyed, and with it the roots and the yourself in our position, in the position of the
anchorage of the Poor. The power of the people Poor, and look at the reality as we see it. I appeal
deteriorates and in its wake follows economic to you that, in the programmes that you plan, you
and social deterioration. We get thrown into should leave no room for the destruction of our
further dependency on foreign countries, and traditional cultures and our traditional values, in
our power is further weakened. Our humane the name of People's Empowerment. We, the
system of managing our social and political Poor, do not have much decision-making power
environment gets replaced by the inhumane, or strength within the overall order of things. We
technical, materialistic management system of have a little power, which we maximise through
the North. Our culture teaches us that we should the application of our wisdom and through the
not destroy and punish those who have done careful planning of our own strategies of
wrong. Our own values teach us how we can empowerment. / appeal to you do not do
reform a person who has done wrong and bring anything, even with the best of intentions, that
him or her back to the mainstream of society, and will destroy the little power and strength we
how such a person can re-integrate with society possess. If you want to empower the Poor, please
and come back to a more balanced pattern of life. first trust the Poor. The People can teach you
But see what is happening to the values of our and not the other way round. Please do not come
communities because of the small-scale savings to teach the Poor and impose your values and
and credit schemes that are being introduced, strategies on us because of your false notion that
through governmental programmes and NGO the Poor are ignorant, lethargic, and need to be
initiatives. What do the organisations and shaken up. Don't insult the Poor. Allow the
agencies that provide the capital for these People's Movements to take their own deci-
schemes insist should be done in the case of loan sions, and to plan and manage their resources.
defaulters? 'Isolate the man or woman,' they Let them seek solutions to their own problems.
say. 'Don't associate with him or her; use social I do not say that the Popular Organisations
pressure: ostracise the defaulter. Get the money and Popular Movements do not need or want the
back somehow.' So with one hand they give us help and co-operation of NGOs. We need your
aid, and with the other hand they impose values support. But let us decide and you support us.
which are destructive of our own principles We are not ready to let you decide for us we
values which in my view are evil and unaccep- have not mandated you to do so. We need your
table. In the name of Aid, in the name of support for implementing our own decisions.
Empowerment, we become culturally dis- You may support us in technology, in marketing,
empowered. What a destruction. What a price in accessing resources, in building our
we pay for Aid. And remember, it is all done in institutions, in solving a problem, or in helping
the name of People's Empowerment. us understand the workings of the wider world.
But instead of imposing your decisions on us,
30 Development and Patronage

which unfortunately you tend to do, give the and that we therefore cannot be allowed to
power to the Poor, so that we may decide participate. In my experience as a peasant
through our own organisation when and how to woman, IRED has always taken a different
obtain the support we want, both from NGOs position on these matters. Our peasant organisa-
and from the government. Support us but tions have associated with IRED since 1986.
don't direct us. We would like to direct you, IRED has always given pride of place to the
because we are the Poor and you are our people, their values, their norms, their cultures,
supporters. Give the power to the Poor to choose and their way of doing things. In all the IRED
the kind of development they want and to choose meetings that I have attended in Sri Lanka, they
their support services for themselves. If have provided a place of honour for our national
resources are directly transferred to Popular languages, Sinhala and Tamil, and provided a
Organisations instead of through NGOs, the platform for the Poor to articulate their
people will be empowered to decide what priorities, aspirations, needs, and problems.
support services they require, and from what
NGOs and agencies they should obtain them.
I would like to see the day when NGOs will Notes
have to provide the services that the people want,
and not the services that the donors and other 1 This is an adapted extract from the keynote
agencies choose to deliver to the people. NGOs, speech delivered by Mrs Menike at the Asian
whose support we will always want, will then Regional Colloquy held in Colombo, Sri Lanka,
become more efficient and effective, because in July 1992, entitled 'People's Empowerment
they will have to compete with each other to in Asia Myth or Reality', organised by IRED.
provide what the people require and for which The full speech is published by IRED's
the people will have the resources to pay. There Development Support Services (DSS): Asia, as
will be competition among NGOs to provide an Occasional Paper entitled 'People's Empow-
these services. They will then try to do their best. erment as the People See It'.
Then, and then alone, will there be real change. 2 IRED (Development Innovations and Net-
Then it can be said more truthfully that the works), based in Geneva, facilitates exchanges
people have been empowered. People will then of experience among grassroots organisations,
get the power to maintain their self-respect and, promotes the development of new networks and
if necessary, to reject those foreign donor group federations, and provides technical
agencies who do not want to support the support in a wide range of organisational and
decisions of the Poor or the proposals of NGOs technical skills.
who are responding to them. The Poor do not
want you to impose your programmes to
empower us. We know how to empower our- The author
selves. We want your support for our decisions.
In conclusion, it is my duty to say something Karunawathie Menike is a peasant leader from
about our host IRED.2 I am grateful to IRED Wilpotha in north-west Sri Lanka. At the time of
on behalf of the rural poor and especially on writing, she was Chairperson of the People's
behalf of the rural women for giving us an Rural Development Association (PRDA),
opportunity to participate in an international which brings together the business, scientific,
colloquy. There are always conferences to talk and professional communities of Sri Lanka, as
about us, the Poor. But almost never are we, the well as development NGOs and community-
Poor, given an opportunity to participate in based organisations, to promote employment
them. We are told that we don't know English, and income generation through small-enterprise
don't know how to use the big words that are development in the rural sector. This article first
used at these conferences, don't understand all appeared in Development in Practice Vol 3
the nonsense that is being spoken in our name, Number3inl993.
31

Building partnerships between


Northern and Southern NGOs
Alan Fowler

Introduction experiences mainly from eastern and southern


Africa, issues are identified that are likely to
All development decades have their emphases. influence the negotiation of NGO partnerships
The 1980s were dominated by an economic in the 1990s. In concluding, the search for
ideology of adjustment, coupled with an institu- partnership is placed within the context of
tional doctrine promoting private enterprise and current thinking about the 'third' or 'value-
encouraging non-government organisations driven' sector in society.
(NGOs).1 The stress on privatising development
has led to sharp increases in official aid to
NGOs, giving rise to a rapid growth in their
numbers worldwide, as well as provoking new
Northern NGOs
debates about the desired relationship and
History and growth in numbers
division of labour between NGOs in the North
and South.2 A common conclusion of these The tradition of private foreign aid dates back to
dialogues is that 'partnerships' have to be created the mid-seventeenth century; the involvement of
between them. Unfortunately, the term 'partner- secular voluntary agencies in development
ship' is so ill-defined and so over-used that it is began in the mid-nineteenth century. While
in danger of losing a serviceable meaning. often linked to missionary activity, European
Rather than elaborate on the content of NGO NGOs did not, even then, restrict themselves
partnerships, as has been done by others, this only to the 'good works' of charity and welfare.
article tries to further the discussion in two ways. Lobbying governments and other advocacy
Firstly, it responds to a frequent complaint of work of NGOs is not just a recent affair; for
many NGO leaders that they are disadvantaged example, it is to be found in their opposition and
when negotiating with Northern NGOs about rallying against the slave trade. Broadly speaking,
partnership, because they know less about however, the emergence of Northern NGOs
Northern counterparts than the counterparts specifically interested in development of the
know about them. 'Not transparent' is an Third World has religious roots and is a pheno-
expression often used by Southern NGO leaders menon of the last 50 years. (Oxfam, for example,
to describe their perception of Northern NGOs. was founded in 1942 and CARE in 1945.)
The primary concern of this article, therefore, is The role of Northern NGOs in Third World
to counter such an imbalance by providing a development has grown steadily. From being
general review of Northern NGOs, their origins, obscure, peripheral development actors in the
growth, and contexts. Secondly, by drawing on 1950s, 1960s, and much of the 1970s, NGOs
32 Development and Patronage

moved to the centre of the stage in the 1980s. The growth of NGO income from official
Available (but not altogether reliable) figures3 sources has been much higher than that from the
suggest that the total number of development general public.
NGOs in the North (OECD countries) in 1987
The value of the total resources transferred from
was in the order of 2,540, up from 350 in 1900.
NGOs to the Third World accounts for about 15
In 1981, an estimated 1,700 NGOs (excluding
per cent of total overseas development assistance.
the denominational church-based development
organisations) were involved in Third World In 1984,59 per cent of Canadian NGOs obtained
development, indicating a growth of 50 per cent more than half of their funds from the Canadian
in nine years. The current total of Northern government, compared with 48 per cent of
NGOs includes the following: NGOs in 1980. By comparison, in 1982, only 14
per cent of Dutch NGOs obtained more than half
about 1,400 in Western Europe;
of their funds from government sources.
approximately 190 in Japan;
about 700 in the USA; Many multilateral agencies, such as the World
some 250 in Canada (up from 67 in 1968/69, Bank, International Labour Organization (ILO),
with 16 per cent of all Canadian development United Nations Development Programme
NGOs being founded in the five-year period (UNDP), and the Food and Agriculture
1980-85). Organization (FAO), have developed special
funds for and relationships with NGOs. In fact
The growth of Northern NGOs is likewise
all official agencies now appear to have an 'open
reflected in their presence in the South. For
door' policy towards NGOs.
example, foreign NGOs registered in Kenya
increased by 260 per cent in the period 1977-78. The amount of direct funding from official
Indigenous NGOs increased by 156 per cent in donors to Southern NGOs is (conservatively)
the same period. estimated to haverisenfrom US$10.5 million in
1980 to US$37 million in 1983, and to have
grown even more strongly since then.
Growth in resources
Thesefiguresshow two distinct trends. First, the
The increase in Northern NGOs has been more
dependence of the NGO development sector on
than matched by the growth in the financial
ODA is undergoing a phenomenal increase, far
resources they use to support development in the
above the economic growth rates of their
South. However, Northern NGOs are raising
countries. Second, more and more NGOs are in
less money themselves, and are channelling
danger of becoming quasi-governmental, as the
more from the official development assistance
proportion of official funding they enjoy
(ODA) of governments, as the following
overtakes that from private donors. A direct
figures4 indicate:
implication for Southern NGOs in any
The funds raised by NGOsfromthe public for partnership discussion in the 1990s is that they
Third World relief and development rose from should ascertain the actual sources of Northern
US$1.3 billion in 1975 to US$4.2 billion in 1988 NGOs' funds. For without such insight it will be
(the rate of growth of the increase in public difficult to assess what a potential partner can or
donations was almost twice as high in other cannot negotiate about, and the degree of control
OECD countries as in the USA).5 which they may or may not have over decisions.

The funds from ODA channelled to NGOs for


development increased to US$2.3 billion in
1988, an increase of 310 per cent since 1975. Northern NGOs in context
This amounts to 4.6 per cent of total ODA.
Any generalisations about the origins and
Nowadays, 34 per cent of the total funds used by
characteristics of Northern NGOs and the
Northern NGOs comes from official sources.
Building partnerships between Northern and Southern NGOs 33

environment in which they operate will not do divisions) of Dutch society. Very many facets of
justice to any one NGO or country. But not to Dutch civil and political life are divided along
generalise would be even less helpful to Protestant, Catholic, and secular lines. This is
Southern NGOs trying to understand the NGO the case with schools, trade unions, television,
sector in the North. As Chambers says, 'with and radio broadcasting. The consequent division
today's centralization of power and communi- of political parties along such lines allows a
cations ... we have to generalize: not to do so is to natural affinity between these parties and the
generalize by default. The problem is how to do four co-financing NGOs: CEBEMO (Catholic),
it better.'6 ICCO (Protestant), NOVIB (secular), and
HIVOS (humanist). The security of funding and
autonomy noted above for the political affiliates
Origins: the sources of diversity are also usually enjoyed by these NGOs.
Northern NGOs are as diverse as the contexts in
which they have grown: they cannot be easily A concern to promote (national) values
labelled by type. The first important point to be Most, if not all, Western societies are concerned
made, therefore, is that they are heterogeneous: to promote the basic values which have enabled
no two are the same, and all strive to maintain them to overcome mass poverty and evolve as
their individual identities. In fact, promoting representative democracies. Therefore, NGOs
identity is an important component in negotiat- are funded to further these values broadly
ing partnerships a point we will return to later. translated into improving human well-being
The origins of Northern NGOs and the con- all over the world, with some pursuing specific
stituencies they relate to are diverse and often concerns such as human rights, justice, and the
complex. Following are some of the factors that rule of law. Examples are Oxfam, various child-
have influenced the formation, character, and sponsorship agencies, Amnesty International,
agendas of Northern NGOs. Africa Watch, Asia Watch, and the Anti-Slavery
Society. Moreover, all Northern NGOs tend to
Political affiliations reflect and are expected to express and advance
Some NGOs trace their roots directly to a the values of the (segment of) society from
political party or movement in their country. which they have grown.
Examples are the German Stiftungs (Founda-
tions) named after various German political Ideological identification
party leaders, such as Friedrich Ebert, Konrad Some Northern NGOs find their roots in a
Adenauer, and Hans Seidel. Norwegian particular ideological imperative, often derived
People's Aid is closely affiliated to the Norweg- from a specific social analysis. Examples are
ian Labour Party. These 'political' NGOs groups set up to support Tanzania's Ujamaa
represent the thinking and interests of particular experiment, or to show solidarity with the free-
socio-economic groupings. Their political origins dom struggle in Zimbabwe and Mozambique;
and on-going influence virtually guarantee them and action groups working against apartheid
long-term funding from the central government, through boycotts of South African produce.
irrespective of the party in power. Such NGOs
can also maintain substantial autonomy from the Issues
government of the day. NGOs can arise from special issues which
confront the North, but then develop a concern
Social, cultural, and religious structures for the same issue in the South. Examples are
A feature similar but not identical to the above is NGOs concerned with environmental pollution
the class of NGOs which reflect major social and protection, women and gender, abortion,
structures within a country. An example are the and access to information. Issues that stimulate
four co-financing NGOs of the Netherlands the creation of a Northern NGO can also
which reflect the verzuiling (denominational emanate from the South. Recent Southern crises
34 Development and Patronage

of hunger, drought, and famine in the Sahel region promote sustainable development for the poor.
of Africa have spawned a number of new Northern The confluence of political ideology and NGO
NGOs. BandAid/LiveAid was formed to help to pressure has now dramatically increased the
alleviate the consequences of the Ethiopian famine. resources available to NGOs. The increased
The Hunger Project in the USA was set up to availability of official aid has stimulated a surge
draw attention to the whole question of African in the registration of new NGOs, and increased
agriculture and food security. Obviously their dependence on it. Hence, many NGOs are a
communication and the media can play a large product of the space and resources newly
role in determining what constitutes a Southern available to them. The type of NGO produced by
'issue'. This can be open to manipulation by this situation can be described as responsive or
groups wishing to gain from the plight of others. opportunistic, depending on your viewpoint.

Personal identifications and institutional Constituency


similarities One of the more difficult questions to answer for
Occasionally, Northern NGOs are formed as a Northern (and Southern) NGOs is: from which
result of the personal identification of indi- constituency in society does an NGO derive its
viduals in the North with a specific group or legitimacy? By what mandate does a develop-
situation in the South, or with institutions that ment NGO have a right to set itself up? The
have inherent similarities. Examples are the answers to these questions are sometimes clear,
'adoption' or twinning of a school in the South but often they are not, and this leaves room for
with a school in the North because of an expatriate abuse. NGOs created in response to easier
who has worked in both. Northern NGOs may be accessibility of official funding seldom have a
set up to become involved in Third World constituency at all. They are effectively owned
development because they have an institutional by individuals, but choose non-profit legal status
partner in the South. Religious NGOs Christian in order to gain easier access to funding. It is
and Islamic are created on the basis of their difficult to envisage what a partnership with
obvious (historical) relations with Southern these NGOs may entail, beyond a mutual
religious groups. Boy Scouts and Girl Guides, interest in gaining access to money.
trade unions, Rotary Clubs, and professional Tracing the roots of an NGO should clarify
bodies may also become partners in development, the constituency issue, but all too frequently
although they may not create a special organisa- results in a questioning of the personal motiva-
tion to do so. The South-North 'twinning' of tions of an NGO's founders and staff. The
towns and cities is another example of NGO problem of how Northern NGOs derive legit-
initiative springing from institutional similarity imacy for their existence from the poor in the
and identification. Third World, who are often their raison d'etre, is
thorny but increasingly relevant. Crudely put,
The market the more definite the constituency of an NGO
NGOs can also emerge as a response to an in terms of an identifiable Northern public and
increasing availability of resources and capacity their funding the higher its legitimacy is
to lobby. This is clearly the case in North likely to be, as its mandate is tied to support from
America. Because two sets of inter-related and accountability to the public at large.
dynamics stimulated NGO growth in the 1980s,
it is difficult to separate cause and effect. In the Purpose
last decade, ruling political parties in the West All NGOs involved in Third World relief and
have adopted privatisation policies, aimed at development will probably have stated publicly
reducing the role of government in the economy that their overall purpose is the improvement of
and public life. However, NGOs have long been the lives and situations of the (poorer) people of
lobbying for increased government support for the Third World. Some NGOs go on to define
their sector, arguing that they are better placed to themselves by specifying the following:
Building partnerships between Northern and Southern NGOs 35

a particular set of intended beneficiaries of done using the above points as a guide);
their efforts: disabled people, the poorest of the secondly, the Southern NGO must determine
poor, women, children, single parents, pregnant exactly where the Northern NGO's resources
teenagers, religious groups, trade unionists, co- come from and under what conditions. These
operatives, refugees, the marginalised, entre- insights are a prerequisite for any move towards
preneurs, etc.; negotiating a partnership. From this knowledge
base, the items noted in subsequent sections of
particular problem(s) to be addressed: world-
this article should be taken into consideration as
wide and localised inequity; access to water,
discussions progress.
health care, education, family planning, credit;
sustainable agriculture; appropriate technology;
environmental degradation; communication;
policy analysis, etc. Negotiating partnerships with
Northern NGOs
Method The quest for NGO partnerships during the last
The methods used by Northern NGOs to attain five to ten years has already revealed a number
their purposes can be of difficulties that can arise in the process. In all
probability these problems will grow in the
direct, by undertaking development activities
1990s as the NGO sector continues to expand
themselves in the South (for example, PLAN,
and its role vis a vis the State becomes both
CARE, and ActionAid); or
clearer and more contested. But, equally
indirect: in the South by assisting existing important, the way that partnerships are sought,
local organisations (for example NOVIB, negotiated, and formed will affect the nature of
ICCO, Christian Aid, Oxfam, World Educa- Southern NGOs in their own development
tion); in the North by development education arena. It is therefore critical that Southern NGOs
activities, lobbying, and analytical studies (for comprehend the grounds on which Northern
example, the World Development Movement in NGOs choose to pursue partnerships, and the
Britain and the Development Group for crucial issues that arise in negotiation. Follow-
Alternative Policies (D-GAP) in the USA). ing are some of them.
Frequently, Northern NGOs use more than one
of these methods. NGOs that raise money from Natural partners: rationale, territory,
the public almost always adopt development and maintenance of identity
education as one of their fund-raising tools.
The concept of a natural partner is important to
Others, who operate directly in the South, can
understand if one wants to analyse the behaviour
use the experience and information they gain to
of many Northern NGOs. The concept tries to
fund-raise from the public and to lobby
capture the inclination of a Northern NGO to
government. In other words, Northern NGOs
identify an 'ideal' Southern NGO to collaborate
often take on a set of (ideally) mutually
with. Northern NGOs usually view a Southern
reinforcing methods to attain their purpose(s).
NGO as a natural partner if the Southern NGO
has origins, interests, values, intended bene-
Identifying the mix
ficiaries, constituencies, and objectives similar
Any Southern NGO which contemplates
to those of the Northern NGO itself. Progressive
accepting assistance from a Northern NGO,
NGOs seek progressive partners, sectorally
whether there is the prospect of a partnership or
specialised NGOs seek similar bodies, and so it
not, is advised to draw up an organisational
goes on. The underlying assumption is that such
profile of its counterpart. This means ascer-
natural partners will 'speak the same language'
taining two things: first, the origins, history, and
as the Northern NGO, so making work more
constituency of the Northern NGO (this could be
productive and efficient. The unspoken premise
36 Development and Patronage

is, however, that the Southern NGO mirrors the such descriptions could help to illuminate
Northern agency. The reverse is seldom expected factors which have contributed to the origins and
or accepted. values of both NGOs a necessary condition
Natural partners can lead to natural for a partnership. Identifying natural partners
territorialism. For example, for secular NOVIB remains an important tool and part of the agenda
to fund a Protestant church's development for NGO partnerships in the 1990s.
efforts in Africa might tread on the toes of ICCO
(Inter-Church Coordination Committee for
Development Projects), as ICCO considers Not all relationships are partnerships
Protestant churches to be its natural partners. Partnerships are one type of relationship. The
Further, a particular type of Southern NGO can distinctive feature of a partnership is that it
furnish a 'territory' which an NGO feels is involves sharing, with a sense of mutuality and
natural for it to 'claim'. This is most apparent equality between the parties. Both sides of the
with the geographic divisions and competition partnership equation are of equal value
between Protestant churches. In a wider sense, although not necessarily of the same content.
some arguments used in support of the generally How can partnerships be created out of relation-
negative response of Northern NGOs to official ships when the parties involved differ so much in
aid agencies' current desire to fund Southern their roots, contexts, and resources?
NGOs directly are derived from a belief in There is no medicine or treatment that, when
natural partners, i.e. that Northern governments prescribed, will turn a relationship into a part-
are not the natural, and therefore appropriate, nership. However, past practice suggests that
partners of Southern NGOs. some conditions have to be fulfilled before
An additional consequence of 'natural partner' Southern and Northern NGOs can truly say that
behaviour is that Northern NGOs with similar their relationship has made a qualitative change
cultures and values will end up (competitively) to a partnership. Together with others discussed
funding the same NGO. It is not unusual in above, the following conditions need to be
Zimbabwe, for example, to find that Oxfam (UK satisfied.
and Ireland), Oxfam (Canada), NOVIB and
HIVOS of the Netherlands, Canadian University A mutually understood 'product'
Service Overseas (CUSO), British War on The items placed on each side of the scales in a
Want, and FOS of Belgium are all supporting the South-North partnership are not identical, so it
same Southern NGO, especially if there is a is very important that their individual values are
limited supply of 'suitable' NGOs in a country. weighed and correctly assessed. For example,
Collaborating with natural partners helps to how much do the grassroots contacts of South-
confirm the identity of Northern NGOs through ern NGOs weigh against the technologies and
a process of like-minded reinforcement. Natural information that a Northern NGO can offer? The
partners contribute to a justification of the only way that these and other questions can be
NGO's presence and activities. If a Northern answered in order to make up the balance and
NGO can demonstrate that there are similar provide a sense of equality in relationships is
Southern organisations, it implies that the when the 'product' of the joint efforts is
organisation has legitimacy beyond its own mutually agreed. For example, if one NGO
origins. The existence of natural partners collaborating on improving water availability
strengthens the rationale and legitimacy of a sees the product of water development as a stat-
Northern NGO's involvement in development. istically measurable increase in people's access
A distinct advantage of the 'natural partner' to improved water sources, while the other sees
concept is that it can be one way of improving it as increasing a community's capacity to
mutual understanding. This could be done by manage its resources, there may be too little
each NGO describing what it considers to be its common ground on which to agree on the value
of what each is bringing into the relationship.
ideal partner, and explaining why. Analysing
Building partnerships between Northern and Southern NGOs 37

The more we know about development, the greater volume of public funds involved in their
more we see that it is both a set of outcomes work. Legitimacy is also a critical component in
impacts which improve people's lives and a turning NGO relationships into partnerships.
set of processes by which people achieve the Having skills and resources to transfer to the
outcomes in appropriate and sustainable ways. South does not, in itself, make a Northern
A detailed understanding and agreement is development NGO legitimate. And it is here that
needed between both parties on what develop- Southern NGOs have a special weight to put in
ment entails. In other words, NGO dialogue the partnership scales, for they provide the
must move beyond projects to a more funda- legitimacy for Northern NGOs that support
mental exchange on the causes of poverty and them. Put simply, a unique contribution which
the nature of its alleviation.7 Southern NGOs can make to the partnership
Such a discussion is also needed about the balance is the provision of legitimacy for
development of Southern NGOs themselves. Northern development NGOs.
For, if development in society is now also The ultimate legitimacy of development
understood to include the presence of strong and NGOs, Southern and Northern, can be derived
competent Southern NGOs, we need to agree on only from what they achieve in their relationship
what this means and how it can be achieved. Too with the intended beneficiaries of their existence
often, the roots, environments, and institutional and efforts: the poor. Southern NGOs can obtain
self-interests of NGOs precondition them to this legitimacy directly in the Third World; most
have different ideas about the products of Northern NGOs that are not operational can
development and the path to its attainment. obtain it only via their partnerships. This places
Differences need to be expressed and a common a critical obligation on Southern NGOs to be
ground arrived at, for only then can the value of legitimate themselves. Recognition of this
what each has to offer be properly weighed. factor provides the grounds for the mutual
dependency that should characterise a true
Trust partnership. Such a view implies a necessary
Another condition for partnership is trust qualitative shift from the present relationship
between the parties. Attaining a sufficient pattern, whereby Southern NGOs are treated as a
degree of trust requires time and a great deal of dependent part of a development-delivery
transparency between organisations. Transpar- system for Northern resources and knowledge.
ency is normally present if NGOs know of each The question of legitimacy of NGOs, North
other's roots, constituency, methods of gaining and South, will be asked more and more in the
legitimacy, systems for maintaining account- years to come as their numbers increase, as more
ability, ways in which power is divided in the studies are carried out on their performance, as
organisation, and methods of making decisions. more diverse relationships are developed
It also requires an accord on how conditions between NGOs and other types of organisation,
accepted by one party which may affect the other and as the resources used by NGOs become
(say to receive government money) are increasingly 'official'. Development NGOs
discussed and agreed upon. Further, agreements need to be aware that their origins and motives
are needed on the image which each party will be subject to more analysis and discussion.
projects of its partner in its own environments, They will have to answer some searching
through fund-raising, reporting, etc. Finally, inquiries, and statements of personal motivation
there has to be a realistic and honest appraisal of and commitment will not suffice.
each other's strengths and weaknesses.

Partnership as projection
The forgotten element: development
legitimacy The pursuit of natural partnership described
The issue of legitimacy is gaining attention above can go one step too far. For it is not
because of the rapid expansion of NGOs and the uncommon to see Northern NGOs 'projecting*
38 Development and Patronage

or forcing on to the partner the image that the donor presented a different individual image in
Northern NGO wants to see. This is usually done its approach to ORAP, with strong tones of
through initial partner selection, demanding solidarity and identification, when it came to
particular styles or types of leadership and requirements of reporting, their demands were
management, forcing priorities and methods, stringent and very similar. Why? Because for
attaching conditions to funds, requiring individ- many donors the sources of their funds were
ualised reporting formats, and so on. Such an governments that tend to have uniform, tight
image often reflects an idealised vision which standards that are applied world-wide, irrespect-
the Northern NGO has of itself. How often do ive of the recipient. The needs of ORAP were
Northern NGOs want partner organisations to be difficult to accommodate. Communication in
self-sufficient, democratic, reliable, efficient, one direction towards ORAP manifested
progressive, gender-balanced, and whatever solidarity, but in the other direction
else is part of the self-image that the Northern requirements from ORAP revealed mistrust.
NGO cannot itself attain? If one analysed the A lack of transparency in funding sources
gender structures or internal democracy or resulted in what can be typified as a one-way-
efficiency of a Northern NGO, one would mirror relationship. Northern NGOs must
seldom find a much better picture than in those therefore be open about the conditions they have
they support. In the case of the Kenya Freedom accepted on behalf of those whom they support.
From Hunger Council (KFFHC), for example,
one donor (out of four) became so frustrated at
the inability of the Council to reflect its own The limits to partnership
image by doing things exactly the way it wanted The pursuit of NGO partnerships began with an
(the four donors could not reach a compromise ambitious and confusing start in the 1980s,
together) that it resorted to actually running its because the concept was simultaneously treated
own projects within KFFHC, managed by its as (a) an ideological statement that would
own staff, using its own reporting formats and demonstrate the strength of a Northern NGO's
yet this donor still refers to the relationship as a commitment to solidarity in the development
partnership! cause, and (b) as a set of new collaborative
Southern NGOs are usually aware of the mechanisms and funding practices. The various
tendency of Northern NGOs to project them- attempts at relational innovation tried out over
selves on to the partner. They need to guard the last ten years, such as programme funding,
against it by ensuring that they have a strong delegation of responsibilities to partners, local
identity as a foundation for their negotiating partner 'platforms', reverse consortia, and
position. For, without afirmsense of self, South- organisational decentralisation, can all be seen
em NGOs are liable to mirror Northern NGOs dualistically as an ideological positioning along
by default. the progressive-conservative NGO continuum,
and also as practical attempts to change the
expressions of power within what is an
One-way mirrors inherently unbalanced relationship. It is not
Negotiations about partnership have clearly surprising, therefore, that partnership has often
highlighted the confusion and mistrust that can been idealised, and efforts to construct it
arise when a Northern donor NGO does not competitive.
indicate where its funds are coming from. The What is apparent from experience is, first,
Organisation of Rural Associations for Progress that partnership can have two distinct levels:
in Zimbabwe (ORAP) initiated the creation of a partnerships between the individuals who work
consortium among its long-term donors in order in Southern and Northern NGOs, and partner-
to overcome the many problems of multi- ships between NGOs as institutions. While
sourced multiple-project funding. Through the individuals can adopt partnership-type behav-
interaction it became apparent that, while each iours, the difficulty of creating institutional
Building partnerships between Northern and Southern NGOs 39

partnerships for Northern NGOs is that they for mutual openness and transparency, with a
have to be able to adapt to a multiplicity of bias towards providing Southern NGOs with
Southern NGOs, and this is organisationally information and categories by which they can
difficult to achieve. The imbalance in better understand their Northern counterparts. It
funder-recipient relations puts the onus of has been suggested that building partnerships
adaptation on the Southern NGO. As a con- would be improved by (a) creating a partner pro-
sequence, the management of multiple partners file in terms of origins, affiliations, constitu-
is a major headache for many of them, a fact that ency, purpose; (b) describing the natural partner;
partnership should in fact help to rectify. (c) determining original funding sources; (d)
Second, partnership is not a blanket covering all stating positions on the processes and products
aspects of a relationship, for successful partner- of development; (e) clarifying legitimacy; (f)
ships frequently depend on the prevailing ethos, avoiding projection and one-way mirrors; and
and the issues and people involved.8 Third, a (g) being specific about the areas in which
distinction needs continually to be drawn partnership is sought and is possible. No method
between responsibility and authority. Respons- can guarantee the creation of effective partner-
ibilities can be shared in a partnership; authority ships, but, as the foregoing are drawn from
seldom can. If this is not clear from the outset, experiences to date, such an approach should
mutually false expectations can be created. contribute to progress in the years to come.
The 1990s are likely to see a decrease in the
flexibility of Northern NGOs, as they become
increasingly dependent on official aid as their NGOs in the third sector
source of funds. This would suggest that from
the outset each party should define precisely (a) Increasingly, NGOs are being seen as one type
what they want a partnership for, and (b) what of institution in the 'third sector' of society. The
organisational adaptation is possible, and on organisations in this sector differentiate them-
offer, and what is not negotiable. For example, selves from governments and commercial
partnership could be sought in the sharing of enterprise in that their purposes are driven by
information and strategies for action in the values, whereas the primary objectives of
South, and coupling them to advocacy in the governments are to control and regulate, and
North, as has been successfully done on environ- those of businesses are to make profits for the
mental issues without any funding; or agreements owners. As we move towards the twenty-first
could be made on reciprocating human-resource century, NGOs are being called upon to take on
development and training opportunities in both a greater role in global development. Govern-
NGOs. Or planning cycles could be timed to ments are seen to be inefficient and (often)
coincide; or a rolling funding system could be corrupt, and commercial enterprise too self-
agreed, in order to reduce cash-flow manage- serving and concerned with short-term gain to
ment problems; or an agreement made to schedule provide hope for sustainable livelihoods for the
visitors for specific periods in the year. In sum, world's population. Success in taking up this
building partnerships in the 1990s should be challenge will depend on the emergence of a
more specific, nuanced, and pragmatic, rather strong third sector within society. The power of
than the all-embracing, excessively ideological NGOs in the third value-driven sector will
approach to building NGO relations that has depend to an important degree on their ability to
characterised earlier years. form coalitions across ethnic, class, spiritual,
geographical, and national boundaries.
NGO partnerships are one link in a system of
Summary civic affiliations that urgently need to be forged
This article has offered pointers for Southern in this decade in order to increase our hope for
and Northern NGOs wishing to improve their more equitable and sustainable development in
partnership negotiations. It has stressed the need the next century. Viewing partnerships as one
40 Development and Patronage

part of a broader strategy in the development of 6 R. Chambers: The State and Rural Develop-
the value-driven sector of society may help to ment: Ideologies and an Agenda for the 1990s
persuade NGOs to temper self-interest in their (Discussion Paper No. 269, Institute of
negotiations, in order to achieve fundamental Development Studies, University of Sussex).
realignments in society for the common good. 7 The choice of development processes and
products should derive from some analysis and
theory about poverty. But, as Tim Brodhead,
Notes President of the Canadian Council for Inter-
national Cooperation, points out, many develop-
1 The term 'development NGO' usually includes ment NGOs in North America have no theory of
membership organisations such as village (under)development to inform or underpin their
groups and community development associations actions. He considers the articulation of a theory
created to support the development of the poor in of development to be a sine qua non for the
Third World countries. However, this article legitimacy of any NGO working in this field.
restricts itself to non-membership NGOs. (Personal communication.)
2 'The North' consists of member countries in 8 This section draws on conversations with
the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Sithembiso Nyone of ORAP, Zimbabwe.
Development (OECD); 'official aid' is the
finance allocated to development by the member
governments. "The South' refers to countries The author
receiving official aid.
3 These data are derived from calculations Alan Fowler has been working with NGOs for
using the following sources: Lissner: The some twenty years as manager, consultant,
Politics of Altruism: A Study of the Political donor, writer, and researcher, and as a Visiting
Behaviour of Voluntary Agencies (Geneva: Fellow at the World Bank and the Society for
Lutheran World Federation, 1977); L. Boiling Participatory Research in Asia. In 1991 he co-
and C. Smith: Private Foreign Aid (Boulder: founded the International NGO Training and
Westview Press, 1982); OECD: Voluntary Aid Research Centre (INTRAC). He is currently an
in Development: The Role of Non-Govern- independent consultant based in the Philippines.
mental Organisations (Paris, 1988); C. Stevens This article was first published in Development
and C. van Thermaat: Pressure Groups, in Practice Volume 1, Number 1 (1991).
Policies, and Development (London: Hodder
and Stoughton, 1985); InterAction: Diversity in
Development (Washington); T. Brodhead and B.
Herbert-Copley: Bridges ofHope? (Ottawa: The
North-South Institute, 1988); Canadian Council
for International Development: 'Mind If I Cut
In?' (Ottawa, mimeo, 1988); OECD: Directory
of Non-Governmental Development Organisa-
tions in OECD Member Countries (Paris, 1990);
JANIC: Directory of Non-Governmental
Organisations in Japan: NGOs Active in Inter-
national Cooperation (Tokyo: Japan Center for
International Cooperation, 1990).
4 Sources as in note (3).
5 In relation to 1987 equivalent values, the
amount for 1977-79 is US$2.87 billion, against
US$3.94 billion in 1988 an increase in real
terms of 40 per cent.
41

The evaporation of gender policies


in the patriarchal cooking pot1
Sara Hlupekile Longwe

The basic problem is this: the 1985 Nairobi World underpinned by an implicit assumption of good
Conference on Women set out ambitious goals and will, as if the international push for women's
strategies, but since then little or no progress has advancement were like the eradication of polio
been made. Ten years later in Beijing, we had to which nobody opposes, and no government is
admit that the level of women's representation in likely to subvert.
national politics has not improved, and there is an If the assumptions underlying this apparent
increased feminisation of poverty. In many Islamic consensus were to be made explicit, how many
countries, the decade has seen increasing gender of us would consider such assumptions to be
discrimination and oppression. appropriate or realistic? What is lacking in such
This lack of progress is despite the fact that discourse is any admission of the extent to which
the policies of development agencies have been women's advancement faces patriarchal opposi-
considerably changed by the Nairobi Forward- tion. The consensus discourse conceals the
Looking Strategies. By the early 1990s, almost essence of the problem. We are up against a
every agency had improved its stated goals and hidden agenda of patriarchal opposition which
strategies, incorporating intentions to contribute needs to be seen, understood, and analysed, as
to the process of women's empowerment. Most the prerequisite for progress.
agencies have also adopted policies of 'gender Gender policies have a strange tendency to
mainstreaming', to address gender issues in all 'evaporate' within international development
projects and programmes. agencies. Are we going to recognise and discuss
How does the Beijing Platform for Action this, or pretend the problem isn't there? Are we
respond to the lack of progress since 1985? The still to treat it as a 'hidden' problem? Surely, it is
response has not been a re-consideration of the obvious enough to any fenunist who has ever
goals and strategies defined in Nairobi. Rather, tried to work with one of these agencies.
the Platform sets out a more detailed plan to This article looks into this problem, which lies
achieve these same goals. Firstly, it demands hidden within the official vocabulary, but is
more specific commitments from governments; otherwise clear. We shall consider the case of the
secondly, it sets out in more detail the ways to development agency as a 'patriarchal cooking
achieve these commitments; and thirdly, it pro- pot' in which gender policies evaporate. We
poses improved international machinery for shall explore this process of policy evaporation:
monitoring and evaluating progress. In short, the why it happens, and how it happens. This
formula is more of the same. 'patriarchal pot' is not introduced merely for
The Platform is written as if we are all pulling theoretical amusement. It aims to illuminate
together in tackling common problems. It is current problems which demand better explanation.
42 Development and Patronage

Welcome to SNOWDIDA SNOWDIDA-supported programme. Table 1


summarises the consultant's assessment of the
For a concrete example of a patriarchal cooking
level of attention to gender issues in the SNOW-
pot, it would be most useful to look at the real-
DIDA Country Programme in Sundia.
life world of a particular development agency
Looking at the 'gender assessment' shown in
and its programmes in a specific country. There-
Table 1, the reader may get the uneasy feeling of
fore, I shall take the reader to Snowdia, a very
already having visited Sundia, or at least some-
isolated nation in the North which no foreigner
where very similar. The assessment shows a
(except myself) has ever visited. Snowdia has its
gradual diminution as the programme moves
own government development agency, SNOW-
from policy statement to policy implementation.
DIDA, which is an administrative extension of
This process of diminution is here called policy
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Republic
evaporation.
of Snowdia.
One common aspect of policy evaporation is
We shall look at SNOWDIDA's development
that, although the policy goals are concerned
activities in the People's Republic of Sundia, one of
with women's increased 'participation and con-
the least-developed countries in Southern Africa.2
trol over resources', project objectives have re-
interpreted this as 'increased access to resources'.
The (bottom-up) strategy of women's partici-
Policy evaporation
pation and empowerment has been reversed into
Imagine a gender consultant who has been called a (top-down) strategy of service-delivery.
in to look at how gender issues are addressed in a Gender-policy evaporation is a common
SNOWDIDA programme in Sundia. The con- phenomenon. Sometimes the policy evaporates
sultant is instructed to look at the SNOWDIDA bit by bit, between the formulation of a policy
Country Programme. This provides a summary and its implementation. Sometimes you have
of the overall policy and goals, and of the only to turn over a page of a development plan,
objectives and activities of all the projects in the and all the gender issues previously mentioned

Table I : SNOWDIDA Country Programme for Sundia: gender assessment

Aspect of programme Assessment

Programme Policy Policy rationale is mainly concerned with supporting government policy and
endeavours. There is a brief mention of SNOWDIDA interest in supporting the
process of women's empowerment, which is defined as women's increased
participation in the development process and increased control over resources.

Situational Analysis There is some identification of gender gaps, mainly in access to resources and skills
training. There is no mention of gender discrimination, or lack of women's
representation in decision-making positions.

Programme Goals Here there are several goals which are concerned with women's increased access to
resources, and increased participation in the development process.

Project Goals There are no specific gender-oriented objectives. When a target group is mentioned,
this is sometimes followed by the phrase 'especially women'.

Project Activities There are no activities which are gender-specific, nor which are concerned with
closing gender gaps, overcoming discrimination, or increasing women's
participation in the process of project planning and implementation.

Project Implementation Despite the Country Director's claim that the projects are implemented in a' gender-
sensitive' way, the consultant's visits to various project sites reveal that there is no
attempt to identify and address gender issues during the implementation process.
The evaporation of gender policies in the patriarchal cooking pot 43

have suddenly disappeared. Evaporation can be instead be praised for being honest and
a very rapid process! pragmatic. There must a different value system
But this is only the surface evidence of policy operating here. Something else is going on.
evaporation. Now we come to the more interest-
ing question: who is doing what, and why?
Planning
Similarly, policy evaporation during the
Is SNOWDIDA a bureaucracy? planning process is incomprehensible, according to
Weberian principles. The bureaucratic planning
We cannot entirely understand SNOWDIDA's
process works according to given rules and
treatment of gender issues if we regard SNOW-
procedures. Development plans are formulated
DIDA as a normal bureaucracy. This is because
to address the problems which have been ident-
bureaucracy is supposed to implement policy.
ified in the process of setting the development
According to the 'proper' theory of bureaucracy,
policy against the facts of the reality in Sundia.
evaporation of policy cannot be understood,
This identification of problems should lead to
since the purpose of the bureaucracy is to imple-
the formulation of goals, since goals should be
ment policy, not evaporate it. More specifically,
concerned with overcoming the problems. Goals
from a Weberian theoretical perspective of
give way to objectives which will address the
bureaucracy, policy evaporation is incom-
problems. This is part of a logical planning
prehensible at three levels: policy, planning, and
sequence which is an essential aspect of the due
organisation. Let us look at each of these in tum.
process of a Weberian bureaucracy.
Therefore, the gradual evaporation of policy
during the planning process is bureaucratically
Policy
irrational. It entails slippage from the rationality
SNOWDIDA does not make policy. Policy is of the proper process, and this slippage contra-
made at the political level of government, and dicts a basic ideal of Weberian bureaucracy. It
the job of SNOWDIDA is to implement policy. can be understood only as a mistake, which must
According to the Weberian theory of bureau- be corrected if procedures are being followed
cracy, implementation of policies is the central properly. However, if there is a pattern of
purpose of the chain of command (from the evaporation throughout the area of policy on
government). Bureaucratic rules and procedures women's advancement, then this cannot be a
are primarily concerned with ensuring that mistake. There must be other norms operating,
policy guidelines from the top generate appro- quite outside bureaucratic norms.
priate action throughout the organisation. It
follows that wilful policy evaporation within
SNOWDIDA cannot be explained within Organisation
Weberian theory.
A third aspect of Weberian-style bureaucracy is
When a SNOWDIDA official dilutes or
that it adapts to new policy and new demands by
ignores the policy on women's advancement,
developing specialised departments, staffed by
the official is actually re-making policy.
professionals with specialised training. But
Negation of a policy automatically becomes
when one asks the SNOWDIDA office in Sundia
policy intervention, entailing the assumption of
why the Country Programme has overlooked
powers which are not given in the chain of
gender issues, the answer is likely to come back
command and which therefore contradict a basic
like a shot: 'We have nobody with the training to
principle of bureaucracy.
understand these things'.
Whereas in other areas an official's repud-
The policy has been in place for ten years, and
iation of policy would merit dismissal, in the
still there are no personnel with the training to
area of women's advancement the official may
implement it? This is incomprehensible within a
44 Development and Patronage

Weberian theory of bureaucracy. It demands The culture of the patriarchal pot


some other form of explanation. For, from a
If we apply the label 'patriarchal pot' to the
Weberian perspective, bureaucrats' official
organisation which subverts female gender
opinions are formed only in terms of given
interests, we need to understand more about the
policies, and given rules and procedures. Offic-
way in which the patriarchal pot can exist
ially, they do not have their own personal opin-
alongside the bureaucracy, given that they
ions; or, if they do, their opinions must not
would seem to be antagonistic. We need to know
interfere with their work. For Weber, the whole
more about the structure and behaviour of the
point of a modern bureaucracy is that it made a
pot, and how it maintains its existence.
break with earlier and medieval systems of
administration which were patrimonial, patriarchal, Let us look at the interests which are served
autocratic, arbitrary, inconsistent, irrational, and by the pot, and the procedures by which it is
so on. Thus the whole point of a modern bureau- maintained. If it is actually antagonistic to
cracy is that it follows policy and due process, bureaucracy, we need to know how this contra-
and there is not something else really going on. dictory and cancerous state of affairs can
continue to survive and thrive in partnership
with bureaucracy.

Overt bureaucracy and covert


patriarchy Internal interests of the patriarchal pot
It is not enough to say that policy evaporation The patriarchal interests within SNOWDIDA
occurs in SNOWDIDA's programmes because are not hard to find. First, of course, like other
SNOWDIDA is a bureaucracy, and bureau- bureaucracies North and South, it is male-
cracies are automatically patriarchal. On the dominated. Gender inequality in recruitment,
contrary, the bureaucrats are trained to follow conditions of service, and promotion are
rules and procedures, and to implement policies. essential for maintaining the SNOWDIDA
And yet, if SNOWDIDA adhered to bureau- tradition of male domination and male culture.
cratic rules, it would actually be implementing SNOWDIDA is run as a wing of the Snowdian
the policy on women's advancement. Therefore, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which has always
SNOWDIDA encompasses two very different been a male preserve.
forms of organisation: the overt and the covert. Implementing a development policy for
women's advancement therefore threatens the
The overt organisation is the development-
male domination of SNOWDIDA. It immediate-
agency bureaucracy, with its explicit policies
ly suggests the need to recruit more women and
and procedures, and legal-rational system of even more threatening to recruit feminists.
analysis. The Weberian model is its legitimating Herein lies the internal threat to SNOWDIDA:
ideology. that feminist recruits would not confine their
The covert patriarchy, or the 'patriarchal pot', interests to the advancement of women within
is within the organisation, which runs counter to Sundia, but would be equally interested in the
the Weberian model and enables the subversion advancement of women within SNOWDIDA!
of those policies and directives which threaten
covert patriarchal interests.
External interests of the patriarchal pot
When presented with feminist policies, the overt
and the covert organisations have opposing Here we have to understand the common
interests, values, rules, and objectives: bureau- patriarchal interest between SNOWDIDA and
cratic principles demand implementation; its cooperating Ministry, the Sundian Ministry
patriarchal principles demand evaporation. of Planning (MOP). Both are government
bureaucracies, and, therefore, both have
The evaporation of gender policies in the patriarchal cooking pot 45

common experience and procedures when it In the Sundian men's club, women are not dis-
comes to delaying, subverting, or ignoring cussed as equals or even as human beings.
government policies which threaten the Women are sexual objects or commodities, to be
privileges of class, tribe, religious group, hunted as sexual prey or acquired for additional
gender, and so on. In fact, when it comes to wealth and prestige. SNOWDIDA officials who
subverting Weberian ideals of legal-rational attempt to introduce policies of gender equality
behaviour, the Sundian Ministry outdoes into the development discourse not only upset
SNOWDIDA. the workplace, they upset the whole patriarchal
In the area of gender, the Sundian MOP has culture. In particular, they upset the men's club,
exactly the same problem as SNOWDIDA. It which is not only the centre of their social life but
also has a government which, at the political also their essential meeting place for informal
level, has handed down policies on women's contacts and influence in Sundia.
equality and advancement. In fact, MOP
officials have a more serious interest in ensuring
policy evaporation: the government policy on
gender threatens not only male domination The structure of the patriarchal pot
within MOP, but also the continuance of the We have now looked at the common interests
patriarchal control of society as a whole. The and culture of the alliance which sustains the
Sundian government policy on gender equality patriarchal pot. But we still need to look at how
would challenge the customary laws and this pot actually works. How are we to under-
traditions which have always maintained male stand the process by which a particular policy
domination of Sundian society. can evaporate, when other policies do not? We
Whereas the North-South relationship has have to look at the structure of the pot in terms of
many underlying conflicts and tensions, its relationship to the overt bureaucracy and its
common patriarchal interests can provide the legitimating theory and ideology.
basis for brotherhood.

Diplomacy in defence of patriarchy


The men's club alliance
The Country Director's simple formula for
The easy and cosy relationship between the implementing a SNOWDIDA development-
officials of SNOWDIDA and MOP needs also to support programme in Sundia is, as far as
be understood in terms of the 'men's club' possible, to reduce SNOWDIDA policy in
culture to which they both belong. Officials on Sundia to the selection of the particular MOP
both sides are part of the Sundian male culture of programmes which SNOWDIDA will support.
meetings, cocktail parties, and the golf club. Such a selection process is usually conducted
The men's club infects both the office and the as if there is complete Snowdian-Sundian
social world of the high-level bureaucrat in consensus on development policy.
Sundia. At the office, the privileged male However, this smooth diplomatic gloss
activity of high-level decision-making is conceals the need for policy-level negotiation in
supported by the menial female work of office- areas where in fact there is lack of consensus. All
cleaning, secretarial services, and document- SNOWDIDA development principles have
production. Similarly, at the domestic level, the implications for changes in the structure of
husband's full-time professional occupation is Sundian society. Therefore, all development co-
enabled by the wife, who looks after the home, operation between Snowdia and Sundia needs to
children, schooling, and shopping. Leisure be based on initial negotiations to ensure that the
hours at cocktail parties and golf clubs are policy priorities of both sides are being pursued.
financed by the unpaid or exploited labour of the For example, in the area of SNOWDIDA policy
lower classes, especially their female members. on structural adjustment, policy is enforced by
46 Development and Patronage

conditionality. On structural adjustment, the improved project efficiency. The project has its
Country Director's diplomatic gloss disappears, own primary purpose, concerned with purely
and he (it is likely to be a 'he') talks tough. technical objectives of increasing the water
But in the area of gender equality, SNOW- supply, improving institutional capacity, or
DIDA behaves more like a diplomatic mission whatever. Gender is to be treated as an 'add-on'.
than a development agency. When it comes to Of course, if it can be added,by the same token it
SNOWDIDA gender policy, the Country can be subtracted.
Director suddenly becomes very diplomatic, and
states that 'we cannot interfere with the internal
affairs of Sundia'. The implicit ideology of the patriarchal pot
When the Country Director talks of structural
Here we see that the technical vocabulary of
adjustment, he is in charge of a bureaucracy.
development is ideology masquerading as
When he talks of gender issues, he is in charge of
theory. The underlying ideological principle is
the patriarchal pot.
that systems of male domination in Sundia are
not to be the subject of development inter-
ventions. Any such intervention is to be labelled
Theory in support of pot preservation
as 'interference'. In the area of gender, SNOW-
The most important aspect/of preserving the DIDA works within the existing patriarchal
patriarchal pot is that it should remain invisible. structure. (Although there is the awkward
One important way of enabling the pot quietly ideological contradiction that in other areas the
and invisibly to evaporate the policy is to adopt a policy is structural adjustment!)
vocabulary in which a discussion of women's This, of course, must remain covert ideology
empowerment becomes impossible. This may for the simple reason that the overt principles
be achieved by adopting a technical vocabulary are the exact opposite of the covert principles.
which is not appropriate for the analysis or For both SNOWDIDA and Sundia have explicit
even the recognition of the political and ideo- development policies concerned with promoting
logical dimensions of the development process. gender equality and ending practices of gender
In order to maintain the technical level of discrimination.
discourse, the Country Director has advised all This points to the absolute importance of
SNOWDIDA staff that, as technical advisers, technical rationalisation as a mode and vocabu-
they should avoid all politically loaded words lary of discourse. Within a technical and
especially in writing. They should avoid the non-political vocabulary, the ideological contra-
phrase 'gender inequality' and instead talk more diction between policy and practice never comes
diplomatically about 'gender differences'. Also up for discussion. It remains invisible.
the word 'equality' should be replaced by
'equity', or some other non-threatening term.
Another essential element in de-politicising
Covert procedures of the
the vocabulary is to reduce the discourse on
women's advancement to the level of providing
patriarchal pot
for women's basic needs and increasing their Policy evaporation cannot remain invisible
access to resources. By this means, awkward simply on the basis of applying vocabulary
words such as 'control' or 'discrimination' can control. For instance, there may be vocal
be avoided. The word 'oppression' should in no members of the women's movement in both
circumstance be entertained. Within this vocab- Snowdia and Sundia who want to know why
ulary, it is possible to discuss women's advance- there seems to be no action on SNOWDIDA's
ment within the existing social system, and not in policies of women's advancement.
terms of the need to reform this system. So if a gender issue does actually get on to the
Addressing gender issues must be treated as a agenda, how is it to be dealt with? The answer is
secondary concern which relates only to that it must apparently be dealt with by normal
The evaporation of gender policies in the patriarchal cooking pot 47

bureaucratic procedure. But this must be done in obvious lies. Success depends on the triumph of
such a way that the gender issue will slowly authority over truth.)
evaporate down to nothing. Inversion: 'There is a problem here, but it
The procedures of the patriarchal pot are originates in the home and not in the clinic. It is
concerned with mocking bureaucratic proced- husbands who insist that wives cannot be given
ure, making sure that what goes in never comes contraceptives without their permission, and
out. The patriarchal pot implements a strange Sundian wives accept this situation. This is
slow-motion parody of the procedures of therefore a domestic problem, in which the
Weberian bureaucracy. What looks on the Sundian government cannot interfere, let alone
surface like bureaucracy is actually the slow and SNOWDIDA.' (This should be recognised as
destructive boiling of the pot. i yet another version of the old strategy of
Let us suppose that a^visiting gender blaming the victim.)
consultant has pointed out to the Country Policy dilution: 'SNOWDIDA policy is
Director that family-planning clinics refuse to concerned with increasing access to resources,
provide women with contraceptives unless they which we have done by providing more clinics
bring a letter of permission from their husbands. and stocking them with a variety of contra-
In effect, this makes contraceptives unavailable ceptives. The rules of who is eligible to receive
to most married women and to all single women. contraceptives must remain in the hands of the
And a major part of the SNOWDIDA Health government.' (It is not true that SNOWDIDA
Sector budget is to provide support for family- policy is limited to providing resources to
planning clinics. government. The policy also involves enabling
The consultant seems to have revealed the women's empowerment and overcoming the
lack of attention to the SNOWDIDA gender obstacles of discriminatory practices.)
policy on ending discriminatory practices. The Since verbal defence must entail misrep-
Country Director has to respond to this criticism, resentation, the Country Director may choose
and may even have to be seen to take action and alternative procedures, admitting the problem
make changes in the office. There are various and proposing action to address it. This is the
ways in which the Country Director may do this. basis of diversionary action.
We may divide his responses into three types of
action: verbal defence, diversionary action, and
organisational change.3 Procedures for diversionary action
Let us look at each of these in turn. If possible,
Lip service: "The consultant has pointed to a
the Country Director will want to confine his
problem which has been worrying us for some
reaction to verbal defence, which involves
time. We are most grateful for her clear analysis
demonstrating that the consultant's criticisms of
of the problem. We intend to establish a Consult-
the programme are mistaken.
ative Committee to look at these recommend-
ations, which have implications for improving
our attention to gender issues in all SNOW-
Procedures for verbal defence DIDA programmes.' (This is often a procedure
Denial: The Country Director claims that for sounding good at the time, but with
'The gender consultant was here for only a absolutely no intention of taking any action.)
day, and has misunderstood the problem. It is Research study: "The consultant has pointed
Sundian policy that contraceptives are made to just one aspect of a larger problem, which is
available only to couples. Therefore, the clinic very sensitive and touches on matters of Sundian
is only following government policy, to which custom and tradition. We have decided to
SNOWDIDA also must also conform.' (But appoint a team from the Sundian Research
flat denial is a dangerous strategy for the Institute to look at gender issues in all sectors, in
Country Director, because it usually involves the context of structural adjustment, and to make
48 Development and Patronage

recommendations on the implications for Wander-Wander, has agreed to sit on our


SNOWDIDA.' (By the time the report comes Sundia-SNOWDIDA Health Programme Com-
out, at the end of next year, the original problem mittee. Until now the Sundian members of this
should have been forgotten.) Committee have all been men, but now we shall
Shelving: 'The research report "Gender hear the woman's voice on some of these
Issues in the Context of Structural Adjustment in difficult issues concerning tradition and custom.'
Sundia" has recently been completed. It has (Mrs Wander-Wander is a well-known tradition-
been sent to headquarters in Snowdia for their alist. In fact, she is known for telling women to obey
consideration.' (The report has been shelved. It their husbands. Mrs Wander-Wander has been
will never be seen again.) invited as a token woman. In any meeting she
will be allowed to speak for five token minutes
to ensure that 'the woman's point of view has
Procedures for ineffectual been heard' before the men take their decision.)
organisational change
Even more diversionary is organisational change.
This will require significantly more time, which
is viewed as a positive aspect on the road to doing
Conclusion
nothing. Moreover, if the organisational change To examine the process of gender-policy evap-
is inappropriate for addressing gender issues, oration, this paper has introduced the notion of a
there never will be any appropriate outcomes. development agency as a 'patriarchal pot'. A
Compartmentalisation: 'We are now estab- development agency is here seen as a complex
lishing the new post of Women in Development cooking pot, on which the lid normally remains
(WID) Counsellor to head the new WID Section closed. The pot is filled with patriarchal bias,
in the SNOWDIDA office in Sundia. The WID implicit in the agency's values, ideology, devel-
Counsellor will advise on gender issues in all opment theory, organisational systems, and
projects, will supervise the planning of support procedures. This is the pot into which policies
for women's projects, and will be in charge of for women's advancement are thrown. It is a
gender training for SNOWDIDA staff and strange patriarchal pot, with much input but no
counterparts.' (Since the SNOWDIDA office is output. Officially the policy exists, and the pot
divided into conventional sectors, the creation of does not. But this paper says that the policy has
a separate WID Section effectively treats gender evaporated, and what remains is the pot.
as a separate sector, when it is actually supposed International programmes for the advance-
to be an inter-sectoral concern. This compart- ment of women must be based on an analysis of
mentalisation contradicts the SNOWDIDA the various forms of patriarchal opposition to
policy of mainstreaming gender issues in all gender-oriented policies. In particular, we must
sectors of development assistance.) _ take an interest in the workings of government
Subversion: 'I have appointed our Pro- bureaucracies. If we want to change the world,
gramme Assistant, Mrs Patrison, to take on the we cannot treat bureaucracy as politically neutral.
additional responsibility of WID Counsellor in This paper has analysed the way in which
our office here in Sundia. I know she is very bureaucracy can play a major role in the maint-
young and has no previous experience in gender enance and social reproduction of patriarchy.
issues. But I am sure she will soon pick it up.' Women's global advancement depends on the
(This appointment is an act of pure cynicism. transformation of patriarchal bureaucracy into
Patrison is a junior official well known for feminocracy .beginning with development agencies.
incompetence and administrative confusion, In other words, as we know more about the
and famous for immediately losing any docu- patriarchal cooking pot, we must prepare to
ment given to her.) break it to pieces.
Tokenism: 'I am pleased to announce that the
wife of the Vice-President, Mrs Charity
The evaporation of gender policies in the patriarchal cooking pot 49

Notes further in 'Breaking the patriarchal alliance:


governments, bilaterals and NGOs', Focus on
1 This is a shortened version of a presentation at
Gender 2:3 (1995).
the seminar 'Women's Rights and Develop-
3 An earlier interpretation of these' procedures'
ment: Vision and Strategy for the Twenty-first
appears in Sara Longwe (1990): 'From Welfare
Century', organised by One World Action,
Oxfam UK and Ireland, the Gender Institute of to Empowerment: The Situation of Women in
the London School of Economics, and Queen Development in Africa', Women in Inter-
Elizabeth House, at the University of Oxford in national Development, Working Paper No 204,
May 1995. The original paper appears in University of Michigan at East Lansing, a paper
Women's Rights and Development, edited by originally written for the 1988 inaugural
Mandy Macdonald and published by Oxfam UK meeting of the African Women's Development
and Ireland. .. . and Communication Network (FEMNET),
Nairobi.
2 Some readers may be familiar with some
aspects of Sundia from my discussion of an
earlier visit in 'Towards Better North-South
Communication on Women's Development: The author
Avoiding the Roadblocks of Patriarchal
Resistance', presented at a Women in Develop- Sara Hlupekile Longwe is a consultant in
ment Europe workshop on gender planning, women's development and an activist for
February 1992, Dublin. I am grateful to my women'srights.She has published widely in the
partner, Roy Clarke, for the endless discussions area of gender analysis, and is on the Editorial
which led to the invention of Snowdia and Board of Gender and Development. This article
Sundia. My analysis of patriarchal resistance was first published in Development in Practice
within development agencies was carried Volume 7, Number 2, in 1997.
50

Framing participation:
development projects, professionals, and organisations

David Craig and Doug Porter

Holding out the possibility ofemancipation, Modern attention to issues of good governance, an
Institutions at the same time create mechanisms increased role for NGOs in development, and
ofsuppression, rather than actualisation, of the self. attempts to promote civil society as an inter-
(Anthony Giddens, Modernity and Self-Identity) mediary between government and the people are
all part of attempts to deal with this problem of
Development projects need to be 'doubly 'double accountability'. These measures are
accountable'. They need to be accountable to based on good intentions and a realisation that
intended participants and create real oppor- participation is essential to the success of projects
tunities for people to take the project in directions and programmes. They look participatory from a
which seem to them most appropriate. But pro- distance, but at close quarters these measures, we
jects must also be accountable to the source of believe, actually do little to tip the balance back
funds which underwrite these opportunities. Projects, towards participation. Instead, they have effectively
in other words, have to be effectively managed. become new forms of management and control,
The two aims, participation and effective mana- which are just as costly but do not result in great
gement, are deeply contradictory. Participation benefits for project participants.
means fostering local initiative and control;
We argue that this situation has arisen because
management often requires meeting certain
the dominance of three integral, related compon-
objectives, many already established long before
ents has been taken for granted in development:
the project begins, maintaining accountability
projects, professionals, and organisations. These
and central control. Generally, projects tend to
three components involve certain practices and
be more 'managed' than 'participatory', and the
processes which are primarily instruments of
balance of control (and project resources and
control, rather than of participation. Right from
funds) ends up inside the organisations which are
the outset of development projects, professionals
managing the projects. Those whom the project is
and organisations construct a framework of
designed to help participate very little, and gain
control for potential participants, which rigidly
access to a very small proportion of the project's
shapes and bounds the kind of participation that is
resources.
possible, and the directions in which people can
In recent years, several important organisa- go with development projects. It is clear that some
tional bridges have been thrown across this gap, local people are better able than others to make
in an attempt to make management more themselves and their needs visible within the
participatory, and participation more formalised narrow categories of the frames which these
in the way in which management occurs. PRA controlling factors produce. But the majority do
techniques, Process Consultation, decentralisation, not, and for this reason we argue that the 'control'
Framing participation 51

aspect of development is perhaps much more Development organisations are diverse, yet
pervasive than is widely recognised. distinctive, highly specialised forms of organisation.
Any attempts to generate more participation They became extraordinarily influential during
will require a fundamental change in the opera- the 1980s, when many heavily indebted nations
tions of development projects, professionals, and relied on grants and soft loans to maintain even
organisations. New forms of project and organisa- basic services to their populations. Among
tion and new types ofprofessional would be required. development agencies, non-government organisa-
Sorting this out is beyond the scope of this article, tions (NGOs) became prominent, because inter-
and our ability. Meantime, we think it is important national and bilateral government donors believed
to pay attention to the ways in which the current they could reach people and places which govern-
tools of participatory development, including PRA, ment could not, and could thereby help to mediate
can be used to promote either participation or their concerns for marginal groups of people.
control, depending on how we use them. Northern NGOs diversified their focus, and
replicated their own organisational forms and
mechanisms in local counterpart organisations. In
Projects, organisations, the 1990s, global organisations of the United
and professionals Nations system have moved into deeper and
Development discourse has always given special wider engagements, from global military peace-
privilege to its best-performing instruments: keeping, to the enacting of global charters in
projects, organisations, and professionals. These diverse social and environmental arenas, to a
have been seen as so essential for local-level greater interest in governance and civil society.
articulation of global development that they are Development professionals (or 'technical
the most commonly invoked conditions placed on assistance experts' in 1950s terms) provided a
'aiding' development. It was believed that, through rational and mobile means to direct the capital,
these instruments, the task of 'development' could technology, and rationality through projects into
be turned into a series of technical (and thus developing countries. UN Resolutions of the early
politically neutral) organisational processes and 1950s endorsed the view that 'defective know-
bounded, manageable objectives. As Apthorpe ledge and consequent inability to make rational
(1986:379) said of project documents, proposals, plans' was a major 'constraint'. Technical assist-
sector plans and the like, 'what is involved is ance, through development professionals, was
apparently ... a completely neutral and purely projected as 'democracy's route for expediting'
instrumental form of utterance'. development with 'administrative integrity',
Within this larger frame, for many observers, which was an important attraction, given the
development projects became development itself, sensitivities of newly independent nations to neo-
as evident in an oft-quoted definition from Albeit colonialism. Development professionals have
Hirschman' s book Development Projects Observed been seen as the 'keys' to successful develop-
(1967:1): ment, as 'linch-pins of development', 'builders of
order', 'catalysts and inducers of economic and
The development project is a special kind of social change' (Porter 1995). Here, we consider
investment. The term connotes purposefulness, several kinds of development professional and
some minimum size, a specific location, the intro- talk in particular about desk and programme
duction of something qualitatively new, and the officers and short-term consultants.
expectation that a sequence of further develop-
ment moves will be set in motion ... Development
projects ... are the privileged particles of the The project as frame
development process.
Development projects face the difficult task of
As we will see, projects are a particularly power- creating a recognisable, bounded, integrated
ful way of binding together particular purposes, whole out of some complex ingredients: local
ideas, resources along with people and places. geography, community, and economics, project
52 Development and Patronage

'inputs' (including people), and the procedures compelling, flexible framework, fthat is at once
and mechanisms for changing the world that we idealistic and practical, but is also unlimited and
call development practice. This task has been specific. The two, objectives and ideals, are
made all the more difficult because the ends are mutually reinforcing, and the presence of both
presented with considerable wholeness and enables embattled project officers to move back
simplicity: incomes must increase, health and and forth between each, as needs for justifications
welfare have to improve, democracy and good and performance arise.
governance have to be fostered, and all in a The key point is that, while all projects require
sustainable way that allows a fair share for this combination of ideals and concrete objectives,
women, minorities, the environment, and any the ability of local people to express their own
other interest that tends to be missed out when desires and needs in these terms is often limited.
Development goes off course. It is hardly surprising The project, however, selects and presents what
that development projects have evolved as a set of local people say in terms of these requirements.
strong formal procedures, documents, and tech- Desires and interests that do not fit are simply not
niques. Only these hold out the hope that the recorded. People who are best at expressing
project reality might be framed and constructed, themselves within the high moral and technical
and 'development' itself ritually achieved. frame of the project will thus have greater influ-
Development projects are designed in terms of ence. This is why educated Elites, and males, tend
a number of conventional rationalities. These are to expect and get a greater portion of the project's
performative, in that they define ideals, goals, resources to flow in their direction.
fields, and mechanisms of project activities. Further framing of local people and their
These rationalities generally are of two different concerns and interests is also carried on within the
but mutually dependent kinds. The first are project. Within the project frame, the population
project goals, which reflect implicit values such of development beneficiaries and participants is
as empowerment or growth, or improvement in represented within social, economic, and demo-
the satisfaction of 'needs'. Unlike, but implicit in, graphic categories, each of which stabilises and
the specific objectives and inputs of projects, homogenises specific people within larger groups.
these ideals are timeless and highly moral. These homogenising, taxonomic categories
'Improved standards of living and peace and include locality, 'the community', the household,
order' reads the goal statement of one project, and particular groups such as women; or, within
typical of many. The second kind of rationality is them, 'sub-categories', such as Commercial Sex
the specific objectives of the project. These are Workers, or petty traders. These categories are
generally observable, objectively defined ends designed to include all relevant subjects in a
which are to be realised by the specific mechan- particular group, and this further reinforces the
isms of the project. They include target popula- project's claims to political representativeness
tions and areas (beneficiaries), and are logically and a broad-based legitimacy.
linked to the supply of resources or inputs, a Again, these categories come from outside,
limited number of desired outputs, and a list of along with the project. They make it clear that if
specific project activities carried out over the any individuals are to participate in the project,
duration of the project. they must present themselves within the frame-
Together, the goals provide the rationale for work of terms required by it. Clearly, some
the objectives and mechanisms or activities. They groups are less visible within this frame than
make all project activities and objectives appear others. Marginal groups are easily left un-
legitimate, because of their links with the high recognised, even where the project is focused on
ideals of development. In turn, objectives are women or the poor. Important family connections
intended to reconstruct the local community in the which overlap categories may not be visible
image of the overall goal, which typically is within the frame. Thus close relatives of an 61ite
closely affiliated with higher ideals. This combin- person may be able to get access to project
ation of objectivities and ideals provides a resources designated for the poor, because they
Framing participation 53

are in a position to adapt themselves to fit the particular times to get their interests included; to
project's categories. fit themselves to the project's time frame. Others
The population is assumed to be reasonably may not, at crucial times in the project cycle, be
stable in geographical terms for the duration of able to be there and so participate.
the project. Indeed, many projects have been The attempt to replicate development values,
formulated with the express aim of keeping objectives, and practices, often in very different
itinerant populations in a particular place; for local situations, constitutes a form of control
instance, social and agricultural services are or, put differently, a form of 'governance at a
frequently provided to reduce migration or to distance' (Rose and Miller 1992). This replication
hold itinerant populations in designated resettle- has become, in many circles, the 'essence' of
ment areas. This stabilising effect is generally what good development practice is about.
welcome to anyone with the responsibility of Projects are typically evaluated in terms of how
administering or governing populations or well they initially framed the local situation and
territories. Marginal people, however, often lack a brought about stable outcomes in accordance
stable local base, and can easily fall through or with the early frame of the project.
move (or be moved) out of the categories
provided by the project frame.
The professional as framer
The project frame also locates people in
relation to certain explicitly valued practices In practical terms, the space between donor and
which are made specific in the project, and with recipient is traversed by organisations through
which compliance is gauged as a measure of the global communications media, and (our focus
project's success or otherwise. First are standard- here) by the employment of particular varieties of
ised measures and assessments of local practices, development professional: desk or programme
which are becoming more common with the officers, and short-term consultants. These
advent of international standards and bench- professionals provide development organisations
marking (ISO 9000, total quality management). with mobile, authoritative means of overseeing
For instance, agricultural development projects the transfer of goals, objectives, information,
typically feature 'farming systems analysis', resources, and practices that need to travel and be
baseline surveys, 'PRAs', or 'training needs locally replicated for the project to be realised.
assessments' as part of the mandatory ensemble Their particular roles, their professional kudos,
of practices necessary for 'getting the facts and the practices they have formed for dealing
straight' and for calibrating the inputs to the local with the chaos that regularly confronts them
situation. Similarly, HIV/AIDS intervention constitute another significant framing mechan-
projects most often apply KAPB (Knowledge, ism for the development enterprise.
Attitudes, Practices, Behaviours) surveys as the The raw material with which these develop-
means whereby the categories (such as Com- ment practitioners work in developing project
mercial Sex Workers) are 'filled in' with specific proposals has usually already been pre-selected
values and behaviours, frequently based on as generally fitting within the frame of the
assumptions about these in Western societies interests and perceived capabilities of their organ-
(Plummer and Porter 1997). isation, and also within larger frames of donor-
The population, inputs, and outputs are located selected sectors or initiatives, such as women and
within a time frame, the project cycle. This cycle development (WID) or country priorities. Within
is segmented and sequenced, with specific activities, this, however, desk and programme officers
practices, budgetary inputs, observations (project generally work in an atmosphere of uncertainty
reviews and evaluations), outputs, and re- and scrappy knowledge. Typically based in donor
conceptualisations scheduled into it. Feasibility countries, or in metropolitan centres of develop-
study comes before design, and after this comes ing countries, professionals employed by devel-
implementation, and so on. Again, certain people opment agencies rely on variously constructed
are more easily able to organise themselves at proposal documents, observations from local
54 Development and Patronage

counterparts, and (often brief) 'field visits' for realities during implementation throw things off
their information. course and erode the certainty of the original
Documentation usually involves scrambling project statement. Biographical data of key
to fill in the standard format categories from the project personnel are appended to proposal docu-
donor's protocols, fitting the often fluid, ments, conveying the same ritualistic, fabulous
fragmentary details of the local situation to the impression of authority and experience for the
overarching, framing story of need, opportunity, project that they do for the people themselves.
and willingness, as well as to the technical Desk or programme officers' personal and
language of standardised project-proposal forms. organisational career fortunes are mixed in with
Local quirks of situation or language must be the fortunes of the project; promotion in some
turned into something accounted for and recog- organisations comes through getting numbers of
nised, even when the extent of possible difficult- projects funded, and the threat of a job in, say, the
ies is not yet known. archives department or the contracts section
In framing documents, close adherence to the hangs over the head of the officer with the
framework ofdonor guidelines offers some security: notoriously bad project. Their dependence on
filling in all the categories asked for, framing the local managers, national counterparts, and local
project in terms of donors' current interests, organisations creates tension, and an incentive to
relying on past experience (perhaps on an unrelated see that local agents and resources are tied down
project in another part of the world), and on other as much as possible, to fit the frame.
conventional knowledge of what is acceptable. Programme officers are thus deployed by their
A range of ritual, documentary techniques is organisations to order and represent local situations
now available to create the impression of order, in terms of the organisation's own rationalities
and to provide confidence as the project moves and priorities. By standing out from the locals
from pre-feasibility studies to project design, when they visit (with their logo T-shirts, laptop
implementation, and evaluation phases. Initially, computers, or white skin), they also provide an
conventional development objectives must be organisational even a national presence and
abstracted from the morass of local culture and identity for the project, as required by organ-
community. Because these will be the basis of isational publicists and official donors alike.
subsequent scrutiny of the project by others, they In practice, the professionals' work is more
need to be framed as solidly as possible, providing than a translation: it is a production, large parts of
the indicators of time (by when things will be which must be achieved without the subjects of
achieved), space (where, geographically and development. They must construct an entire
institutionally), responsibility (by whom and with theatrical scenario for the project, including the
what chains of accountability upwards to the dramatic conceit, the sequences of plot, the set
funding agency), and quantities of inputs, mentioned and props, and the casts of stars, and of thousands
above, all well ahead of schedule, and often with of'extras'.
little resort to a close knowledge of field conditions.
Rendering the document in a Logframe (or
Framing, political legitimacy,
Logical Framework), or producing projected
and governance at a distance
cost-benefit analyses performs a parallel back-up
or safety-check role. By providing an apparently The use of local partner organisations is perhaps
technically sophisticated analysis and planning the most salient feature of development involving
format, the ritual suggests to project appraisers NGOs in recent years; they are variously termed
that uncertainties have been submitted to the Rural-Based Organisations, Member-
frame of an authoritative planning technology. Accountable Organisations, People's Organisa-
The Logframe format also gives programme tions, and so on. The 'main game' in development
officers the chance to gesture at and name in terms of funding, projects, and people
external influences in a way that allows in obviously still occurs well away from here,
advance for points of excuse or exit, when local outside the NGO world; but NGOs' increasing
Framing participation 55

prominence is indicative of the organisational care. They typically represent their field of
refinement of governance through development operations as encompassing the poor and needy,
during the second half of the 1980s. perhaps of a particular region. They claim a
Typically, an NGO-related development project legitimacy by being able to be seen to transform
will involve a funding body, a metropolitan inter- the lives of needy people, to access and alter the
mediary, a partner intermediary NGO in the physical, social, and economic aspects of their
developing country, and at least one level of local lives in a sustainable, democratic way. This rep-
organisation. Each of these re-frames and recon- resentation and the political positioning it entails
stitutes the project in terms of its own concerns are crucial: funders must be able to see that their
and priorities, and practical capacity. The project, requirements are mirrored in their counterpart
as framed and agreed on by funding and metro- organisations, all the way down the chain.
politan intermediary organisations, is subject to a The local organisation and its members
number of reformulations before its objectives provide the NGO intermediary with a locally legiti-
can become visible in and to the target population. mate presence, as well as a base from which to
Project objectives and goals are supposed to move universal development practices into the
travel down the length of this chain of organisa- locality and population. Each level of organisation
tions, and be reproduced intact within the target reproduces the framing logics of the organisation
population. However, at each point on this chain, above it, but at a cost. Partner organisations in-
the project is filtered and re-framed to fit the country, however, can claim to be local, so that
objectives and categories of the organisation at their organisational costs, which often take a large
that level. Local difference thus gets reduced to share of project funds, can be shown as in-country
simple categories and objectives, often, so it costs by the donor NGO. Partnership with a local
appears, more for the primary benefit of the or in-country NGO also shifts responsibility from
framing organisation than for the purposes of the intermediary NGO on to some local figures,
supporting local initiative and participation. and provides an alibi for its eventual disengage-
At one end of the chain is the funding organ- ment , either at the end of the project cycle or before,
isation, which has strongly developed mechan- if the relationship between organisations or with
isms for the filtering and re-interpretation of local locals turns sour. Bad projects can be put down to
and other project proposals. Each of these is institutional capacity-building for counterparts.
linked to the availability of funds, and thus NGOs must negotiate with local subjects in
crucially to the project's possibilities. Funding, order to incorporate them on the terms of the
for example, is available for some 'sectors' and objectives they are given. They must aim to
not others; this year, one 'initiative' is named; secure local agreement, and/or at least visible
next year, another. Environmental initiatives compliance with desired rationalities and
followed appropriate technology; 'women in practices. This negotiation links, with various
development' came next; then a more embracing effects, officially and politically sanctioned goals,
concern with sustainable human development. objectives, and practices with local people and
Each sector and initiative typically includes places that hitherto were not within their reach.
particular objectives which define it as being this NGOs have the ability to make disparate constitu-
sector or initiative, and not some other. However, encies accessible; they speak the language at both
different agendas, with uneven filtering and ends, and can represent one in terms of the other.
opportunistic translation of local situations and While representation and mediation can benefit
rationalities at each organisational point along the local communities, other outcomes are always a
chain, ensure that this transition is not as smooth real possibility.
and simple as represented here. In order to achieve their widely cast goals,
Development organisations must be able to then, organisations must get down to practice.
represent themselves to funders and beneficiaries Unlike vision, practice is resource-dependent and
alike as the embodiment and means of the realisa- involves specific, limited people, trying to make
tion of development ideals such as justice and the best of a situation that is not as simple as the
56 Development and Patronage

project documents claim. This tying together is by allocated to them by the project, they become
no means always entirely successful. There are 'deviant'; or, by various means of foot-dragging
agency costs (time, frustration) associated with and flight, they resist. As development workers,
supervision and motivation, and not all employees we are poorly equipped to deal with this reality in
are able to realise the organisation's practical a positive way, one that can grasp the significance
objectives. Local people's participation may be of the richly diverse means by which local people
crowded out by executive expertises and control try to capitalise on the opportunities the project
of practices and finances. Or they may simply not might provide. A common response to the
have time or incentive to participate as hoped. deviance is to remind local people of the object-
Fortunately for the organisation, however, the ives or, as one Australian development worker
events supposedly set in train by projects are confided, to 'nail the bastards to the implem-
seldom evaluated for long-term sustainability. entation schedule'. We screw down the resources,
What is sustained is the organisation, and its so that they don't travel off the course mapped out
organising, framing practices. for them.
Nevertheless, the work of public representa- Pressures of work mean there is little time, or
tion must go on, as it generates the organisation's reward, to think about how the system might be
income. Loose ends are tidied away, and failures changed, let alone what it would look like if change
represented and filed (internally to the organisa- occurred. Better to find out how to make it work
tion) as lessons learned. Successes are trumpeted as efficiently as possible, where the shortcuts and
to supporters and funders in reports and promo- loopholes are, and leave it to someone else to make
tional material, but very little is done to ensure the rules, or the critical comment that might affect
that a close analysis of the mechanisms that led to the funding. But there is another side to practice.
the success is made available to other organisa- The creativity with which development profes-
tions. Attempts at 'replication' may follow: the sionals approach the framing of projects in order
reproduction of the same organisation's project in to get them funded suggests that people are not
a geographically and socially different (though only well aware of the framing process, but are
close enough) locale. A good KAPB (that is, a able to manipulate it too. Our experience is that
published one) on an HTV/AIDS intervention there is much room to move. But to see beyond the
project in Vietnam is quickly used to legitimate framing process, it is necessary to be more delib-
the same in another project in Burma (Myanmar). erately involved in two things: the creation of
Occasionally, one organisation's success becomes space and enablement. The first involves the
a benchmark and model for others to follow. At ethical and political act of creating space to allow
present, however, a good deal more might be done the subjects of development to make their own
to ensure the flow of useful information over the representations and projections, if needs be in
boundaries formed by organisational frames. opposition to the frames we construct for them. It
probably also involves a great deal more rule-
bending and subterfuge on the part of development
Conclusions
professionals, given that much of the industry is
Must it be like this? Must the multiple framing geared to reduce, not expand, the autonomy of
mechanisms always carry the day, circumscrib- local people. Enablement involves a determination
ing creative agency, and bounding participation? to facilitate other people's access to the framing
As it happens, of course, in the less than ideal tools of our development; the language, the instit-
world of everyday project reality, the local partic- utional acumen, the planning technologies.
ipants rarely engage with our ideals and object- Neither of these two requirements is without
ives in quite the way we intended. They do not instance, but examples in practice seem to have
fully disengage from their own dreams and ideals, occurred at the behest of the project, where people
but bring them along on the project journey, and have seized upon spaces where things are not well
try to realise them within the confined space of the defined, or where things can happen when some-
project. In terms of the space, time, and categories one else is not looking.
Framing participation 57

It seems to us that enhancing the space- References


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Apthorpe, R. (1986) 'Development policy dis-
new skills, skills that fall well outside the project-
course' , Public Administration and Development, 6:
planning and management-training courses that
377-89.
tend these days to scoop up the more creative
Bernstein, R. J. (1983) Beyond Objectivism and
NGO and local-agency development workers in
Relativism: Science, Hermeneutics and Praxis,
response to the relentless demands for 'profess-
Oxford: Blackwell.
ionalism' and 'accountability' to the master
Chambers, R. (1994) 'Poverty and Livelihoods:
framers. And new organisational forms: the
Whose Reality Counts', paper to UNDP
fostering of local networks on a semi-permanent
Stockholm Roundtable, 'Change: Social Conflict
basis, of encounters between planners and locals
or Harmony?', Overview Paper n , mimeo.
who may or may not form an intermediary
Giddens, A. (1991) Modernity and Self Identity:
organisation in their own right.
Self and Society in the Late Modern Age, Polity.
And finally, activities and skills in develop-
Hirschman, A. (1967) Development Projects
ment practice which could foster the creation of
Observed, Washington DC: Brookings Institute.
space and enablement would require a different Plummer, D. and D. Porter (1997) 'Epidemiol-
outlook. This has been advocated many times ogical categories: foundations or fallacies', in G.
before, and Robert Chambers' 'new profes- Linge and D. Porter (eds), No Place for Borders:
sionalism' seems to capture much of what is HIV/AIDS and Development in Asia and the
required (Chambers 1994). But, more than this: Pacific, Sydney: Allen and Unwin.
What we desperately need today is to learn to Porter, D. (1995) 'Scenes from childhood: the
think and act more like the fox than the hedgehog homesickness of development discourses', in J.
to seize upon those experiences and struggles Crush (ed.) The Power of Development, London:
in which there are still glimmerings of solidarity Routledge.
and promise of dialogic communities in which Rose, N. and P. Miller (1992) 'Political power
there can be genuine mutual participation and beyond the State: problematics of government',
where reciprocal wooing and persuasion can British Journal of Sociology, 43(2): 173-205.
prevail. For what is characteristic of our contem-
porary situation is not just the playing out of
powerful forces that are always beyond control, The authors
or the spread of disciplinary techniques that are David Craig is at the National Centre for
always beyond our grasp, but a paradoxical Development Studies, Australian National Univ-
situation where power creates counter-power ersity, where he is researching the impact of
and reveals the vulnerability ofpower, where the economic liberalisation on local health and
veryforces that undermine and inhibit communal pharmaceutical use in Vietnam.
life also create new, and frequently unpred- Doug Porter is Regional Technical Adviser
ictable, forms of solidarity. (Bernstein 1983) for the UN Capital Development Fund, based in
Kampala. He is a Fellow of the National Centre
for Development Studies at the Australian
National University, and has had a long associa-
tion with Community Aid Abroad in Indochina,
the Philippines, and east Africa.
This article first appeared in Development in
Practice Volume 7, Number 3, in 1997.
58

Sustainable development at the sharp


end; field-worker agency in a participatory project

Cecile Jackson

The direction of much modern social theory strategies, and thereby actively shapes the project.
suggests that in development studies we may There has been a widespread recognition of the
have been rather too structuralist in our importance of the work cultures, conditions, and
approaches to development policy, programmes, relationships of this person, often on the lowest
and projects: too concerned with the formal, the rung of the organisation in terms of status and
planned, the intended, too willing to see institu- authority but capable of making, or breaking, a
tions as sets of rules and procedures (Giddens project (Wade 1992, Goetz 1996). Curiously,
1984; Clay and Schaffer 1984; Long and Long however, participatory thinking often casts the
1992; Booth 1994). Current interest in agency- field-worker as desirably passive, responding to
oriented and actor-oriented analysis of social the initiatives of villagers but not imposing his or
change suggests, on the other hand, a different her own subjectivity. This notion of the field-
vision: of a mutual determination between indiv- worker is unrealistic (for no person can efface his
idual action and social structures, of choice, or her identity in such a way), and is a potentially
resistance and struggle, of the power of the appar- costly illusion.
ently weak, of the multiplicity and contingency of
perceptions of reality, of the negotiated character
of development outcomes rather than the imposi- The project context
tion of policy. The implications for development This paper is a reflection on some social-
practice include the questioning of the degree to development issues which have arisen in the first
which development plans and policy can ever be five years of the Rain-fed Farming Project (RFP),
'implemented' in a straightforward way, or the Eastern India, funded by ODA.1 The RFP started
degree to which outcomes relate to intentions; a in 1989 in three States (Orissa, Bihar, and West
lesser emphasis on designs, plans, blueprints, and Bengal) and was conceived as a project which
rules and a greater emphasis on enlisting support, would 'develop a new approach for the develop-
often via participation, for shared development ment of rain-fed areas, specifically incorporating
aims, on changing attitudes and work cultures so the principles of poverty focus, participation,
that agency becomes an opportunity rather than a minimum subsidy and the involvement of
(subversive) constraint. There is a special interest women' (ODG 1995). The analysis of the failure
here in the particular experience of the 'street of the Green Revolution to benefit rain-fed areas
level bureaucrat' (Lipsky 1980), i.e. the person mainly emphasised the inability of poor farmers
who is at the direct interface of project with to adopt crop technologies requiring a high input
people, and the ways in which this shapes their of cash, except where adoption has been induced
agency, their choices, their interpretations and by heavy subsidies (by which was meant
Sustainable development at the sharp end 59

resources offered to farmers at below cost). interface gave them considerable influence in
Genuine participation, and sustainability, were shaping what the project was to become.
seen in terms of farmer adoption without sub- The diaries used in this paper refer to three
sidies. The project aimed to focus on the needs of clusters, two in Bihar and one in West Bengal.
resource-poor farmers, on development without They are referred to as cluster A and B (both in
recourse to subsidies, with the full involvement of Hazaribagh District of Bihar) and C (in Purulia
women in all aspects of the development process. District of West Bengal); information from
Participation was conceived as villagers playing diaries is referenced by location and date.2 The
'a full part in the choice, testing, and development diaries contain a wide range of material: accounts
of innovations ... [as] the surest way of arriving at of on-going project activities; the thoughts and
low-cost technologies appropriate to villagers' experiences of the VMs; notes on meetings and
own circumstances' (ODG, 1995:1). conversations with villagers; brief reports on
The structure of the project was based on a items of research. They were kept daily (or
team consisting of a Cluster Agronomist (CA) nearly) and reveal a 'blow by blow' account of the
and a Village Motivator (VM) covering each making of a project. The material has had to be
cluster of two or three villages, located in the used selectively; here I have selected that which
poorest parts of eight poor districts. Each district illuminates the subject position of VMs. All three
was coordinated by a District Agronomist (DA), of these diaries were kept by men. I have
and each of the three States had a Senior Motiv- elsewhere (Jackson 1997) examined the gender-
ator (SM). A Women in Development (WID) cell related aspects of the experiences of VMs and
was established at the Bihar headquarters in participators at this project interface.
Ranchi, and at the head office in Calcutta there Sustainability was conceived as necessary in
were subject specialists (crops, soils, agro- environmental, social, and political terms. Doing
forestry) , as well as a participation specialist (over sustainable poverty-reduction through the RFP
a short period), staff engaged in monitoring and involved no or minimal subsidies, since low-
evaluation (M&E), and the Project Manager. The external-input agriculture was seen as both envir-
CAs were older than the VMs, and had technical onmentally sustainable and socially sustainable,
skills or qualifications. since a subsidy-dependent activity cannot endure
The analysis here is based on interviews with in poor areas in the absence of State or project
field-staff of RFP, carried out on two visits to the intervention. This approach had a number of
project, and on the detailed daily records kept in implications for field-staff. One is that the project
three field-worker diaries over a period of three to tends to be self-targeting towards the poor, since
five years. The diaries were kept by all VMs and better-off farmers can gain little from direct
are official, in that staff were asked by project participation; for example seed quantities distrib-
management to keep them. Thus they are not uted are less than a kilogram. Another benefit is
explicitly personal, and what was written in them that the absence of subsidy allows RFP to remain
no doubt reflected the expectation (at least at the free from the unwanted attentions of the panch-
beginning of their employment) that they would ayats (elected councils covering groups of five
be read by their superiors. In practice they were villages), in States where political rivalry at local
almost never read, however: only two comments level results in attempts to monopolise projects
(both by consultants, not project managers) were for the benefit of particular groups. The absence
found in one of the three diaries, to indicate that of subsidised inputs, however, also makes the
anyone had read it. The diary became a useful work of the VM and CA more difficult, for all
record for the VM of activities and discussions other development organisations do offer at least
and, at times, an outlet for frustrations and con- payment for labour.
cerns which give insights into the field-workers' Institutional sustainability was, at the project-
experience and the operation of the project. VMs design stage, seen as best approached through
were in a structurally weak position within the working with a State-funded institution, such as
project and yet, I shall argue, their position at the the Hindustani Fertiliser Corporation (HFC),
60 Development and Patronage

with permanent staff seconded to work on the bad' (H, 30 December 1991). The people in Boro-
RFP. However, such organisations were in the gora were still refusing to talk to him by the end of
process of being overtaken by history in the January 1992, and he records that he went and
form of economic liberalisation and HFC has helped them harvest mustard for a whole day, at
now been replaced by KRIBHCO, a marketing the end of which he writes with relief: 'Mr Maka-
cooperative with western Indian roots, as the deo Munda smiled.' A few days later they speak
management organisation; in this organisation to him a little about their declining maize yields,
almost all staff are on short-term contracts.3 but on his next visit they confront him with a
The position of the VM at the interface of the rejection, saying 'We don't want anyone to come
project with village society means that s/he is the into our village.' One older person says: 'We are
person who brokers the deals whereby project and illiterate and can't read anything so I shall not be
participants cooperate in activities; who inter- able to know what you are writing.' In despair the
prets the project to the people and vice versa; who VM writes: 'I was standing where I had started!'
negotiates differences of opinion; who enlists He offered to write nothing. At the end of Feb-
people into project activities and allows the pro- ruary the VM records the following exchanges:
ject to be enlisted into their agendas; who man-
Today I went to Badka Karam and they asked me
ages the interlocking of the perceived interests of
a series of questions. They asked me 'Are you
the project and the people. The VM is therefore
from missionaries?' I said no. I am from HFC
vital to the project and also carries a peculiar
who make fertilisers. They looked happy and said
burden of interpretation, being part of two worlds.
'Well give me a packet of fertiliser'. Then again I
The next section describes the shape of the told that I am not giving you anyfertilisers simply
VMs' experience over the first few years of the I want to improve your cultivation by good seeds.
project, how they enlisted participants and imple- Then one young man told 'Oh you are VLW!41
mented the poverty focus, and the contradictions said no. He looked a bit confused.
faced at the sharp end.
VMs encountered considerable resistance and
fear, and faced real problems in explaining their
Field-worker identity identity. They needed to establish a new kind of
One insight gained from studying the VM diaries relationship with villagers which had few
is the realisation of how, over time, a project is parallels; it was not based on authority or on hand-
shaped through the accumulation of daily inte- outs: it demanded cooperation and trust of a
ractions of staff and participants. All the diaries stranger, from people who had little reason to
record the initial encounters with the poor tribal believe the promises of educated and privileged
and low-caste communities in which the VMs 'outsiders'. The comments recorded in the
went to live, and the problems of communicating diaries, and the time and effort taken to open up
what the project was, and who they were, across communication, raise a large question mark over
the divides of language, culture, education, and any expectations that poor village people will-
class. All mention the hostility, fear, and con- ingly divulge truthful and accurate information in
fusion between themselves and the villagers. The one-off 'participatory' research exercises, and
VM in cluster A mentions one very common suggests that project initiation is a lengthy pro-
problem when explaining the trial programme: cess. The VM of cluster B writes of the problems
' Most of the farmers are afraid... they were saying of identity and communication as follows:
that their land may be taken away' (A, 9 June
In these 8 months I find that to make one's identity
1989). Fear and suspicion are vividly recorded by
like government official is very easy. Like
the VM in cluster B, who wrote in December
whenever I went to any village they gave me a cot
1991, when he first went to live there: 'In Boro-
to sit on and offered water to drink. But as far as
gora fanners simply refused to speak to me.'
project philosophy is concerned one has to make
People ask about his real work and do not believe
rapport ... (and) they should start coming with
his account of the RFP; he sadly notes: 'I felt it
Sustainable development at the sharp end 61

their own ideas. To charge them to speak objectives, and what emerged from open dis-
something of their own is time taking. (B, 27 cussions with villagers. In discussions of needs,
February 1992) most villagers expressed their wish for irrigation
facilities (for example, A, 16 December 1989 and
He recognises too, with the word 'charge' that he C, 28 April 1992), yet the RFP was committed to
requires them to communicate and participate. crop technologies for dryland development. The
Clearly village people tried to fit the VM into the RFP agreed with villagers that rain-fed areas were
role of one of the familiar cast of characters, known poor because they lacked irrigation, but differed
if not loved, in rural India. The cast may vary from in that the RFP seemed to view irrigation as
State to State: in West Bengal, where the peasant costly, inequitable, and physically unfeasible for
vote is courted by politicians, the VM was suspect- the majority of farmers. The persistent express-
ed for a long time of being a politician (some saw ions of desire for irrigation reflect the social status
his beard as conclusive evidence), a suspicion far of many of those who initially approached, or
from the minds of Biharis, whose democratic clout communicated with, the VM. The VM resistance
is largely irrelevant to local politics. These records to enrolment in demands for irrigation was nec-
of first encounters suggest that, even with well- essary, given the project's focus on poverty, but
trained and committed staff, a minimal inter- not comfortable, given the feeling that the project
action and degree of trust are difficult and slow to should respond to expressed needs. The apparent
establish. The formative experiences of VMs left contradictions between elements of the project
them desperate to get something going, in a weak approach have to be resolved by the VM. How
bargaining position, and disinclined to make does a VM decline enrolment in a villagers'
much of the poverty focus. project? One example is recorded for cluster A,
where a check dam was being demanded: the VM
explained to people that 'The paths will be shown
Mutual enrolment by field-workers
to them and they will have to walk on that path by
and participants
themselves' (A, 5 May 1989). How to decline,
The VM diaries also show the early staking out of though, is probably less difficult than the
positions by actors. The explanations by the VM decisions over what to decline.
of the project objectives and the perception by
Project enrolment involved a number of differ-
villagers of the dependence of the VM on their
ent kinds of participant relations. There were (at
cooperation are glimpsed in other comments,
least) the relations with ordinary project partici-
such as when a VM records the persistent,
pants, and those with people who became brokers
explicit, and almost threatening demands for
and facilitators, with a closer involvement and a
water from villagers: 'Farmers said "If you want
sense of shared responsibility. Such 'super-
to develop, give me well, otherwise nothing can
participants' seemed to be people who became
be done'" (B, December 1991). The tenacity of
personal friends of the VM, or especially cooper-
farmers' demands for irrigation is remarkable in
ative individuals who placed a high value on their
all areas: in cluster A, after three years of project
connection with the project. It would be too crude
involvement, a note in the diary for 3 October
to suggest that such people were only the power-
1992 shows that farmers are still asking for pumps
ful, conspiring to turn the project to their own
and check dams.
ends; there were also those who had enhanced
The process of mutual enrolment, by per- their social standing through project identifica-
suasion and by threat, eventually involves some tion, or for whom the visits of consultants (for
kind of compromise in areas of shared interest, there is no doubt that visitors tend to see the same
but it takes some time to get there. Most VMs people when they visit) validated their own idea
faced a double challenge: the misconception that of themselves, or who simply liked and got on
they had more resources on offer than they in fact well, at a personal level, with the VM. Friends of
could command, and the mismatch between what field-workers tend not to be from the opposite sex,
they actually had to offer, given the project or to cross other major social divides.
62 Development and Patronage

Over time, the project and the people, or a money to villagers in need, and at least one took
selection of them, increasingly accommodate land in return for a loan, which he began to farm.
themselves to what is known of the other, and
each becomes skilled in representing their wishes
in ways which are likely to be more acceptable.
Field-worker discretion
For example, in cluster C, farmers learned the Field-worker discretion (Goetz 1996) allows the
discourse of participation and, after four years of shape of the project to be influenced, to varying
the project's existence,presented a suggestion for degrees, by the personal choices, opinions, and
the purchase of crop-spraying equipment as behaviour of staff at the lowest level. Field-
something 'which will help in group action ... a worker discretion may be a question of selecting
sprayer can play a vital role in establishing what initiatives the field-worker responds to. The
harmony' (C,28 November 1993).The 'harmony discretionary element, the field-worker agency, is
and group action' card was played by these often invisible (Wade 1992), for various reasons:
farmers in an attempt to mitigate the agrochem- the representation of discretionary choices as
ical-input and subsidy-dependent aspects of then- determined by project policy, concealment of
request, which are not favoured by the project. various kinds, and the tendency for villagers to
The growing conflation of the personal and collude in field-worker representations to out-
professional lives of the village-resident VMs siders. Added to this is the dominant view in
over time is an important feature of field-workers' participatory thinking of the field-worker as
experience and behaviour. Living in the village relatively passive in relation to the active
removes the usual separation between personal participant. The tip of the discretionary iceberg is
seen in some of the field-worker activities which
and professional life to a large extent and has
were unsuccessful, in that they attracted a degree
considerable implications, which the diaries
of disapproval from other project staff. One direct
reveal. The VM in cluster A learns about corrup-
example is the action taken by a CA in West
tion (A, 9 May 1989) in the withholding of
Bengal who planted Shabita (a new paddy
women's wages by contractors, but is unable to
variety) at the village tank, i.e. on intensively
do anything about it; on other occasions he notes
managed lowland, despite the project emphasis
social problems beyond his control. VMs struggle
on rain-fed upland crops. He was rebuked by HFC
to defend the boundaries of the personal, and to
and no further lowland promotion took place;
cope with the discomforts of life and the small but
nevertheless, the variety took off as a successful
cumulative physical and mental privations of
lowland crop.
village life. In cluster B, the VM explains that he
is so much in view that he cannot eat chicken More indirectly, we get glimpses of field-
because it would be tactless, given the poverty of worker discretion which does not overtly trans-
the villagers and his wish to identify with them. gress project policy. In Orissa a District Agron-
This becomes acute in drought years, and he omist (DA), using his discretion, tried unsucc-
records after a bad year that 'Farmers have essfully to get a canalisation scheme funded by
nothing to eat, whenever I go to them they ask for the Block Development Officer (BDO) for a
food, so they can feed their children' (B, October small group of farmers, including the sarpanch
1992). On other occasions he has a hard time (the head of the panchayat) of one village. Both
politely refusing offers of alcoholic drink from the DA and the CA complained widely that the
tribals (27 January 1992). After the 1993 drought, BDO had finally failed to approve the scheme,
the VM writes that farmers are coming daily for claiming a corrupt reallocation to another applic-
financial aid and that he 'does not loan but where ant. The CA and DA took a series of visiting con-
he can he donates '(19 April 1993). This is clearly sultants to see the individual who was to have
a stressful situation, shared by most VMs. As the been the main beneficiary of the scheme, and
monsoon fails in cluster C, the VM writes poign- thereby publicised what they saw as a good initia-
antly that 'Everybody is looking to the sky with tive which the project (given the approach to
blank eyes' (C, 2 July 1991). Some VMs do lend subsidies) was unable to support directly. They
Sustainable development at the sharp end 63

made it clear that the project approach to such the specific project experiences in the three
cases, to assist in accessing State BDO funds, States, but in a complex way, both defending and
failed as a result of the inefficiencies and corrup- conceding the poverty focus, depending on
tion of the State. Field-worker resistance to the circumstances.
project's approach to subsidies was greater from
the agronomists, who were trained within differ-
ent development paradigms, and who were less Field-worker authority and PRA
concerned about the poverty focus than VMs One area which demonstrates the limitations on
were. The persistent steerage of visitors to the project plans deriving from the particular social
fanner who did not get the canalisation appeared position of the VM was the experience with
to be part of a lobbying campaign to bring the Participatory Rural Appraisal. PRA exercises
issue to the attention of those who might help to were conducted by VMs as the basis for work-
redirect the anti-subsidy policy through conced- plans; but, despite the PRA training, widely held
ing the value of the canalisation project, the to be well done with plenty of practical work, and
worthiness of the beneficiaries, and the absence visits to clusters from a well-known foreign
of alternatives indicated by the failure of the expert, most VMs did not have a happy exper-
application for BDO funding. Field-worker dis- ience with PRA as a means of discovering
cretion can amount to subversion. The use of par- farmers' priorities and preferences, and doing
ticular participants as regular contributors and participatory planning. One striking feature is that
interviewees in consultancy visits is one means by no diary noted refusals from villagers when the
which field-workers can selectively represent foreign expert was demonstrating PRA methods,
their work and lobby for changes in policy. but when the VMs tried to use them independ-
VM discretion is called into play particularly ently, villagers expressed opposition. The most
in the tension between the poverty focus of the likely explanation, given the empathy of VMs
project and the social pressures within villages with villagers, is that villagers' cooperation with
towards interaction with the more prosperous. demonstration PRA exercises was at least partly
This took a number of forms: the problem of based on the implicit authority of the foreign
whether to accept the hospitality of the Mukiya expert, which the VM lacked when seeking to use
the village head; the unwillingness of poor PRA independently. The VM of cluster A found
farmers to stick to agreed locations of trial plots, that farmers in one hamlet blankly refused to
or to share the seed of successful varieties; the cooperate with wealth-ranking (A, 15 December
ethical dilemmas of the risk of crop failure in 1989); and the VM in cluster B expressed his
experimentation with poor farmers; the pressures problems with carrying out preference-ranking
from wealthier farmers for seed, and their sneers and social-mapping thus: 'When I ask them to
at 'crop neglect' by poor farmers. The diaries think about themselves and to do preference rank-
show VMs' inclinations towards a less rigid focus ing, social mapping, they get confused' (February
on poverty and their rehearsal of arguments that 1992). He remarks that 'PRA is a long process.
'the project should also include such surplus Here things doesn't come out very easily' (27
members who are morally well enough to help the February 1992). What an 'expert' can do on the
deficit group' (A, 26 June 1991). Discretion in basis of implicit authority is not necessarily
this direction was also exercised in the enthu- replicable by the VM.
siasm for 'block planting groups' which involved If the authority of the VM was inadequate to
all contiguous farmers (of whatever status) engage villagers in PRA, it was also problematic
planting together, and in the manipulation of within the management organisation. After
wealth-ranking, which was carried out so loosely eventually making his diagrams and maps and
as to classify the vast majority (some 80 per cent) presenting them at a project planning workshop,
of many villages as deficit, i.e. as the target group. the VM of cluster B returns to his village and
Overall, the diaries show that the VMs notes that the PRA materials presented were not
substantially influenced the course of events in accepted and that 'the revision of the preference
64 Development and Patronage

ranking [for agroforestry tree species] was PRA here, arguably, both silences spontaneous
essential'. He repeats the ranking, but gets the demands and elicits at least a re-packaging within
same result. the vocabulary of participation, and at most a
Furthermore, in this case, the outcome did not complete revision of 'local' priorities.
suggest that the methods had indeed uncovered What much of the diary evidence suggests is
preferences strong enough to sustain active that participation is understood as a discourse by
involvement, for by 14 September 1992, when villagers, a vocabulary which brings them into
drought has hit cluster B, the VM finds farmers transactions with project staff, but from which
watering their papaya plants but not the sisoo, they still seek material gain. For them particip-
which are dying, and on enquiry he finds a lack of ation is not an end in itself; it is the name of the
interest in sisoo, because timber is available in the game. Coming to meetings in order to get access
forest and sisoo takes a long time to reach matur- to new seeds, or the food distributed at meetings,
ity . These species were, however, those chosen on is one thing; sharing the time and information
the basis of preference-ranking. Supporters of required by PRA, without any immediate return,
PRA may argue that the ranking may have been is another. The VM as 'street level bureaucrat'
done incorrectly. This is possible, but if a method experiences quite profound power-shifts which
cannot be reliably used by well-trained, highly mean that his or her ability to carry through
motivated graduates, its usefulness is surely open project objectives, or indeed to subvert them, is
to question. Later still, the diary shows the very dependent on context. Weakness and
farmers failing to show up for nursery training, strength co-exist in quite contradictory ways, as
and it is difficult to escape the conclusion that the next section elaborates in looking at relations
incentives amount to more than sound with other project staff and external
preference-ranking, and that such ranking is not a organisations.
definitive statement of a static and generalised
preference.5
Field-worker relations within and
A series of diary entries in cluster A illustrates
between institutions
some of the problems and ironies of the VM situa-
tion. In cluster A, a sequence of diary entries The VMs' legitimacy in village opinion depends
records that farmers in meetings are repeatedly to quite a large degree on their ability to command
demanding irrigation in late 1989. Then the practical support from State institutions which are
famous foreign PRA expert visits for a night (25 hierarchical, bureaucratic, and corrupt; to bring
January 1990), folio wed by the VM going out and important visitors to their clusters; and to be seen
doing social-mapping and holding discussions as having a high status beyond the village. Yet
with villagers in which 'problems were identified they bear markers of low status in that external
by tamarind seeds' (D, 26 January 1990). The world such as residence in a village, youth, or
irony of the vociferous villagers demanding sometimes tribal origins. Similarly, within the
irrigation, which the VM is unable to provide, project staff, although the CA and VM were con-
given the poverty focus of the RFP, and the sub- sidered a team, the reality was rather different. An
sequent turn to divination by tamarind seed was indication is seen in the note in the cluster A diary
not, I think, lost on the VM. The VM comments in following an ODA visit, when a Social Develop-
the following days that he has visited the sites that ment Adviser asks what would happen in his
the expert had visited and everywhere they asked cluster if he was not there. He notes his reply: that
him what had been the purpose of the visit. He the CA could not cope,because 'the CA cannot do
explains. Villagers seemed puzzled and suspic- all the work. He cannot run after every plots' (A,
16 September 1990). Interestingly, he justifies his
ious in the aftermath of the PRA. One can under-
position in terms of being the person who actually
stand the puzzlement of those who, after clearly
visits and supervises the trials a kind of assist-
articulating what they saw as problems (lack of
ant to the CA not as a social analyst, not as a
irrigation), are asked to play games with tamarind
facilitator, or as the implementor of the non-
seeds to discover what the problems were. The
Sustainable development at the sharp end 65

agronomic project activities. This level of insec- Thus the experiments with seed-multiplication
urity reflects the de facto relations between CA encountered disapproval from the consultants and
and VM, in which the cultural attributes of status ceased; and the consultants' continuing concern
(here age, caste, technical education, permanent with identifying the socio-economic status of
employment) disempower the VM, the person participants resulted in a visit which suggested the
who is at the front line. use of wealth-ranking to classify and monitor
VMs also have to manage the interface with participating households (A, 5 December 1989).
other institutions, such as those of State rural The VMs were always keen to respond to consult-
development agencies, where they are at the front ants' advice, even where it was problematic, as
line in a clash of organisational styles. While the wealth-ranking was.
field-worker is relatively powerful in an informal The activities in any one cluster, therefore, are
and everyday sense, the external status of field- a mixture of actors' preferences, including those
worker is quite low. The bureaucratic problems of visiting consultants, in which the significance
for a relatively low-status field-worker operating of farmers' preferences is difficult to gauge. For
within the very structured and hierarchical work example, in cluster A, the move towards what was
cultures of the Indian State, such as in trying to called agro-forestry emerged mainly from project
locate and obtain suitable seed, proved consid- managers and consultants; at cluster-level, meet-
erable. In Dantokhurd, the VM records a trip to ings were held in March 1990 to discover
Birsa University for this purpose in which he was 'farmers' choice' of trees. Following this, a meet-
kept waiting for four hours before being referred ing was held in April to plan a eucalyptus planta-
to three different departments, where he had to tion but no one attended. The VM discovered
haggle (with only partial success) for seed, and that on that day some of the people concerned had
was then sent to the university farm, where he gone to their daily work and others had attended a
waited for an hour only to be told that the farm meeting over the rape of a small girl by a 14-year
had closed and he should come back the next day. old boy. The VM, however, continued to push
He spent the night in Ranchi and returned in the agro-forestry and by early May was told by his
morning, but had to wait until the afternoon to be superior that, before the imminent consultants'
issued with the seed and then several more hours visit, 'agroforestry program is to be given stress
in order to pay (A, 4 October 1989). and trial plot should be selected' (A, 3 May 1990).
The VM still fails to get participant support and
Village residence results in friendships as well
plaintively notes on 18 May 1991 that he is doing
as less welcome obligations and demands. In
it 'I, myself, alone'. The VM is willing to sub-
cluster B, the VM found himself under consider-
stitute for the participants in order to cover the gap
able pressure to represent the villagers in
between the consultants' desires and the particip-
approaching the BDO for a well. He tried to
ants ' resistance, rather than challenge the consult-
explain that this was not his job, but they insisted,
ants , or reveal the absence of participation. Where
pointing to his education and greater ability to
interlocking projects cannot be constructed, the
command the attention of the BDO, an argument
VM shoulders the burden.
which proved hard to deny or resist. The social
dynamics of power and patronage may help to The question of whom the consultants choose
deliver more apparent evidence of project to speak to has been raised in connection with
achievements, but at the same time threaten field-worker discretion; it is also an issue with
longer-term sustainability, and possibly the participants, who frequently make comments and
danger of abuse of power. This is a dilemma con- criticisms to VMs about being excluded. Particip-
fronted daily by VMs. ants also clearly saw high visibility to consultants
The VMs' relations with external consultants as a favour dispensed by the VM (with the
are described in their diaries.6 One aspect of possibility of resources following in the wake of
consultants' roles was that they directed the consultants' visits), and complaints were made
project back to a focus on poverty when the press- when certain hamlets, often the less accessible,
ures in the village began seriously to undermine it. felt left out (C, 23 September 1991). A greater
66 Development and Patronage

problem for consultants to overcome is the degree ment and moving on to new areas. There are also
to which the relationship between field-worker conflicting tensions between the pressures on the
and participants makes it difficult to hold critical VM towards a benign relationship of patronage,
discussions about the project with villagers, who in which the VM is recognised and valued by
tend to close ranks with project staff, understand- local people, and the needs of the project for the
ing the possible consequences of perceived development of sustainable institutions, in which
project failure. Participants and field-staff collude project staff are dispensable, in advance of the
in representing success. withdrawal of the project. As a participatory
As far as status is concerned, there are contra- mechanism, PRA can, ironically, be difficult to
dictory demands in the field-worker role: low to conduct where field-workers are not in a position
minimise the social distance from villages and of authority. Finally, consultants have been, and
facilitate participation, but high in order to have will continue to be, important actors in the shap-
effective relations outside the village; formally ing of RFP in indirect ways, of which they will
equal to the technical staff, but informally inferior usually be unaware and to which there needs to be
to them. In addition, the pressures towards patron- greater sensitivity.
age within the social dynamics of the village, but When the subjectivity of field-workers is
against it in project objectives, are real problems addressed, a less innocent view of participation
in the lived experience of field-workers but follows from the insight that farmers and field-
largely unrecognised in project planning and workers are engaged in a process of mutual
management. enrolment in their interactions; farmers readily
learn the language of participation, and what is
articulated should not too readily be taken, at face
Conclusions value, as a thoroughgoing adherence to particip-
The field-workers' diaries were an inspired atory philosophies. Participants and field-
suggestion and offer unusual insights into the workers collude in representing project success to
making of a project in a specific local context. 'outsiders', be they HQ staff, evaluators con-
They provide, in long-term projects such as RFP, tracted by donors, local or foreign consultants;
a valuable opportunity to study interactive change this is rarely taken into account, but is important
during the course of a development intervention. to both evaluations and the working under-
Some of the lessons learned from their analysis standing of the project by all non-field-staff.
derive from an understanding of the social pos- As well as offering some observations on the
tioning of the village-based field-worker, and character of the RFP, I hope this paper has made a
others are gained from the view of the field- convincing case that we should conceive of both
worker as a subject interactively constructing the field-workers and participants as active agents,
project around his or her own understandings and interacting at the critical social interface, and
villagers' own 'projects', rather than as a project trying to find common ground between project
'implementor'. objectives and villagers' aspirations and desires.
The diaries show that it takes time to establish Project managers, funders, and consultants can
meaningful contact with poor villagers, and this learn a great deal from a better understanding of
process cannot be accelerated. It is not the case the struggles of field-workers at the sharp end,
that a model of participation can be evolved in one recognition of which is long overdue.
place and then applied elsewhere much more
quickly, and the implication for the expansion of
the RFP is that movement to new areas may well Notes
need as much time as the work in the original 1 I thank the following people for helpful
clusters. Understanding the complexities of comments on the draft of this paper: Ros Eyben,
power and patronage in field-worker experience Mike Wilson, Richard Palmer-Jones, Sarah Lad-
indicates potential problems in the notion of a bury, Ian Carruthers, Alan Rew, and Steve Jones.
catalytic project, igniting participatory develop- This paper is based on two visits to the project,
Sustainable development at the sharp end 67

firstly in the Phase 2 preparation mission, which details of the visit programme and clamorous for
visited project staff in all three States and included feedback after the visits.
time spent with staff in their clusters, and then
later when I spent several weeks researching, with
project field-staff, three cluster histories in 1994-5.
References
1 am grateful for the assistance of PK Mukherjee,Mr Booth, D. (1994) (ed) Rethinking Social Develop-
Phani and all the project staff at RFP. Above all ment: Theory, Research and Practice, London:
else this paper is a tribute to the VMs of the RFP. Longman.
2 Of course, the VM view is only one perspec- Clay, E. and B. Schaffer (eds) (1984) Room for
tive: other important actors were the Indian man- Manoeuvre London: Heinemann.
agement organisation, the Hindustani Fertiliser Goetz, A M . (1996) 'Local Heroes: Patterns of
Corporation (HFC), the funders, Overseas Devel- Fieldworker Discretion in Implementing GAD
opment Administration (ODA), and the UK con- Policy in Bangladesh', Institute of Development
sultants, Overseas Development Group (ODG). Studies Discussion Paper 358.
A secondary stakeholder analysis of the different Giddens, A. (1984) The Constitution of Society:
visions and the interactions of these organisations an Outline of the Theory of Structuration, Cam-
would greatly add to the completeness of the bridge: Polity Press.
story, but is beyond the scope of the paper. Jackson, C. (1997) 'Actor orientation and gender
3 For an interesting comparison, see David relations at a participatory project interface' in A.
Mosse's paper on KRIBP in western India (1995). M. Goetz (ed): Breaking in: Speaking out:
4 Village Level Worker, i.e. an extension agent. Getting Institutions Rightfor Women in Develop-
5 In cluster A the VM had a similarly disheart- ment, London: Zed Press (forthcoming).
ening experience. At one ODA visit the team ask Lipsky, M. (1980) Street-level Bureaucracy:
him about how the tree species are chosen, and the Dilemmas of the Individual in Public Service,
VM replies 'by preference ranking' (A, 20 Sep- New York: Russel Sage.
tember 1991). But still there is much reluctance, Long,N. and N. Long (eds) (1992) Battlefields of
and on 31 March 1992 he writes that he "met Knowledge: the Interlocking of Theory and
Mohan X about the sisoo and eucalyptus planta- Practice in Social Research and Development,
tion. I told him he has to do nursery for which he London: Routledge.
told that he is poor so he cannot look after the Mosse,D. (1995) 'People's knowledge in project
nursery since he has to go for work.' On 11 May planning: the limits and social conditions of part-
the VM held a meeting for' motivation for nursery icipation in planning agricultural development',
raising', because of the lack of support, and at the Overseas Development Institute, Agricultural
meeting the farmers said that it takes much labour Research and Development Network Paper 58.
and that since they are not paid they cannot do it. Overseas Development Group (ODG) (1995)
6 Farmers' comments recorded in the diary 'Handover report from ODG to ODA, covering
reveal something of the mystery surrounding the period April 1989-March 1995', University
the visitations of consultants and ODA; in of East Anglia: Norwich.
1990 the VM of cluster A notes that the farmers Wade, R. (1992) 'How to make "street-level
observe that ODA representatives always come bureaucracies" work better: India and Korea',
before and after harvest, but not during it. It is Institute of Development Studies Bulletin 43 (4),
as if villagers carefully observe the behaviour of 51-4.
consultants and try to make sense of it; they search
for clues in, say, the timing of visits, but remain
rather mystified. Consultants were seldom aware
The author
of the extent to which villagers were prepared Cecile Jackson is a Lecturer at the School of
by the VM for their visits, anxious about the Development Studies at the University of East
out-come of visits, speculative of the deep Anglia. This article first appeared in Development
meanings behind any changes in the timing or in Practice, Volume 7, Number 3, in 1997.
68

North-South relations and the


question of aid

Mustafa Barghouthi

The North-South dynamic and What was not stated is that within each nation
national boundaries there are, and will continue to be, more national
divisions. Similarly ignored is the fact that
The North-South divide is socio-economic
common interests are emerging, uniting people
and political, rather than geographical. Firstly,
across national boundaries. The globalisation of
the so-called North itself suffers from a multi-
issues such as the environment highlights one of
tude of internal social and economic problems.
the most important aspects of North-South
Indeed, many countries in the North are exper-
dynamics: their interdependence. This factor is
iencing internal North-South tensions.
impossible to ignore, whether the subject is the
Secondly, millions of people from the South ozone problem or AIDS. The nuclear accident at
now live within the geographical boundaries Chernobyl is just one example of an environ-
of the North. Even so, they remain part of the mental disaster and resulting health problems
South and, as such, suffer great discrimination in which are not confined to the boundaries of one
Germany, Britain, France, and Italy, and elsewhere. particular nation.
Thirdly, the collapse of the Soviet Union has
Economic exploitation also crosses national
demonstrated that many Eastern European nations
boundaries. Much of what will happen in the future
are in fact so under-developed that they could
depends on the level of skilled human resources
easily be classified as 'Southern' countries.
available in each country: the continuing 'brain
However, there are also divisions within the
drain' from the South to the North demonstrates
South itself. Already, the South is experiencing
that the industrial countries are exploiting the ever-
the 'centre versus periphery' phenomenon. There
widening economic gap to attract the most active
are also divisions resulting in part of the North in
and educated people from the South. This in turn
fact living in the South. In the Middle East, for
strengthens the factors which gave rise to the gap,
example, Israel belongs in economic terms to the
and ensures that it is sustained in the future.
North, while the Occupied Territories are
The gap is universal, with economic, social,
definitely part of the South.
political, and health dimensions. As a result,
Finally, this is a period of transition world-
developing-world debt and economic aid are now
wide, mainly in the economic sphere. As an
instruments to control the economies of the
adviser to the US President recently expressed it, in
South, to keep developing countries in a situation
the future there will 'no longer be national
where their markets, resources, and raw materials
products or technologies, no national corporations
will always be available to serve the interests of
or industries. All that will remain rooted are
the general capital market.
people that comprise a nation.'
North-South relations and the question of aid 69

Quantitative v. qualitative analysis The allocation of funds


Any evaluation of the situation in Southern or The question here is: who determines funding
developing countries must be based on more than priorities? Most often and the Occupied Terri-
conventional quantitative analysis. In the field of tories are a case in point funders arrive without
health, for example, it is not sufficient to measure clearly defined plans or strategy, only a 'charitable'
the infant mortality rate or life expectancy, while mind-set. Generally, priorities are decided by the
ignoring the questions of quality of life, and social funders and not the recipients, which accounts for
justice for people in developing countries. the emphasis on purchasing equipment. For
Inequality is evident even in terms of the cons- example, the EC requires in most cases that a
umption patterns imposed on Southern countries. substantial portion of its support be used to
Many industrial countries export second-rate purchase equipment and, moreover, that this should
materials and goods to the South. Moreover, it is be from the countries providing the funding. Is all
evident that second-rate development standards this equipment really necessary? If huge sums of
are being used. The question of quality must be money are provided for infrastructural costs, what
central to the evaluation of North-South relations. happens in the future if we fail to get the resources
necessary to cover maintenance or running costs?
The contradiction here, or rather the question to
Aid money and North-South which no one has supplied an answer, is how 'self-
relationships reliance' and 'sustainability' can be achieved when
the bulk of funds is being spent on equipment and
The first question is whether it is truly possible to machines, rather than human resources.
establish relations on an equal footing between a
funder and a recipient. Can one honestly speak of
partnerships in this context? Over the last decade,
Training and technical expertise
governments have become the major source of
aid funding, and the vast majority of development Another aspect is the question of training, currently
money takes the form of bilateral government-to- a popular trend among funders. If huge numbers
government support. Northern NGOs are increas- of people in the South are trained, but the facilities
ingly dependent on their governments for funds, or money necessary to employ them are not
and this in turn has resulted in a clear change in the available, eventually they will either leave for the
policies of these organisations. The level of pro- North or be unemployed. The value of training
fessionalism within development aid organisations programmes must be questioned, if they are not
is such that one could even speak of the 'aid clearly linked to provision of running costs or job
business' in the North. The result is that some of opportunities.
these are, in effect, forcing recipient NGOs to Furthermore, while there is a great need in
follow along behind them, thus making them too many developing countries for technical expertise,
dependent on the government aid they receive. it should come not only from the North but also
USAID funding is an example: its operation has from the South. There is no reason why experts
always been political. However, the question is from India cannot be sent to advise certain
whether this aid, or most of it, is actually being programmes in the Occupied Territories, or why a
used in order to develop Southern countries, or Mexican health project cannot benefit from a
whether it is being used primarily to benefit the Palestinian consultant. The flow of expertise need
economy of the North. It is worth examining, for not always be North to South a point even more
example, how much of the money is used to relevant in terms of cost-effectiveness, when the
purchase military equipment or goods that are cost of technical experts from the North is ten to
compatible with Western consumption patterns fifteen times higher than those from the South.
and serve Western marketing needs.
70 Development and Patronage

Fashions in funding Moreover, while recognising the value of


concepts such as self-reliance and sustainability,
Another problem affecting the relationship between
a health organisation, if it operates in an occupied
Northern and Southern organisations is the con-
country, does not have a government which could
stantly shifting priorities of Northern NGOs and
raise taxes and subsidise the health system, and so
governments, to follow the latest trends in devel-
it must be subsidised if it is to reach those most in
opment. Such shifts have a distinct negative
need. An endowment would seem to be the
impact on programmes in the recipient countries,
answer, because it would allow the gradual build-
as in one institution which had initiated a child-
up of self-reliance. However, with very few
health project. The issue of child health was
exceptions, no funding organisation is willing to
attractive to funders at the time, and the project
accept the idea of an endowment. The reason
was supported. However, the following year the
generally given is that with an endowment the
funding agency announced that its new pro-
funding organisation has no guarantee that the
gramme was to be maternal and child health, so
character of the recipient organisation will not
the institution was forced to alter its project to fit
change over time. However, organisations in the
in with this concept. The third year the trend
North receive endowment funds, despite the fact
turned to women's health, and the institution had
that their character may also change. It would
to change its project once again to suit the target
seem more equitable to apply the same standards
interest. Such a situation distorts the recipient
in the South as in the North in this respect.
organisation's objectives and introduces moral
distortion, in that the recipients find themselves
forced either to cheat in their representations to the
funders, or change their programme at the The administrative burden
expense of their own priorities.
A common requirement is that administrative
In addition, the majority of funders insist that
costs should be kept to a minimum, which is fair.
funding should not exceed a period of one to three
Ideally, administrative work should be done on a
years. There are exceptions some organisations
voluntary basis, because this helps a grassroots
have been involved in long-term development
organisation retain its character and integrity.
work for many years and have a different philo-
However, when donors require detailed narrative
sophy but the majority set short-term funding
and financial reports every six months as well as
conditions which call into question the possibility
audited financial reports, they are in fact pushing
of achieving real development. Sometimes aproject recipient organisations towards bureaucratisation,
may need at least one to two years to get on a firm forcing an expansion in the administrative
footing and, if the funding is to last only another structure in order to handle their demands. In the
year, real sustainability is threatened. Yet sustain- Occupied Territories, numerous grassroots
ability is the watchword constantly presented to organisations have been forced in the direction of
recipient organisations. institutionalisation and at that point, many of
Is sustainability a valid concept when aid is them lose forever their grassroots character.
given in small portions, as in the Occupied
Territories? In 1992, western Germany poured
funds into eastern Germany equivalent to the entire
amount of aid that was given to developing Monitoring and evaluation
countries. In one country of 16 million people, the
Evaluations pose yet another challenge to an open
amount of foreign aid money was the same as that
and fair relationship between funding and
going to the rest of the world, from all countries,
recipient organisations. Evaluations are almost
not merely from Germany. This suggests that
always commissioned by the funders those
serious development cannot be achieved by small
providing the money. Furthermore, some donor
sums given here and there. Major structural changes
agencies choose to send an evaluation mission of
are required before true development, aimed at two or three people from the funding country to
self-reliance and self-sufficiency, can be realised.
North-South relations and the question of aid 71

evaluate a programme and try to find solutions to development rather than mere cosmetic changes.
problems that recipient countries or organisations Steps to close the huge economic gap between
may have spent years working out. Never has the North and South are essential, since real change is
evaluation process been reversed, with a Southern impossible without them. Unless the Third World
organisation travelling North to evaluate the work debt is cancelled, the global economy cannot be
of a funder. The organisations in the South are the corrected.
primary beneficiaries of the funding process, as Major emphasis should be placed on human
well as being the ones doing the bulk of the work resources, specifically on skills. If the Northern
on the ground. Shouldn't these be the ones to countries were to divert 50 per cent of what they
evaluate development programmes and judge spend on arms alone, these funds would be sufficient
their success or failure? to institute honest development programmes that
could start the process of closing the economic
gap between countries of South and North.
Apolitical advocacy At a practical level, this should be possible even
in the current international situation, primarily
Finally, there is the widely held view that because of interdependence and the globalisation
development aid must be apolitical and, usually, of issues discussed earlier. Any environmental
based on the concept of charity. When it comes to problems in the South will, for example, affect the
advocacy on difficult questions such as the North and there will be a growing number of
Palestinian-Israeli issue, most organisations interested groups in the North which will fight for
become 'apolitical'. When the USSR collapsed, change. What is needed is a clear vision, clear
however, most funding went to eastern Europe. strategy, clear policies, and lots of creativity. Simi-
This was a political decision. In development, larly, the organisations within developing countries
clearly, any avowedly apolitical move is actually must be self-critical, open-minded, and flexible.
profoundly political. This is especially clear when Finally, one of the biggest challenges facing
one remembers that little development can be grassroots movements and organisations in the
achieved in the absence of democracy. South is to understand the huge changes that have
occurred in the world. Whether they seem
desirable or not, they must be fully understood
Prospects for the future of the before changes can be made and the slogans such
relationship as 'Health for AH' can become an instrument of
real change in a world that has never been so
The first step on the road to changing some aspects powerful, and yet has never been so confused in
of the process of funding development is for its efforts to find the right path towards the future.
Southern organisations to be united in their stand,
and to engage in dialogue with Northern organi-
sations. This should, ideally, have an influence on The author
policy decisions, which would allow changes to
occur. However, the objective is not to form an Dr Mustafa Barghouthi is a founder member of
alliance of Southern organisations opposing those the Union of Palestine Medical Relief Committ-
in the North, but instead to aim for the establish- ees, a voluntary movement with a membership
ment of a trans-geographical coalition of people of over 1,000 health professionals in the West
who believe in social justice, equity, and demo- Bank and Gaza Strip. At the time of writing he
cracy, in order to influence the process. Secondly, was the first president of the International
Southern organisations should determine priorities, People's Health Council, founded in 1991. This
rather than organisations from outside, and funders article first appeared in Development in
should be required to provide long-term commit- Practice, Volume 3, Number 3, in 1993.
ments. Thirdly, development should aim to be a
democratic process, and it should be true, sustainable
72

Collaboration with the South:


agents of aid or solidarity?

Firoze Manji

Like other donor countries, the United Kingdom would eventually fill a void created by a
has been channelling a significant proportion of retrenching State;
its development aid through non-government would be susceptible to manipulation by donor
organisations (NGOs). In a review of the effect- agencies, and more susceptible to political
iveness of this form of aid, several studies have influence.
been commissioned by the UK Overseas Devel-
opment Administration (ODA), the latest of In addition, they argue, there would be a loss of
which focused on exploring UK development the 'neutrality' provided by BINGOs; and it
NGOs' attitudes to increasing the proportion of would be cheaper to fund projects in the South
aid channelled by the ODA directly to Southern via BINGOs.
NGOs (Bebbington and Riddell, 1995). Based What is striking about this list of reasons
on a questionnaire survey, this study provides an against direct funding of Southern NGOs is that,
intriguing insight into the British NGO were logic to prevail, most Northern NGOs
(BINGO) psyche. It suggests that, despite years would not qualify either to receive funds from
of interactions with the Third World, there ODA. Are these features really the exclusive
remains a considerable deficit of respect and property of Southern NGOs? To what extent are
trust for their counterparts in the South. they shared by their Northern counterparts?
In my experience, very few NGOs either in
According to the survey, most (80 per cent) of
the North or the South can with all honesty
BINGOs are opposed to aid being channelled
claim always to monitor, manage, and evaluate
directly to Southern NGOs, for a number of
their projects adequately. Poor management has
reasons. They allege that Southern NGOs
been the bane of many projects, something that
lack the experience to undertake rigorous is increasingly recognised, if attendance rates at
monitoring and evaluation of projects; project-management training courses are any-
lack experience of how to manage projects in thing to go by. Most experienced development
accordance with donors' requirements; NGOs would probably agree that monitoring
with direct funding, would shift their account- and evaluation could be improved, and even
ability away from their own constituencies long-established BINGOs are often criticised
towards donor agencies; for not managing their projects in accordance
would become more directly influenced by with the donors' requirements.
donor agencies in setting their agenda, and What about accountability? Most BINGOs
hence more 'donor-driven'; are non-membership organisations. As such,
would eventually respond to the availability of they are rarely accountable to anyone other than
money rather than the meeting of needs; a self-appointed Board. In most cases, even
Collaboration with the South 73

those who contribute regularly to the organisa- feel that need tends to be a neglected parameter
tion have no rights to determine its policy or to for determining priorities. Where is the justifica-
elect its Trustees. In almost every case, their tion for the claim that BINGOs are any more
constituency understood to mean either those likely than Southern NGOs to respond to needs
who benefit from the projects, or the Southern rather than chasing after money?
NGOs has no rights to determine a BINGO's As for filling the void of a retrenching State,
policy or practice. So how accountable are they? one needs only look at the British indigenous
Certainly, they are required to be accountable NGO scene over the last decade. As successive
'upwards' to their donors, an accountability for governments have clawed back social expend-
which there are both structural mechanisms and iture, numerous charities have ardently rushed to
rights embodied in the grant documents (if not in fill the vacuum. Is there any evidence that South-
law). But such mechanisms are seldom accorded ern NGOs are any more prone to this tendency
to their Southern partners (or their beneficiar- than their British counterparts?
ies). Would it not be fair to say that, for most Claims that British NGOs are somehow more
BINGOs, accountability has long ago shifted 'neutral' than Southern ones are hard to take
away from their constituencies towards the seriously, and suggest a depth of paternalism
donor agencies? Have BINGOs not been inter- that is surprising to find so late in the twentieth
ested in establishing structural mechanisms that century. Like their missionary precursors 100
would increase, over time, the degree to which years ago, British NGOs have for years played,
they became accountable to their Southern and continue to play, a less than neutral role with
counterparts? How many BINGOs have, for respect to the interests of British foreign policy,
example, representatives of their Southern of which overseas aid is not an insignificant part.
counterpart organisations on their Board of BINGOs have their own biases and prejudices,
Trustees? That this is more the exception than as this survey clearly demonstrates. Just because
the rule speaks volumes about their concern for these prejudices are so widely held does not
ensuring their own 'downward' accountability. mean that they should be taken to represent a
Can BINGOs really claim to be immune from form of neutrality. If BINGOs tend to be neutral,
the influence of donor agencies? Are they not it may frequently be in relation to the less than
guilty not only of being driven by these but also, benign role of British imperial policies.
in turn, of setting and influencing the agenda of The arguments advanced by British NGOs
their Southern counterparts with whom, let us against direct funding hide a more profound dis-
be clear, they have a donor-recipient relation- comfort. I believe that this may be an expression
ship? Looking at the projects and programmes in of the primordial fear among some BINGOs that
which BINGOs have been involved over the last if donor agencies start funding Southern organi-
three decades, it is clear that the focus of their sations directly, then their own future is at risk. It
activity shifts with the trends and fancies of the is the cri du coeur of the dinosaur facing potential
donors, to the extent that project proposals and extinction. It is tempting to draw the conclusion
reports mimic the latest jargon ('sustainable that the raison d'etre for development may no
development', 'civil society' and so on) on longer be to build sustainable development and
which ODA has decided to focus. When donor institutions in the South, but rather to keep the home
agencies hold the money, is it surprising that team going. Direct funding of Southern NGOs
NGOs are prone to being driven by their agenda? represents a direct threat to the survival of Northern
Do BINGOs always respond to need, rather NGOs in their present form. What we need is a
than to the source of potential funding? Looking discussion about the future role of Northern NGOs
at the proportion of ODA's funds which have in an era where Southern NGOs are fully able
moved from the poorest parts of the world at least to the same degree as BINGOs to manage
towards Eastern Europe and the former Soviet funds provided directly to them by donors.
Union, a shift equally reflected in the funding Are there not also good reasons to question
profiles of many NGOs, many observers might the commitment, capacity, and willingness of
74 Development and Patronage

British NGOs to 'build capacity' in the South? ment paradigm that results in more wealth flow-
The results of this survey suggest that, after more ing from the South to the North than the other
than 50 years of 'development', British NGOs way around (aid budgets notwithstanding) to
feel that they have signally failed to build viable, say nothing of the support and arms provided to
independent, sustainable Southern institutions despots one would have thought that a
which are capable of managing donor agencies' healthy scepticism about UK foreign policy and
attempts to manipulate them, can run pro- development aid would be the norm. Perhaps
grammes effectively, and carry out rigorous BINGOs should be looking at how they them-
monitoring and evaluation. If this is so, what selves might be being used and manipulated by
exactly has been the purpose of their activities donor funds, just as they so perspicaciously
over the last few decades? Are we to assume that highlight therisksfaced by Southern NGOs.
pronouncing a commitment to 'sustainable What we need today is a greater reflection by
development' and institutional capacity-build- Northern NGOs on the nature of their relation-
ing is just public relations for the benefit of the ship with their Southern counterparts. If we are
'punter' whose contributions are being sought? seriously committed to the struggle to eliminate
But this raises a serious issue: is it feasible for poverty and injustice and their causes, we need
an organisation to be effective in institutional to assess the degree to which the nature of that
capacity-building if, at the same time, its relationship may be hampering rather than
relationship with its Southern counterpart is enhancing our common goals; to examine how
mediated through money? From the perspective to build alliances with Southern NGOs that are
of most Southern NGOs, there may be, in effect, based on solidarity, not charity; and to look at
little difference between dealing with ODA and whether we are being used, albeit unconscious-
dealing with a Northern NGO, since in both ly, by aid agencies to achieve ends that subvert
cases the relationship is one of donor-recipient. rather than promote those values we hold dear.
No matter how sympathetic the donor may be, We need to question whether the overall effect
nor how good the personal relations between of British aid has indeed led to improving the
them, the fact that the Northern NGO is the one conditions of the poor in the South, and, if not,
with the money means that the Southern NGO after all these years of trying, to ask why. We
must be the one with the begging bowl. Perforce, must explore ways for us to be as accountable to
there is a relationship of unequals. And inequal- our Southern partners as we expect them to be to
ity never built capacity. It nurtures dependence. us. And we need to break away from the tradition
It establishes the material basis for dancing to of paternalism which has been so lucidly
the tune of the donor. revealed in the recent study. To do otherwise is
My purpose here is not to argue the case for or toriskbecoming the agents of aid.
against direct funding of Southern NGOs by
ODA. But I am deeply uneasy about the under-
References
lying motives of BINGOs that lead them to
oppose such funding. Perhaps even more dis- Bebbington, A and R. Riddell (1995),Donors,
turbing is the lack of critical assessment of ODA Civil Society and Southern NGOs: New
policies, especially in assessing the extent to Agendas, Old Problems, London: IIED/ODA.
which BINGOs are themselves being used by
the British State in the same way that they fear
The author
Southern NGOs might be used if the money
were channelled to them directly. After more Firoze Manji has been Director of Amnesty
than 500 years at the receiving end of British International's Africa Programme and Chief
goodwill in Africa and elsewhere in the South, a Executive Officer of the Aga Khan Foundation
period characterised by pillage, slavery, geno- (UK). This articlefirstappeared in Development
cide, colonisation, and more recently a develop- in Practice Volume 7, Number 3, in 1997.
75

Partners and beneficiaries:


questioning donors

Richard Moseley-Williams

Introduction contribution of donors such as Oxfam should be


in the more imaginative use of their 'compara-
How, and through whom, should Northern
tive advantages', among which are (relatively)
development-funding NGOs like Oxfam (UK
large and (relatively) untied grants budgets; in
and Ireland) direct their funds and seek to
many cases radical, non-partisan traditions, and
achieve their goals in the South? The first part of
the power to resist the blandishments of public
this article1 discusses the intermediaries
opinion and the pressure of vested interests; and,
between donor and beneficiary: the Southern
for the larger, longer-established donors, the
NGOs and other groups and institutions we
accumulated experience of decades of develop-
tend to call them partners or, with fewer connot-
ment work in non-industrialised countries.
ations of cohabitation, counterparts who are
the recipients of grants and who carry respons- Northern funding for NGO partners is much
ibility for delivering the project to the intended affected by the way in which Southern NGOs
population. The assertion is that in the pursuit of vary, according to their many different national
their strategic objectives, donors like Oxfam contexts and histories. In Latin America, some
will increasingly look more widely for inter- factors which influenced the growth of
mediaries, including and beyond the Southern European-style NGOs were the early history of
NGOs of the 1980s; and that clearer criteria are European colonisation, followed by over a
needed to help to decide who are and who are century and a half of independence. In Southern
not the right holders of grants for develop- Africa, most national NGOs were created more
ment projects. At the same time, as the role of recently: in many cases as counterparts of North-
Southern NGOs has changed, so has the North- ern NGOs whose constitutions they adapted; in
ern donor context; and agencies like Oxfam now others, as structures born in struggle for indep-
have to reconcile pressures and priorities in endence and majority rule. Like the newly
which Southern partners' interests figure less independent republics, it is only now that many
prominently than before. African NGOs are in the process of redefining
their social and political role. The African exper-
Why do we need intermediaries? The inten- ience has more to do with anti-colonialism, anti-
tion of the second part of this article is to prove racism, and nation-building, whereas Latin
the value of partners but also to challenge American NGOs were influenced more by class,
donors to demonstrate that they are adding as anti-militarism, and anti-US feeling. In both
much value as possible to the relationship regions, however, many of today's NGOs grew
between donor, intermediary, and beneficiary. up in the decades after the 1960s, representing
The suggested conclusion is that the principal civil society excluded from representation in the
76 Development and Patronage

State and in the socio-economic structures the sake of argument) an unrecognised circle of
which dominated the political process. The traditional healers or general practitioners
relatively strong NGO movements which rather than the local elite of trained medical
emerged are generally quite different from what professionals recognised by the official health
came out of one-party statist post-colonial service then Oxfam might well have a legal
societies in West and Central/East Africa; and obligation under its UK charitable status to try to
different again from the expressions of civil support the former, no matter how much better
society in the strife-torn countries of the Horn. would be the reporting from the latter.
The same applies to partnership with struc-
tures within the State. State ministries or local
Varieties of NGOs and other government structures appear on Oxfam grants
potential intermediaries lists as partners. Yet one detects some reluctance
to confess the relationship, as if something
There is an enormous number and variety of shameful or incompatible was involved. This
philanthropic non-government groups in most embarrassment may be felt on both sides. High-
of the countries where Northern funders deliver level civil servants and their political masters
their assistance. In England and Wales alone, may see NGOs as threatening, unprofessional,
there are no fewer than 170,000 registered and irrelevant; NGOs may think of civil servants
charities. If Brazil or South Africa or Argentina and politicians as overpaid parasites and rule-
or Nigeria had laws which gave the concessions bound time-servers of the status quo. The truth is
and status allowed under UK charity law, they that there is variety in the State as there is among
would probably have proportionately as many the NGOs. With the withering away of the total-
registered organisations. Mexico is said to have itarian State, greater political pluralism in many
30,000 non-profit-making asociaciones civiles. formerly hard-line regimes, and increasing
In India, the number of non-profit organisations abandonment by governments of their mono-
is enormous. Smaller states like Bolivia or Haiti poly of welfare provision,the opportunities have
or Zambia or Senegal also have registered NGOs increased for donors to use their influence and
of many kinds. And, in all countries, vast funding levers effectively to work with more
numbers of social groupings exist besides those progressive groups within civil services. This
recognised by the law. Of course they do; here can be done cautiously and strategically, so there
we see the innumerable family, community, need be no compromise of cherished NGO
interest, and religious structures which give principles and the social basis of support.
society its form and variety. So, while they may
have strategic significance beyond their
numbers, the partners of donor NGOs can be
only a tiny and selected part of a wider 'civil The choice of intermediary
society'. This fact immediately puts into per-
Having established the wide range of potential
spective the potential of Southern NGOs to
intermediaries or partners, the question is: how
effect wider social and political change.
are they chosen by the funding agencies? The
Many non-formal groups are or could be our official answer will be that, strictly speaking, the
partners. There is, for instance, no obligation on intermediary is selected as the group most likely
Oxfam to channel funds through legally constit- to deliver the project. In practice, partners are
uted bodies, provided that accountability is approached because of this but also because
assured (and Oxfam's experience suggests that they broadly mirror the funder's development
there is no close correlation between legal status philosophy.2 Donor agencies with religious
and good reporting). If Oxfam had as its object motives will seek out partners through networks
the improvement of the health of poor people in like the World Council of Churches, CIDSE, and
a hypothetical village or city slum, and this was the Islamic groups; political organisations will
best pursued by channelling a grant through (for operate through ideological connections such as
Partners and beneficiaries 77

those linked to German Christian Democrat loosely and without qualification (sustainable
funding, US AID, or the former Soviet sphere of development?), can be used to justify little change
influence. Like other donors, Oxfam tends to to the status quo. You can be sustained in
gravitate towards those which are closest to its wretched poverty, ignorance, and oppression,
policies and style. like some medieval serf. Subsistence agriculture
What are the criteria for choice? For Oxfam is 'sustainable', but is it developmental? One
and like-minded agencies, the three main ones suspects that the poor would understand 'sustain-
are the following: ability' as the language of the haves rather than
effective, accountable option for the poor and the have nots.
social base among the poor;
commitment to empowerment; and
Work styles reflecting professed
styles of working which reflect professed
commitment. commitment
There is no doubt that donors' choice of partner
(and partners' choice of donor) is influenced by
Option for the poor and social base
attitudes and organisational procedures with
among the poor which we feel comfortable. Top-down, high-
This criterion means that the intermediary must salary, masculine, nine-to-five, vehicle-heavy
have a proven commitment to the cause of the organisations fare less well in grant recom-
poor and to effective delivery of projects to mendations from field staff than groups which
them; there must be ways in which the partner are more democratic, hard-working, tightly
can be called to account by the intended bene- budgeted, and take the bus. There is of course a
ficiaries; and there must be evidence of a basis of large measure of hypocrisy often present here.
grassroots support for the intervention con- But above and beyond the double standards is a
cerned. In the moral and practical sense, the legitimate point about styles of work appropriate
project holder whether this is a tiny commun- to those in donor agencies as well as in partner
ity group or a large government department organisations who engage with the poor in the
must be 'on the side' of the poor. fight against poverty and injustice. It is
legitimate for donors to ask these questions of
partners though we must be prepared to have
Commitment to empowerment
the same questions asked of ourselves.
The idea of basing development on a process of
acquiring power has led to the creation of a
specialised lexicon (self-help; self-sufficiency; A potential danger
conscientisation; participation; and today's
developmental^ correct word, sustainability). The above arguments are not to deny the import-
None of these is as useful in encapsulating what ance of long-term relationships between donors
we mean as Oxfam's twenty-year old 'mission and counterparts or partners, but only to point
statement' ('Oxfam: An Interpretation') where out that donors are increasingly playing a more
development was defined as 'to have and to be active andflexiblerole in addition to maintain-
more'. 'Being more' captures the notion of ing these relationships, where they work
social power acquired (not power given over or effectively.
handed down by others), as well as a psycho- What has also changed is the philosophy
logical element of self-respect and confidence. which regarded the growth of national NGOs as
Whatever word we use, we must allow for this 'a good thing' because it was to do with the
'having and being more'. We must ask questions emergence of popular movements representing
of 'sustainability': an ugly word which correctly the poor. Experience has shown that, while some
captures the importance to development of self- NGOs emerged and managed to remain as
sufficiency and continuity, but which, used expressions of the poor at times of rapid change,
78 Development and Patronage

many others lined up more with the dominant the needs of the poor world, beyond a general
classes. The phenomenon of NGOs becoming recognition of the need to provide relief aid. This
capital-city havens of sheltered employment for pressure is also important for funding NGOs in
bureaucrats retrenched by political change or the North, both in making the public more aware
structural adjustment is widely and rightly of Southern issues and in agencies' internal
criticised in Africa, Latin America, and else- debates about priorities.
where. In some critical situations, NGOs have We must therefore recognise the significance
paid better salaries, often in hard currency, and of key Southern NGOs; and we should guard
so attracted scarce and greatly needed skills against playing into the hands of the enemies of
away from weakened public services. development who would be delighted to see
Having said this, there is the danger of giving Northern donors undermine their counterparts in
Southern development NGOs a uniformly bad the South. But we need to distinguish between
press. The fact is that countries have different NGOs; and avoid the catch-all notion of an NGO
experiences. One hears some NGOs criticised in 'movement', such as was understood in the
Peru or Uganda or Mozambique; whereas in El 1980s. In the same vein, we must be careful not
Salvador or Brazil or Zimbabwe some are, or to accept uncritically generalisations such as the
have been, important development actors. Nor alleged link between NGOs and the strength of
must one forget that most of the most successful 'civil society'. Again, the issue is what the NGO
and meaningful project work and issue work stands for and there is an enormous variety.
which Oxfam and other funders have supported
has been in partnership with, and largely
dependent on, courageous and visionary South-
'Going operational'
ern NGOs. These are not alone in struggling to
come to terms with the development crisis of the Critics will rightly point to the thin line that
1990s. The process of marginalisation and exists between a more active development-
impoverishment of a large part of the population support role by donors, and the assumption of
of the planet is one in which we are all involved. operational or management responsibility for
Northern donors must also face up to new projects, by-passing partners' structures. Here
challenges and our Southern counterparts again, there has been a change in what used to be
probably perform no better and no worse than an article of faith. A decade ago 'self-help and
we do. non-interference' philosophies subscribed to by
However, Southern NGO contributions to Oxfam and others renounced a 'hands-on'
South-North coalition-building, to regional approach by field staff. The aim was to accom-
initiatives in the ACP world, and to Southern pany the project holder, providing support but
contributions to the development debate, are guarding against interfering or imposing,
sadly unrecognised. It is as if the South is seen as wittingly or unwittingly, our dubious Northern
a passive recipient of micro-projects, while values. This line of thinking sounds today a little
policy debates and lobbying efforts are patronising and old-fashioned. We are now
concentrated in the North. The argument for more pragmatic and tend to allow relationships
Northern lobbying is that this reflects where the with partners to find their own levels.
important decisions have come to lie, especially Do we need partners at all? We donors do,
after the Cold War. This is aflawedanalysis, not most emphatically. There is no more effective
only because Southerners do not want or need way in which we could deliver our aid and keep
Northerners to decide things for them. It also faith with our empowerment brief. Our partners
neglects the key question: Where is political are on the whole better than we at identifying
power in the arena of global poverty generated? need, obtaining the support of the beneficiary
The answer, of course, is in the South. Without community, designing project proposals,
Southern pressure, Northern governments and managing and evaluating projects, and engaging
opposition parties would pay little attention to in development debate. Where there is no
Partners and beneficiaries 79

partner, our instinct is to create an intermediary for incorporating a 'partner voice'. Several
to take over the project. country and regional offices set up consultative
The question whether we need development committees of 'friends of Oxfam', or regular
partners would have been thought absurd in meetings of partners. These structures were
Oxfam until a few years ago. Today, however, mostly advisory, and it was only in India that the
there are forces pushing in the direction of process went to the point where devolution of
greater operationality and these may become power what Oxfam calls 'transfer of Trustee
stronger in the future. They come from various responsibility' was considered in detail.
places: from fundraising needs, where it is easier Beyond the debates about the mechanisms for
to appeal for public support for 'Oxfam projects' involving partners, there was an almost
which can be suitably dressed up without universal commitment to putting their interests
upsetting partners' sensitivities; from increasing first. The country and regional office teams
stress within agencies on planning, objective- which rejected formal consultation with partners
setting, and performance-measurement, which as did the Latin America and Caribbean
partners facing rapid change will find difficulty offices passionately believed in sharing with
in accommodating; from the relative success in partners and argued that what mattered more
income terms of the 'operational' agencies like than formalities was the commitment of the
ActionAid and World Vision; from the ODA, Representative and her/his team. All agreed on
the European Union, and other government the fundamental point: 'engagement' with the
donors who would be happy to channel more social issues of the time and sympathy with the
funds through us Northern NGOs, especially in development philosophy of counterparts was the
Africa, if we ran more of our own development key. It became a major factor in Oxfam's recruit-
projects; and, within developing countries, from ment of programme staff. Country policies were
those who think local NGOs have failed and that strongly influenced by certain key national
large international agencies can 'do' develop- NGOs whose work pushed back the frontiers of
ment better. Conspiracy theorists may detect a development analysis and practice, often taking
political thrust here, which those who believe in great risks in the process. In the Oxford head-
empowering development will wish to resist. quarters, the Desks, the Overseas Directorate,
This is not to say that there is any significant and the specialist Trustee Committees shared
trend among donors towards managing their and supported this philosophical framework.
own projects, although this may come in the Elsewhere in Oxfam the growth of campaigning
future. The heavy management and resource in the UK which was developed by a former
costs of operational development work are a Representative in Brazil was very much
potent deterrent. The point is that today donors designed to provide Northern support for South-
are expecting to exert more influence over the ern partners. In short, Oxfam took its develop-
management of the projects which they fund, ment agenda from its partners. Where this
and that this is altering the older donor/partner agenda had to be negotiated to accommodate the
relationship. constraints and needs which Oxfam faced in the
UK context, in compliance with charity law and
to meet the requirements of fund-raising from a
British public generally ignorant of partner
Partner-centred development philosophies, the practice was to defend the
philosophy: the case of Oxfam overseas programme to the last gasp.
The Northern context has also radically Today the picture is different and more
changed, as can be seen in the case of Oxfam. In complicated. Far more important than before are
the 1970s and 1980s, Oxfam developed its Oxfam's institutional interests in fund-raising,
priorities and work styles largely with reference in maintaining a high media profile in the eyes of
to partners. In the mid-1980s, the field offices the British public relative to other agencies, and
were even asked to debate formal mechanisms in acquiring influence with national and
80 Development and Patronage

international political elites. These interests are to strategic thinking and change may further
no longer secondary to programme work as discourage flexibility and quick response.
previously defined; instead they are co-equal
Traditions of disinterested, non-aligned,
priorities to be placed uneasily alongside the
bottom-up development. Not many donors come
mandates which come from partners and
with as little ideological baggage as Oxfam
beneficiaries in the South. The primacy of 'the
carries. This gives scope for support of groups
overseas programme' is being replaced by a
which others might shy away from, as well as
search for a nebulous 'one programme', in
credibility with decision takers and opinion
which older and newer interests have to be
formers.
reconciled. The debate in Oxfam today concerns
how this reconciliation is to take place, and who Risk-taking. This may be a surprising assert-
is to decide its terms. This rapidly becomes a ion, but the fact is that partners battling away on
philosophical debate about development values, the front lines of development have much less
and the accountability and mandate of Oxfam, scope to take risks than does a prestigious inter-
which is beyond the scope of this article. One national institution like Oxfam. Are we being as
might only observe that it may be a measure of bold as we can and should be, in development
the wider crisis in development thinking and work in the South as well as in advocacy in the
practice referred to above that Oxfam and it is North? How do we evaluate this?
not alone in this has yet to address these issues
adequately, despite a recent large-scale strategic World-wide experience and contacts. The
planning exercise within the Overseas Division. potential for supporting partners by providing
information and exchange opportunities in the
overseas programmes of the larger donors is
considerable. This learning from experience
What value do we donors add? (called in Oxfam 'institutional learning') and
networking potential is almost completely
A question not often addressed in debates about unrealised in Oxfam, and probably to varying
the donor/partner/beneficiary relationship is extents in most of the other major donors. The
what value the first adds, apart from granting problem is recognised, but, despite efforts, little
funds? What can Oxfam and the others do better progress has been made in finding solutions.
than our partners? The challenge should make us
think before we make rash claims about donors Advocacy and communication. More and
being 'good at' (for example) low-level com- more donors accept a responsibility to use their
munity work. What an agency like Oxfam can individual and collective influence to support
add to the relationship probably includes: partners with contributions to public-policy
debate, speaking on their behalf and arguing for
Untied funds which can be applied flexibly changes in international (and sometimes intra-
and rapidly. Few financial institutions in the national) relationships. This is an area where
public and private sectors, however large they significant 'donor value' may be added. At the
are, have as much scope with the use of their same time, there must be questions about where
budgets. Government and bilateral donors the agenda of current lobbying comes from, and
approve and pay grants extremely slowly, how itfitswith programme work. This is contro-
compared with many NGOs. Donor NGO grant versial. One view is that lobbying or advocacy is
budgets are perhaps not always used as effect- an important and logical extension of the
ively as possible. Possibly donors err on the side prescriptions of the micro-projects supported in
of renewing grants to the same projects year development programmes. Another is that
after year, rather than constantly and imagin- Northern lobbying has become disconnected
atively reviewing the best use of their funds. from specific Southern political and develop-
Greater priority currently attached by many ment positions and is now governed by a gener-
donors to planning and continuity rather than alists', Northern-based development agenda.
Partners and beneficiaries 81

There are other stake-holders in this debate. in the common cause. We must thus guard
Among these are the fund-raisers and their against pressures in the North which would
interest in raising the agency's public profile. divert us from our central, historical mission
There is a quid pro quo offered between lobbyist which lines us up shoulder to shoulder with the
and fund-raiser: the former raises the profile of poor in their (and dare one still say our?) struggle
the organisation, while the latter uses the high against injustice and poverty.
profile to raise the funds. This is a new alliance
being formed in the Northern donor world, and it
will be important to evaluate the reaction of the
other groups interested in the lobbying agenda,
Notes
particularly the development programme staff 1 An earlier version of this paper was written as
(on the one hand) and (on the other) the emerg- a contribution to the strategic planning debate
ency departments (who have traditionally been within Oxfam (UK and Ireland). All references
the agency profile-raisers). Donors are wrestling to Oxfam are to Oxfam UK and Ireland. The
with the problem of shifting alliances and views expressed are the author's own and are not
competition between development, emergency, necessarily those of Oxfam UK/I.
fund-raising, and public relations/advocacy 2 It must be emphasised that this discussion
interests. The danger is that, in this internal concerns development work, not short-term
debate, the views of partners and beneficiaries emergency relief. The points that will be made
are not given enough prominence. about empowerment and accountability to the
beneficiaries may not be as directly relevant
(although they will be indirectly relevant) where
the issue is the provision of rapidly delivered aid
Conclusion
to save lives.
In the 1990s, Northern development NGO
donors are moving away from some of the
assumptions of development practice in the last
The author
two decades. This has led to questioning of
relationships with Southern NGOs and to re- Richard Moseley-Williams is the Regional
examination of the comparative advantages and Coordinator for Latin America and the Carib-
distinctive contributions of different donors. bean at ACTIONAID. Previously, he worked at
However, in this necessary process of review, Oxfam (UK/I) for 15 years as Coordinator of the
the challenge is to carry through our mandate, Latin America and Caribbean programme and,
which remains to seek change which will from 1991 to 1993, as Regional Manager for
eliminate poverty and poverty-related injustice. South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Namibia. This
We need to criticise generalisations and out- article first appeared in Development in Practice
moded assumptions, and develop criteria which Volume 4, Number 1, in 1994.
will help us and our partners to be more effective
82

NGOs and social change:


agents or facilitators?

Jenny Pearce

Introduction The relationship ofNGOs and the community,


and NGOs and the State: is the emphasis on
The opportunity for NGOs to move from 'a
the need to 'scale up' and seek wider influence
doing to an influencing role' (to quote from John
premature, where NGOs have not worked out
Clark's recent book Democratising Develop-
their relationship with their local constitu-
ment1) originates partly from the 'push' of
encies and 'beneficiaries'?
voluntary agencies themselves, many of which
have proved more effective in poverty allevia-
tion and development than their official counter-
parts. And partly it originates from the 'pull' of What are NGOs?
the 'official' development world, which has
begun to recognise the competence of NGOs and Many definitions encompass such a range of
offer them real space and resources. This has led organisations that 'NGO' ceases to be a useful
many to see ever-increasing potential in NGOs category with which to work. John Clark is not
as agents, rather than facilitators of develop- alone in using 'NGO' as a catch-all term for a
ment. The need to 'scale up' has been identified variety of different non-State organisations.
as a way for NGOs to move from a purely local Definitions usually range from popular organi-
impact to national influence via networking, sations to intermediary development organisa-
coordinating, advocacy, and developing a tions, whether indigenous or externally-funded,
strategic way of thinking. specialist or general, and international organ-
isations, such as Oxfam. It is the inclusion of
Many of these issues arise from recent
grassroots or popular organisations within this
articles in Development in Practice by Michael
general category which troubles me and which is
Edwards and David Hulme2 and John Clark3
partly responsible for the shift in perception of
himself. I wish here to concentrate on:
the role of NGOs from facilitators to agents of
The definition of NGOs: are grassroots or change. Among the fundamental differences
popular organisations usefully put into the between popular organisations and NGOs, I
same category as intermediary institutions? would emphasise the following:
The appropriate role of NGOs: can we 1 Social composition: Popular organisations
universally assume that by virtue of being consist of people with specific identities and
outside the State, NGOs represent a force for interests, dependent on their class, gender, ethnic
democratising development? origin, or cultural background, who have come
together out of their own need for collective
NGOs and social change 83

representation and organisation. Intermediary The failure to make these distinctions contrib-
NGOs are typically composed of middle-class utes to a tendency to depoliticise popular
people who have opted, for political or organisations and politicise development
humanitarian reasons, to work with (or on behalf NGOs.
of) the poor and marginalised. In practice, of course, the World Bank and
other international agencies do acknowledge the
2 Organisations versus institutions: Popular
distinction. When recognising the role of NGOs,
organisations are not institutions, but dynamic
they are not envisaging peasants organising to
organisations which represent specific social
defend their land rights or workers organising
interests. They may be externally funded,
for better pay and conditions. They have in mind
though the impact of this has often been divisive
the voluntary organisations who may be able to
and corrupting. Thus many international NGOs
deliver services more efficiently than the State.
prefer to use and often themselves create
intermediary bodies to work with popular They equate NGOs with a regenerated private
organisations. Such bodies are institutions, with sector; their importance lies in simply being
relatively formal, permanent structures which outside the State, which is held to be responsible
aim to survive not on the basis of the interests of for the development failings of the last two
a particular social constituency, but on that of decades.4
their perceived efficiency and effectiveness, at
least in the eyes of their external funders.
What is the appropriate role of
3 The significance of intermediary NGOs: NGOs?
Intermediary NGOs (John Clark's category of
'popular development agencies'), although they A great many claims are currently being made
exist to facilitate links between 'beneficiaries' about NGOs, based on their supposed capacity
on the one hand and their funders on the other, to do the following:
are often, and paradoxically, accountable to their
'Democratise development.'
funders in a way they are not to their 'bene-
Reconstruct or construct 'civil society'.
ficiaries'. The latter do not elect members of
NGOs to represent them, and rarely have the Act as social mobilisers.
chance to choose between one NGO and Deliver services more efficiently than the
another. Nor do funding agencies, in my exper- State.
ience, consult with 'beneficiaries' when deci- Be more flexible, and show greater capacity
sions are made to fund intermediary NGOs. It is for innovations and closer identification with
all too easy, therefore, for local development the targeted sectors of aid.
NGOs to carry the agendas of Northern funders Contribute to strengthening the development
to their work, rather than represent the interests model offered by the private sector.
of the people they support. I am certainly not NGOs are seen as having such potential partly
implying that popular organisations are necess- because of the global shift in political and
arily accountable or internally democratic. But economic theories. Politically, there is the
their problems of accountability derive from collapse of the reforming and revolutionary-left
factors of a social and political, rather than project, with its emphasis on State power.
economic, nature. Economically, there is the rise of neo-liberal
economics, and its emphasis on the retreat of the
It is not helpful to use the term 'NGO' to State and development led by the private sector.
encompass popular organisations as well as Within this context, NGOs have become
those intermediary institutions established to something which everybody can love, but which
provide care, facilitate self-help and grass-roots mean very different things to everyone. The
democracy, to supply technical assistance, or to World Bank can see them as efficient non-State
campaign on issues of importance to the poor. channels in an era of anti-Statism. Progressive
84 Development and Patronage

international donors, on the other hand, can see The term 'civil society' crops up increasingly
them as a means of helping the poor and power- in contemporary development literature, partic-
less. In focusing on NGOs as if they had a com- ularly on Africa. However, unless we become
mon role and common characteristics, we may more rigorous, the term may mask, rather than
conceal the failure of many to measure up to the illuminate, a dynamic in the South which is just
ideal, and the dangers of 'scaling up' when account- as likely to produce greater inequalities, political
ability to their beneficiaries is so ambiguous. polarisation, and social exclusion as it is to be a
democratising force. For example, it is true that,
during the 1980s, popular mobilisations were
important in the transition from military to civil-
NGOs, empowerment,
ian rule in some parts of Latin America; or have
and civil society
forced elections in some African countries and
The crucial question here is: in what circum- challenged the one-party State. Clark writes:
stances, and how, do intermediary development
In much of Latin America throughout the
NGOs play a role in enhancing the ability of the
eighties the failure of left-wing political parties
poor both to meet their material needs and to ensure
to win power, resist repression or reflect the
that they have an impact on the structures of
day-to-day concerns of the majority of the poor
power around them ? In other words, how can we
created a political space for popular move-
establish criteria for evaluating the impact of
their work? And how do we return to seeing NGOs ments. Throughout the region ordinary people
as facilitators of development processes, at the saw their battles being fought not by opposition
grassroots, rather than as agents of change? parties but by popular movements ... While
initially reactive responding to situations
A facilitating role is central to the notion of
created by others the popular movements
'empowerment', which is surely about passing
have gone on to create the political agenda.5
power on to those who have none, not about
building up the power of those assisting in the However, the point about these 'social move-
process itself. However, there is a growing ments' was their spontaneous nature. Intermed-
tension in some parts of Latin America partic- iary NGOs may occasionally have played a
ularly Central America and Chile, where a great supporting role. But they were not responsible
deal of external funding was channelled through for the social mobilisation itself.
NGOs during politically sensitive periods 'Social movements' are characterised by their
between the increasing institutional capacity lack of permanence and their fragility: they are
and resources of the intermediary NGOs, and the often an eruption of protest, rather than the result
under-resourced popular organisations which of sustained organisational work. More signif-
they were set up to assist. The uneasy relation- icantly, in Latin America they have widely failed
ship between the two entails a real possibility of to survive the very transitions from authoritarian
rifts and disillusionment. rule to which they contributed. Chile is the
Undeniably, political change is taking place classic case, but not the only one. Here, the return
which will open up spaces for previously to civilian rule which was eventually nego-
excluded organisations in many Southern tiated by political elites has been accompanied
societies. Understandably, in countries where by the disempowerment of the social movements
there has been a history of repressive, interven- of the 1980s. The Chilean NGO world is split
tionist States, people look positively on the between those who opted to engage with the
emergence of non-government organisations centre-left government programme and so
within society. The increasing interest in the have succeeded in institutionalising themselves
concept of 'civil society' has itself contributed to in the new circumstances and those who
the view that the NGOs can both strengthen and remain critical of the failure of the government to
help to construct a sphere which will protect meet the needs of the poorest sectors. The latter
society from a return to the intrusive State. remain small, under-resourced, fragmented, and
NGOs and social change 85

politically marginalised. And, as the larger Some writers do acknowledge the need to be
NGOs have come closer to the national and more precise in defining 'civil society'. Hugh
formal 'political' world, their links with the Roberts, for example, argues that the discussion
social world have become very weak. should focus on enfranchisement and
The case of Chile illustrates that the 'social citizenship:
movements' of the 1980s emphasised the
... 'civil society' exists where society enjoys a
weakness of 'civil society', not its arrival on the
particular kind of regular (not occasional)
scene. People had taken to the streets, precisely
relationship to the State, founded upon the fact
because the appropriate channels for political
of enfranchisement in its substantive rather than
participation did not exist for them.
merely formal sense and thus upon the existence
of the effective status of citizens which its
The role of NGOs in 'civil society' members possess with all the rights vis a vis the
State which this status entails.6
There are two strands to the concept of' civil society'.
One lies within the European liberal political theory This raises many issues with respect to popular
and the challenge to the absolutist State in the organisations and intermediary development
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. As Western NGOs. In most of Latin America, for example,
Europe industrialised, so the concepts of the 'pri- the basic rights of citizenship exist in formal
vate' and the 'public' spheres began to emerge. The rather than substantive terms. The impunity of
former was that of male property holders who those responsible for the violations of human
asserted the rights of the individual to operate rights over the last decade demonstrates that
freely in the market place, without the intrusion even the rule of law does not apply to the
of the State. Sovereignty was to lie with these powerful. An authentic civil society must
individuals, who consented to the existence of the . involve the poor and the weak gaining real and
State, as long as it limited its role to areas defined meaningful rights as citizens, genuinely
by these individuals. Civil society, or 'civil govern- enfranchised and able to build organisations to
ment' in John Locke's terminology, referred to defend their interests. It is about the rights of
the development of a sphere outside the State. individuals to associate voluntarily. Construct-
For many Western governments and official ing civil society cannot be essentially about
aid agencies today, the retreat of the State as the building up intermediary development organisa-
agent of development gives rise to the need for a tions to represent the 'poor': it must be about
'private' sphere, both to ensure that the State is empowering the poor and enabling them to fight
accountable within a limited role, and to encourage for their own rights as citizens.
the private entrepreneur as a motor for develop- In many parts of the South, not only are there
ment. Thus, the resurgence of the concept of vast inequalities in social and economic
'civil society' reflects the resurgence of the neo- resources and power, and often dubious commit-
liberal economic paradigm. ment to real political enfranchisement (electoral
By contrast, Marxist thinking emphasises the fraud is rife in many countries), but there is no
inequality within civil society, since the State is commitment to the idea of the social rights of
seen to be a reflection of the rule of one class citizenship. Where the poor come together, they
over another. That the State can be a totalitarian are certainly concerned with their political
and repressive force is now widely recognised rights. But they are often anxious to ensure that
across the political spectrum. the State grants, and then protects, social rights.
The poor as well as the rich want to ensure However, the prevailing pattern is for the State
that the State is representative and accountable. to retreat. Structural adjustment programmes
But to abandon the analysis of inequalities with- have in many cases decimated State benefits to
in 'civil society', simply because we recognise the poor, such as food subsidies, which had
the role for an appropriate sphere of life outside previously existed. Neo-liberal policies will
the State, does not follow. undoubtedly exacerbate existing inequalities,
86 Development and Patronage

even if (and this remains to be proved) they bring about, at the expense of processes in which they
about sustainable economic growth. were involved. The high degree of gender-
Strengthening the ability of poor women and blindness, the hierarchical nature of decision-
men in the South tofightfor their full citizenship making within many NGOs, and the tendency to
rights is a priority, but will also generate institutionalise themselves rather than building
conflict. In Western Europe, for at least 200 up the capacity of the poor to run their own
years, 'civil society' consisted only of male affairs all point to the widespread neglect of the
property-holders. Conflicts emerged when the processes of change at the grassroots.
poor, and women, demanded political enfranch- This is not to say that political change has
isement and social rights. The same sectors of ceased to be important. It is as important as ever.
the South will make similar demands and My purpose is to draw attention to the fact that
indeed they will have to, if they are to enjoy the now, above all, we should give greater emphasis
fruits of development.7 to understanding the social processes which are
Intermediary development NGOs can act as so important to generating meaningful and
catalysts in helping and supporting poor and sustainable changes in people's lives. The most
marginalised people. However, they cannot sub- technical and assistential of development prog-
stitute for the poor themselves. Without mean- rammes has an impact on the social relations of
ingful accountability to their 'beneficiaries', the group concerned. But many NGOs seem
scaling them up could seriously distance them more concerned with an influencing role vis a vis
from the poor and their own social structures. the State, or with enhancing their technical
capacity and efficiency, than with examining
their own relationship and impact on the
NGOs and the community, communities with which they work.
and NGOs and the State Social processes are messy and difficult to
measure. An important task facing us now is to
The real challenge in development is less about identify criteria to determine why we support some
how to influence national events and inter- NGOs rather than others. Academics and practition-
national policy (though this is evidently ers could work together in drawing on the long field
important too), and more about building experience of intermediary development organisa-
sustainable social processes from below, to tions and analysing what underlies the success or
ensure genuine empowerment at the grassroots. failure of particular programmes. This will help
The objective of development 'from below' is to avoid the trap of 'NGO' becoming the latest dev-
surely that the poor and powerless identify their elopment buzzword, attracting funds to strengthen
own needs and interests, and gain a means to the institutional capacity of these organisations, with
shape policies affecting them. This does not no guarantee of their effectiveness at the social level.
mean that intermediary development NGOs do
not have their own role to play, or that people
who work within them do not have their own
interests tofightfor. It does mean that if they aim
Notes
genuinely to contribute to the process of social 1 John Clark: Democratising Development:
change at the grassroots, there must be evidence The Role of Voluntary Organisations, London:
that the men and women they work with are Earthscan, 1991.
increasingly able to effect changes in their own 2 Michael Edwards and David Hulme:
lives, by their own efforts. 'Scaling up NGO impact on development:
In my 20 years' experience in Latin America, learning from experience', Development in
such empowerment is by no means a given. Practice, Vol. 2, No. 2: 77-91,1992.
Precisely because many NGOs emerged at a 3 John Clark: 'Democratising development:
time when structural political change was on the NGOs and the State', Development in Practice,
agenda, many focused on how they could bring it Vol. 2, No. 3: 151-62,1992.
NGOs and social change 87

4 Hugh Roberts, in an Editorial in the IDS T. H. Marshall's classic study of citizenship


Bulletin, Vol. 18, No. 41 (1987), argues that (Citizenship and Social Class and Other Essays,
while the emergence of new private-sector Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1950)
groups as the State retreats may be the only way examines the relationship between citizenship
of sustaining a more balanced and equitable and social class in Britain. He identifies three
development in tropical Africa, it might also stages in the development of citizenship rights:
merely allow new elite farmer groups to emerge, the civil element was about individualrightsand
able to extract regionally, ethnically, and emerged with the rise of the market economy;
socially specific concessions from the State to the political part of citizenship concerns the right
the detriment of other classes and groups with to participate in the exercise of political power;
less muscle. It is therefore necessary to disting- and the social element of citizenship is the right
uish a State which is weak in relation to an to the prevailing standard of living. Marshall
increasingly developed civil society of self- believed that the Welfare State had been able to
sustaining voluntary associations which can alleviate the worst aspects of the social inequalities
make it accountable to them, and a State which is which remain in democratic capitalist societies.
weak because it is open to the influences of tradi-
tional patron-client networks and ethnic solidar-
ities. A State could also be weak vis a vis a The author
vibrant civil society, but more able to fulfil its
functions to look after the general interest, and Jenny Pearce is currently a Lecturer in the
more capable in that sense. Department of Peace Studies at the University of
5 John Clark, 1991, op. cit. Bradford. Previously she was Director of Latin
6 Hugh Roberts, 1987, op. cit., p. 4. America Bureau, and is the author of several
7 This is where we come to the essential problems books on development and politics in the region.
of the democracy debate in the South. The For many years she has been closely connected
problem of representative democracy as it has with major UK NGOs, including Oxfam and
emerged in the advanced capitalist countries is Christian Aid. This article was first published in
that it combines equality of political rights with Development in Practice Volume 3, Number 3,
considerable social and economic inequality. in 1993.
O n being evaluated: tensions and hopes

Movimento de Organizagao Comunitaria

The Movimento de Organizagao Comunitaria specific and detailed objectives, to involve or be


(MOC) (Movement for Community Organ- co-ordinated by outsiders. This was what Oxfam
isation) is a multi-disciplinary advisory centre proposed. How did we feel about it?
for community organisations in the Feira de The first question was whether we could real-
Santana region of north-east Brazil. It has istically say 'No' to the proposal. After all, we
worked for over 25 years in educational and were dealing with our funders. In the end, we felt
social organisation, in areas including agricul- we could not very well refuse. At least, it would
ture, appropriate technology, health care, not have been polite to do so.
women's organisation, small-scale economic Another issue worried us: who would carry
projects, trades unions, and cultural expression. out the evaluation? What would their connec-
Oxfam (UK and Ireland) began funding tions be? What ideological positions would they
MOC's work in 1972, and by 1988 was meeting represent? And who would see the final report?
approximately 7 per cent of its total budget. In MOC has links with many local organisations
1990/91 Oxfam commissioned a Brazilian insti- and funding agencies. Each donor agency tends
tution the Joaquim Nabuco Foundation to to earmark its support for a defined area of our
conduct an evaluation, comprising extensive work, and so has very specific expectations of
interviews with MOC staff and a limited amount us. The possible repercussions arising from the
of field-based research in the communities evaluation were a real worry for us. This has a lot
within which MOC was operating. to do with how the funding agencies behave and
Oxfam continued to fund MOC's work after pool information among themselves. For
the conclusion of the evaluation, but, following example, some were asking us to share the report
shifts in its own funding priorities, does not plan with them, even before the information-
further support beyond its current commitment. gathering phase had been completed.
This article (translated by the Editor from Another issue was that, since we were being
Portuguese) was written by MOC to convey evaluated, our own competence was implicitly
what it felt like to be the object of an evaluation. on the line. To an extent, the survival of the
organisation was in the balance. But who is to
say what competence means in the context of
The evaluation proposal social organisation? Oxfam always claimed that
the evaluation had nothing to do with whether
NGOs, including MOC, usually include evalua- funding would continue or not. Our own feeling,
tion in their on-going activities. Often, however, however, was that any new grants would depend
donor agencies insist on evaluations with very on a positive outcome from the evaluation.
On being evaluated 89

All this meant that we had mixed feelings knew were functioning well. In fact, we deliber-
about the evaluation. On the one hand, outsiders ately selected groups for the case study which we
were invading our space, questioning things to knew were undergoing major problems; we
which we were committed and which meant a lot raised questions which would reveal personal
to us and so passing judgement on our lives. connections in some projects; we questioned
On the other hand, it was an opportunity to authoritarian behaviour among community
question ourselves, to look more deeply at our leaders, and so on. In the end, we opted for being
work, without getting too emotionally involved. totally open in sharing documentation and
Also, since we were experiencing some internal information about MOC.
conflict over what we were doing and why, the For us, the whole business was marred by a
evaluation offered the chance to express these mixture of tensions: the need to keep faith with
concerns, and might give us some insights into the process (after all, the renewal of the funding
how we could improve our contribution to the agreement depended on the outcome!); an
popular movement. inconclusive discussion about our objectives;
and finally, the personal evaluation of everyone
involved. Yet, at the same time, we were very
hopeful that the process would give us the basis
The evaluation process
on which to confirm our own direction.
The way the evaluation process developed was
enriching as well as contradictory. In a sense, it
forced us to sit down, reflect, and learn from
The report and discussion
what we were doing.
One particularly positive aspect of the exper- After the information-gathering phase and
ience was the one-to-one interviews which the subsequent discussions in the communities, we
researchers held with each member of the team, received the first draft of the evaluation report. It
which helped us to reflect on the work and not was a valuable document about the MOC our
just reply off the top of our heads. There were objectives, engagement, and philosophy and
also some collective sessions, which were quite case studies of some of the communities.
revealing. However, partly because of its scope and the
They asked us for a lot of information: about short time it took to complete the research, partly
the life of the organisation, how it related to the because of the limitations of the research team,
broader social context and so on, and about the the report had little impact on MOC's work: it
detail of our projects, accounts, procedures, and certainly did not meet our expectations.
reports. This called for an enormous effort on In the first place, the issues which it raised, as
our part, but we tried to engage in the process far as we were concerned, needed to be explored
confidently and openly, precisely because we more fully. Secondly, in spite of our hopes, it
were the ones with something at stake. Every- gave us few useful insights. Thirdly, we found
thing we said and did was checked. From time to certain conclusions about the MOC, and some of
time, however, we began to wonder: were we our partner groups, rather distorted.
being serious, straightforward, or just naive? There was one meeting between the research-
Was it worth being so open and sincere? ers and the MOC team, together with Oxfam, to
Because of what it represented, the evaluation discuss the final report, in which we put forward
was in fact a burden, whatever the good intentions all our points of disagreement with it. However,
of the evaluators. Not everyone felt like going the atmosphere did not make for an open dis-
along with it. Sometimes we got the feeling that cussion. On the contrary, it seemed to us that
we were under surveillance. In the field visits, everyone came to the table with their prejudices
when the evaluators were accompanied by team intact, so that the meeting contributed little to the
members, we were sometimes tempted just to process as a whole. Few modifications of sub-
show them the aspects of our work which we stance were introduced into the report.
90 Development and Patronage

We felt frustrated about all the things which agencies in deciding, on a more objective basis,
were not raised in the final document. We felt whether it is appropriate to embark on any
threatened by the impact that it might have on particular evaluation process. In our opinion, we
others, including the funding agencies, espec- are rarely free to do this. And what would the
ially given its failure to convey accurately who Northern NGOs think of the idea? What is
we are and what we aim to do. We feel that we certain is that we get involved in one evaluation
became the objects of an evaluation which mis- after another, without any of them really helping
represented our work and that of the us to be more effective in achieving our aims.
communities without allowing us the right to
defend ourselves. Essentially, we felt that we 3 It is imperative to ensure a proper match
had become the object of decisions which were between the nature of the work to be evaluated
to be taken bilaterally by the Foundation and and the expertise of the evaluators, especially in
Oxfam. We thus decided to suspend the final the area of social organisation with popular
part of the process: a seminar with various sectors. Only then will an appropriate method-
Banian organisations about the results. ology be agreed.
While we had seen the evaluation as a process 4 In our view, it is crucial that evaluation should
and not as a document, what predominated was be a collective process, not one in which we are
the fixation on the report. Since the report in treated or made to feel as though we are just an
question was one with which we could not agree, object. The main thing is that evaluation should
the gap between ourselves and the evaluators help us to think more deeply about what we are
grew wider. Eventually, we decided to hold a doing, drawing the lessons and redirecting our
slightly different seminar, just for representat- work, if necessary. We have no wish to be
ives of the organisations involved in the objects of studies and research.
evaluation, run by a facilitator. While it was
5 Donor agencies and local organisations need
heavy-going to begin with, this managed to clear
to learn how to deal with the question of evalua-
the air a bit, making it possible for people to
tion more calmly, more self-critically, and more
discuss the process, the methodology, and field-
honestly. Of course, evaluation is absolutely
work, more calmly. Everyone acknowledged
fundamental: it has to happen and should never
their faults and their strengths. It was a step
be ignored. But decisions cannot be made uni-
forward. We had acted sincerely, and reached laterally, because so much depends on timing,
some rich and profound conclusions. practicalities, the choice of evaluators, and so
on. Everyone involved needs to understand the
objectives and agree with the choice of evalua-
Some conclusions tion methods. For the most part, academic
research methodologies are inappropriate for
We believe that there are some useful lessons to evaluating social organisation work.
come out of this process, which can help every-
one involved in evaluations. There are many other issues we could raise, but
the above comments are enough to give an idea
1 An evaluation proposal must be discussed
of our concerns, our feelings, our ideas, and the
fully and clearly, allowing everyone to explain
way in which we have developed, as a group, in
their particular way of seeing things, express
the process. Now, of course, we are more exper-
their expectations, and explore their concerns, in
ienced; and we hope to have contributed to
order to reduce the scope for misunderstandings.
setting the framework for better and clearer
2 We Southern NGOs must develop the capac- relationships between local organisations and
ity to reflect on our work and be clear about donor agencies, in the context of evaluation.
when and under what conditions we think evalu-
ations should take place. In this way, we can be (This article first appeared in Development in
straightforward and open with Northern donor Practice, Volume 3, Number 3, in 1993.)
91

Sustainability is not about money!:


the case of the Belize Chamber of Commerce
and Industry

Deryck R Brown

Recent concern over the sustainability of provide technical assistance for and facilitate
development institutions almost invariably export and tourism-related projects as well as to
seems to focus on the financial aspects of the facilitate (foreign) investments in Belize' (BCCI
problem. Donors provide project funding within 1994). The BCCI presents a stark example of an
a specified time frame and expect that, when the institution where, under pressure from and with
funding comes to an end, recipient institutions the full support and encouragement of the donor,
will have mapped out a strategy for cost- sustainability was perceived in purely financial
recovery or meeting recurrent expenditure that terms and became an end in itself, instead of a
will enable them to continue producing means to an end. The case is offered here not as a
goods/services well into the future. This article, typical example, but merely as evidence of what
which is informed by insights gleaned during the can go wrong in such circumstances.
course of a study of institutional sustainability in
Central America and the Caribbean (Brown
1996), takes the view that the tendency to equate Sustainability and the recurrent-
sustainability with financial self-sufficiency and cost problem
to concentrate efforts on revenue generation is in Studies of institutional sustainability always
fact a mistake and a potentially disastrous return to one basic theme: meeting recurrent
distraction for an institution implementing a costs. Even those studies which begin by
development programme. Sustainability and explicitly eschewing the financial interpretation
development objectives conflict, and the institu- of the problem (such as Brinkerhoff and
tion is pulled in different directions. Since the Goldsmith 1990; Brinkerhoff 1992a, 1992b;
pressures for sustainability are often more Finsterbusch 1990; Gustafson 1994; LaFond
intense (and more difficult to resist) than the 1995; SIDA 1995) seem to end up exactly where
developmental goals, the institution can easily they claim not to be starting off.
lose sight of the latter as sustainability itself There is no gainsaying the importance of
becomes the main goal. financial viability in continuing activities begun
To illustrate the point, let us consider the case with donor assistance. There is compelling
of the Belize Chamber of Commerce and evidence that, where the government or some
Industry (BCCI), which was the executing other agent in the recipient country fails to step
agency for a USAID-funded project worth some in to fill the vacuum left by the donor's
US$2.5 million between 1986 and 1993. The withdrawal, the project-initiated activity suffers
purpose of the project was 'to develop the a loss of quality or ceases altogether (SIDA
capacity of the private sector to promote, 1991; LaFond 1995). Ex post evaluations of
92 Development and Patronage

numerous projects have found low levels of programme's main, 'proper' core activity. The
sustainability several years after project comple- idea is that the new activity will be the money-
tion. In many cases, quality tends to be high spinner and will be approached from the outset
while external funding is available to pay for as a 'business' intended to yield a profit which
staff, overheads, equipment, and consumables. can be ploughed back into the main programme.
Once the funds run out, however, it is often Small-scale credit is an especially popular
impossible to maintain those levels of product- activity from this standpoint, as it is widely
ion , because local funders are either unwilling or perceived that credit is one of the few activities
unable to provide funds at the same level as with an intrinsic revenue-generating capacity.
external donors. There is little doubt that this is a major reason
Because the donor's most obvious contribu- why NGOs, in particular, gravitate towards
tion is financial, finding alternative sources of microfinance (cf Dichter 1995; Hulme and
funds becomes a major preoccupation for Mosley 1996). But credit is not the only ancillary
recipient institutions as the project-completion activity contemplated; these can range from
date approaches. This drive for financial self- renting out property and offering blood-testing
sufficiency is not merely encouraged but facilities to the provision of professional
actually demanded by donor agencies. consultancy services and, as we shall see in the
Recipients therefore devote considerable time case of the BCCI, the establishment of a lottery
and resources to identifying ways of generating (lotto) game (Brown 1996).
income that could be applied to the recurrent
expenditure of the programme.
Background to the BCCI project
Generally speaking, two strategies can be
employed for revenue-generation. First, the The Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry
recipient might introduce cost-recovery charges is a membership organisation, set up since 1920
and user-fees in an attempt, at the very least, to as the representative body of big commercial
make the programme's output pay for itself. enterprises in Belize City. It has grown into a
Secondly, the recipient might consider divers- national businesspeople's association which
ifying its activities and moving into areas which represents the interests of the private sector to
it perceives as being profitable. These two government and foreign investors. From 1986,
options are by no means mutually exclusive; through its technical arm, BEIPU (Belize Export
each one is accompanied by its own set of and Investment Promotion Unit), it got involved
considerations, trade-offs, and pitfalls. in the areas of investment-promotion and
On the down side, introducing cost-recovery export- development, particularly the promotion
charges and user-fees can lead to a form of price of non-traditional exports.
discrimination which serves to exclude the Until 1986, the BCCI's only source of income
intended beneficiaries and threatens the was contributions/subscriptions from members,
developmental objective of reaching the very which never exceeded Bz$100,000 (Bz$l =
poorest. To address this concern, two variants of US$0.50) annually. In 1986, however, the
this option might emerge. First, prices are set at Chamber signed a Cooperative Agreement with
a level that ensures equity but at the same time US AID by which approximately Bz$5.7 million
generates minimal income, thereby rendering as was provided by the latter over a seven-year
farce any idea of financial self-sufficiency. The period (1986-1993). These funds were to be
second possibility is the introduction of a 'two- used to develop the private sector's capacity,
tiered' system, in which one set of 'fee-based' particularly in the fields of non-traditional
goods or services is offered to the lower-income exports and tourism.
clients. Between 1989 and 1993, the BCCI grew into
Product-diversification, on the other hand, a national development agency with chapters (or
involves the identification and introduction of a divisions) in each district of Belize. Membership
new activity as an ancillary or adjunct to the grew from under 100 to 622, of which 80 per
Sustainability is not about money! 93

cent were small and micro enterprises. The Executive Council and management began to
activities of the Chamber came to embrace both consider alternative sources of income which
economic and social development through would enable it to continue delivering its
employment-creation, attracting foreign direct developmental services beyond the end of the
investment, export-development, and the project. One overriding consideration was that
provision of business information. During the the Chamber could not enter into activities
project period it conducted over 30 workshops; which competed with its members. The
delivered training and provided direct assistance Chamber therefore devised and agreed upon a
to small entrepreneurs; organised missions to three-pronged strategy for achieving sustain-
more than 30 international trade fairs; produced ability in 1992, as follows:
various publications and marketing materials,
including an investment brochure and video as expanding and retaining its membership;
well as a monthly newsletter for the business becoming the local agent for Western Union
community; provided guidance and assistance in the money-transfer business;
to farmers and manufacturers in exporting their establishing a national lottery (Lotto) game to
products; and participated in the establishment be administered for a fee.
of a Junior Achievement Programme in 17 high
schools. Essentially, the plan was that revenues from the
Lotto game would replace USAID's funding,
The Chamber also set up a Policy and
thereby allowing the BCCI to continue its
Planning Unit to deal, among other things, with
developmental activities. But the initial
a number of trade issues and to facilitate inward
enthusiasm for the game, combined with other
investment; provided a full range of consultancy
circumstances, led the Chamber to lose sight of
services using Belizean consultants; and funded
its mission. It became so preoccupied with its
a pilot credit scheme through the National
new 'money-spinner' and the idea of becoming
Development Foundation of Belize (also a
USAID-funded institution). It served as a sustainable in the narrow financial sense that its
catalyst for expanded economic activities in developmental activities were neglected. Thus
Belize and contributed significantly to the the programme for which sustainability was
development of a viable handicraft industry in sought in the first place was supplanted by an
the country. Audited financial statements of the activity which could succeed in solving the
BCCI showed that annual expenditure averaged recurrent-cost problem, but delivered no
Bz$l .5 million, of which 50 per cent was spent developmental benefits whatsoever.
though BEIPU on developmental projects and a
further 10 percent was spent on the development The Lotto game
of the handicraft industry (BCCI 1994).
The BCCI entered into an understanding with
From all indications, the programme was
the Government of Belize (GoB) in 1992 to
reasonably successful, and a US AID evaluation
establish the Lotto game, whereby the GoB
gave the Chamber high marks for its pivotal role
would own 60 per cent of the enterprise and the
in promoting and facilitating economic
Chamber the remaining 40 per cent. A sudden
expansion and job-creation, as well as regional
change of government, however, prompted a
integration. In particular, the Chamber was
new agreement by which the GoB held 100 per
commended for stimulating and improving the
cent ownership of the game and the BCCI was
local handicraft industry (closely allied to
contracted to manage it for a period offiveyears.
tourism) and the non-traditional export sector
Technical support and other assistance with the
(USAID 1992).
setting up of the Lotto game, including the
Recognising that funding from USAID was procurement of equipment, was provided by a
coming to an end, and under pressure from the Canadian financial group, CBN. Estimates
donor to demonstrate its potential sustainability prepared by CBN suggested that sales in the first
as reflected in revenue generated, the BCCI's
94 Development and Patronage

12 months would amount to at least Bz$14 activity and, in the process, to devote more time
million (BCCI 1994). and resources to what, initially, was intended to
The game was eventually launched in be merely a secondary activity. Similarly, failure
December 1993, but in its first 11 months ticket prompts programme managers to switch
sales fell far short of the estimate. In fact, total attention to the secondary activity, in order to
sales were less than Bz$2 million. Because of the ensure its success. Because there are often sunk
disappointing performance, the BCCI was costs and deep emotional commitment to the
unable to meet its contractual obligations to both income-earning activity, it is difficult to
the GoB and CBN, as their shares of the withdraw from it once it has started. In either
proceeds were diverted to meeting the costs case, it is the original developmental objective
involved in promoting and operating the Lotto that suffers.
game. This also meant that the Chamber was Donors' insistence on sustainability in the
unable to make any payments against the cost of purely financial sense must therefore be
the equipment for which it alone had assumed tempered by a recognition that desirable devel-
liability. Throughout thisfirstyear, the Chamber opmental activities particularly those which
spent considerable sums of its own money to cater to 'the poorest' will never be(come)
develop the game and keep it going. Indeed, sustainable in that sense, because their capacity
developing and managing the Lotto became, for for revenue-generation is weak or non-existent
all intents and purposes, the BCCI's major if (LaFond 1995; SIDA 1991,1995). As LaFond
not only activity. (1995) argues, it is time for donors to 'dispel the
Having put up the developmental costs of sustainability myth' by acknowledging the
setting up the Lotto game and even suffered the reality that, in most developing countries, there
embarrassment of being sued by an advertising are constraints on local financing capacity which
firm (and losing some of its assets in the threaten sustainability.
process), the BCCI lost control of the On the recipient side, the overwhelming
management of the project towards the end of lesson is that sustainability is emphatically not a
1994, when the GoB suspended its operations financial issue. There seems to be a common
and indicated its intention to award the path down which recipient institutions travel.
management contract to another organisation. Having defined the problem posed by the
By this time, most of the Chamber's human and termination of donor funding as a financial
financial resources had been committed to the problem, they logically seekfinancialsolutions.
Lotto game, with the result that its devel- Halfway down that path, however, theyfindthat
opmental activities were almost non-existent. they must confront the reality that sustainability
Finding a way to becomefinanciallysustainable means much more than simply finding a way to
had become more important than the pro- raise sufficient revenue from whatever source to
gramme of support for tourism, non-traditional meet their recurrent costs. If the definition of the
exports, and business and trade promotion. problem is wrong, the solution must be equally
wrong, because it will be founded on false
premises. Moreover, where sustainability is
The moral of the story
equated with financial self-sufficiency, it is not
The case of the BCCI provides one important always clear whether this means total or partial
lesson: sustainability is not about money! self-sufficiency.
Pursuing so-called 'money-making' ventures Recipient institutions are thus well advised to
can prove a dangerous distraction for many agree from the outset an appropriate definition
development agencies which are ill-equipped of sustainability which applies to their specific
for the role. As the case study shows, both programmes and contexts, as well as a detailed
success and failure can have negative plan for achieving it. In other words, a strategy
consequences. Success of an ancillary activity for sustainability ought to be built into the
encourages programme managers to expand that programme design from inception, and the
Sustainability is not about money! 95

modalities for achieving it settled early in the life lessons: findings from cross-case analysis of
of the programme and not left to thefinalyear (or seven development projects', in Brinkerhoff and
worse, the dying months) of funding. Goldsmith (eds) 1990.
Gustafson, D. J. (1994) 'Developing
sustainable institutions: lessons from cross-case
References
analysis', Public Administration and Develop-
Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry ment, 14:121-34.
(1994) 'Impact, Funding Sources and Critical Hulme, D. and P. Mosley (1996) Finance Against
Factors Surrounding the Lotto Game', Poverty, London and New York: Routledge.
unpublished report, Belize City: BCCI. LaFond, A. (1995) Sustaining Primary Health
Brinkerhoff, D. W. and A. A. Goldsmith (eds) Care, London: Earthscan/Save the Children UK.
(1990) Institutional Sustainability in Agricul- SIDA (1991) The Art of Survival: A Study of
ture and Rural Development: A Global Sustainability in Health Projects (prepared by L.
Perspective, New York: Praeger. Andersson-Brolin etal), Stockholm: SIDA.
Brinkerhoff, D. W. (1992a) 'Looking out, SIDA (1995) Promoting Development by
looking ahead: guidelines for managing Proxy: An Evaluation of the Development
development programs', International Review Impact of Government Support to Swedish
ofAdministrative Sciences, 58:483-503. NGOs (prepared by R. C. Riddell et al),
Brinkerhoff, D. W. (1992b) 'Promoting the Stockholm: SIDA.
sustainability of development institutions: a USAID (1992) 'Evaluation of USAID-BCCI
framework for strategy', World Development, Project', unpublished report, Belize City:
20(3): 369-83. USAID.
Brown, D.R. (1996) 'Learning and Institutional
Sustainability in Donor Funded Development
The author
Programmes: Applying SCOPE to Three
Caribbean Case Studies', PhD Dissertation, Deryck R Brown is currently a Research
Institute for Development Policy and Manage- Associate of the Institute of Social and Econ-
ment, University of Manchester. omic Research (ISER) at the University of the
Dichter, T. W. (1995) 'The Future of West Indies (UWI). He was previously Director
International NGOs in Microfinance', paper of the Trinidad & Tobago Small Business
presented at a conference on Finance Against Development Company. This article first
Poverty, University of Reading, UK. appeared in Development in Practice, Volume 7,
Finsterbusch, K. (1990) 'Sustainability Number 2, in 1997.
96

The wrong path: the World Bank's


Country Assistance Strategy for Mexico
Carlos Heredia and Mary Purcell

Under the leadership of President James In drafting the Mexico CAS, the Mexican
Wolfensohn at the World Bank, a greater Finance Secretariat called together represent-
emphasis has been placed on the Country atives from the various Secretariats (Agricul-
Assistance Strategy (CAS) paper. This docu- ture, Labour, Environment) and the government
ment lays out a strategy for the Bank's lending development banks for two weeks of meetings in
operations in a given country. It is updated every which each Secretariat presented its analysis of
year for large countries like Mexico, and every the current situation, and its objectives for the
two to three years for smaller countries. upcoming year. This information was then
According to Bank officials in Washington, incorporated into the CAS. No non-government
even more importance will be placed on the CAS entity participated in the process, nor did that
in Latin America in coming years. In a few idea ever emerge as a possibility.
countries in Africa and Asia, the process of When Equipo Pueblo requested a copy of the
developing the CAS has been opened up to 1995 CAS (written in May that year), an official
include the opinions of some members of civil at the Mexico City Resident Mission of the
society. In Latin America, however, no CAS has World Bank (now called the Mexico Depart-
been developed with public participation. ment) played down the importance of the docu-
Although the Bank's information policy does ment, saying that it would probably not be of
not require it to release the CAS, in many much use to us. One week later, the same official
countries it has been circulated publicly. In sent word that the Bank would not give us a copy
Mexico, however, the CAS remains a secret of the document. (We assumed that the govern-
document. ment had something to do with the decision.) We
Among organisations of civil society, there then obtained the document through colleagues
are different opinions about the importance of in Washington. But our experience illustrates
the CAS in our work. Since it lays out the overall the fact that policy changes and improved
direction and objectives of Bank lending, its rhetoric issuing out of Washington have yet to
content is important to many groups seeking to trickle down to many Resident Missions. It also
influence Bank policies in their country. At the shows that the government has an important say
same time, however, it must be recognised that in what information the Bank Missions will
there is an important difference between what share. In fact, the new Operations Manager at the
the CAS is supposed to be (a development Bank's Mexico Department told us that they
strategy) and what it really is (a public-relations would be willing to initiate a participatory CAS
document geared to creditors). as soon as the government agrees.
The World Bank's Country Assistance Strategy for Mexico 97

Content of the CAS: mistaken structural adjustment implemented since


analysis and priorities 1982. The Bank does not attempt to explain why,
after 13 years of structural adjustment, average
Given the nature of the process one of
economic growth has been unable to keep up
government Secretariats emphasising their
with the rate of population growth. While the
priorities it is not surprising that the content
Bank acknowledges (in retrospect) Mexico's
of the 1995 Mexico CAS is highly disappoint-
over-dependence on short-term speculative
ing. It uses the same outdated analysis to explain
capital, it does not answer the fundamental
the economic crisis, and offers the same failed
question of why Mexico is so extremely
remedies, which we feel have proved incapable
dependent on foreign capital flows to finance its
of addressing Mexico's structural impediments
current-account deficit: that is, what are the
to development. Throughout the document,
structural impediments to domestic savings?
monetary issues are emphasised over social or
economic issues. The Mexico CAS illustrates
the misguided priorities of the Bank in countries Assessment of the economic
throughout the world sacrificing wages, jobs, programme
and social services in order to pay the foreign
debt and secure fiscal surpluses. According to The Bank 'assesses' the Mexican government's
Bank staff, Mexico was supposed to 'graduate' programme as if it had nothing to do with
from the World Bank in the second half of the developing it. Because of the relative size and
1990s. Instead, it became the Bank's largest importance of Mexico, the Bank is careful not to
single borrower in 1995, and now accounts for appear to be dictating policy. Nevertheless, it is
12 per cent of the Bank's total portfolio. clear that the Bank has played a key role in
Mexico's adjustment programme and now in
Here, we review some of the key sections of
crisis management.
the 1995 CAS. Since it was written only five
months after the eruption of the economic crisis,
there was still a great deal of uncertainty regarding 'Strengths'
the overall Bank strategy. Thus, the Bank promises
According to the Bank, 'the program is based,
that the 1996 CAS (which was reportedly still
correctly, on the premise that the immediate
being prepared in July 1996) will contain more
problem is largely one of short-term cash-flow,
information regarding the Bank's medium-term
and not of insolvency, and so its first objective is
strategy in Mexico. In the future, we hope that
to restore stability by re-building international
Mexican civil society will be able to participate
confidence'. We disagree with that analysis, believ-
actively in developing the CAS, and not simply
ing that there is solid evidence in the financial
engage in post facto analysis of a secret document
and productive sectors that the crisis is of a
so central to the country's development strategy.
structural nature, and that only the tens of billions of
dollars in foreign loans have allowed a temporary
Causes of the crisis respite from a massive insolvency crisis.
The Bank and the government of Mexico con-
The Mexico CAS does not even entertain the
tinue to count on exports 'to lead a recovery of
possibility that the economic strategy which the
economic growth'. They highlight the more
Bank has supported since 1982 may be partly to
'competitive' devalued peso as a key
blame for the current crisis. Nowhere does the
reason for such an export boom. They do not,
Bank accept any responsibility for flawed policy
however, address the other factors pointing to
advice: everything is the fault of either
the temporary nature of the surge in exports. The
government policy errors, political instability,
vast majority of companies which have increased
or international volatility.
their sales abroad are doing so because of a
There is no serious review of the performance
severely depressed domestic market, and not
of the economic strategy in other words,
because they have increased their output. As the
98 Development and Patronage

peso slowly becomes over-valued, and as the is never a mention of any sort of comprehensive
government induces a (minor) recovery through strategy to achieve this. The government has not
public spending in the run-up to the 1997 mid- fulfilled its commitment to develop a National
term federal elections, exports will lose their Poverty Eradication Plan, made at the 1995
momentum. Copenhagen Social Summit. Concepts such as
social equity, gender equality, and income-
generation for the poor are completely absent
Risks from the Mexico C AS.
The Bank recognises that 'the clearest risk to the The Bank's ever-present assumption that a
economic program concerns the banking sector, more rapid pace in economic growth in and of
which is under systemic stress due to the crisis'. itself allows for a reduction in poverty has been
The fact that in late 1995 the two most important proved wrong many times. Mexico's levels of
banks in Mexico (Banamex and Bancomer) had absolute poverty and inequality have increased
to rely on public subsidies is indicative of the steadily since 1982 (with the possible exception
severity of the solvency crisis shared by most of 1990-91), and the 1994-96 crisis has
economic actors in the country. exacerbated poverty in a serious way. According
The Bank's strategy for dealing with the to a recent World Bank study, 85 per cent of the
banking crisis is to provide over one billion Mexican population now lives in poverty. Prior
dollars to bolster the banks, instead of address- experience suggests that geographical targeting
ing the inability of seven million debtors to of resources where poor and indigenous people
service their debts. Unless the economic are concentrated is not enough for programmes
situation of indebted businesses and families to reach those most in need.
improves, however, the banks will face an
increasing problem of non-performing loans.
Designing an effective
The second key risk pointed out by the Bank
development strategy for Mexico
is 'the social costs of the crisis, which is already
causing widespread transitional unemploy- The World Bank's 1995 Country Assistance
ment' . Along with debt, this is probably the most Strategy for Mexico is highly disappointing.
serious problem facing Mexico today. Close to Both its content and the process by which it was
two million people (instead of the one million developed illustrate the enormous gap between
estimated by the government and the Bank) lost the needs and realities of millions of Mexicans
their jobs in 1995. Indeed, surveys show that, and the policy recommendations of the
even if their economic situation improves, many government and its World Bank advisers. A
of the firms which laid workers off are not truly effective assistance strategy for Mexico
planning to re-hire them in the future. Thus, would prioritise innovative approaches to
unemployment appears to be more than a development that included income-generating
transitional problem. strategies for the poor, direct access to
subsidised credit for small and medium-sized
producers and businesses (focusing especially
Mexico's development objectives on women), and concrete measures for de-
and policies centralising economic and political power. It
The CAS devotes only two pages out of 22 to this should also set goals: for example, for the
subject, one of which focuses solely on private- gradual elimination of poverty and the creation
sector development. One short paragraph is of jobs. None of these issues is significantly
dedicated to the theme of poverty-alleviation, addressed in the 1995 CAS.
and another to environmental sustainability. While macro-economic management is
Both are more descriptive of existing problems clearly crucial, it cannot take the place of real
than strategy-oriented. Although the phrase development initiatives. A one-billion dollar
'poverty reduction' is used several times, there social safety-net to 'protect' the poor from the
The World Bank's Country Assistance Strategy for Mexico 99

economic crisis does not constitute a poverty-


eradication strategy. A sustainable development
programme must be developed with the
participation of organisations of civil society
including producer groups, non-government
organisations (NGOs), labour unions, academ-
ics, and so on. Equipo Pueblo has joined with
others to launch a campaign to ensure greater
access to information, and the right to participate
in World Bank and Inter-American Develop-
ment Bank projects and policies in Mexico. Part
of our work will be to push both the Bank and the
government for public involvement in developing
the World Bank's Country Assistance Strategy.

The authors
Mary Purcell and Carlos Heredia work with
Equipo Pueblo, a Mexican NGO involved in
policy analysis and related lobbying. This paper,
based on their July 1996 report 'The World
Bank's Country Assistance Strategy for
Mexico: Analysis and an Alternative Agenda',
appeared in the July-August 1996 issue of The
Other Side of Mexico (No 47), and has been
reproduced here with permission. Its first
appearance in Development in Practice was in
Volume 7, Number2, in 1997.
100

Annotated bibliography

This Bibliography represents a sample of agnostic, unorthodox, or even heretical thinking about
the nature and purpose of development, particularly concerning relations among nations and
peoples. In an effort to reflect something of the richness and diversity of such thinking, we have
included several edited collections, as well as works by authors who have come to be icons or
touchstones of critical alternatives to mainstream analysis. The Bibliography was compiled and
annotated by Deborah Eade and Caroline Knowles, Editor and Reviews Editor respectively of
Development in Practice.

Books a local framework that takes account of inter-


action on a world scale. Amin then offers a thesis
Nassau A. Adams: Worlds Apart: The
of 'alternative development', which would be
North-South Divide and the International System
national and popular, and favour South-South
London: Zed Books, 1993
cooperation through a polycentric world system
Traces the history of North-South relations since
which would replace the five 'great powers'
1945, focusing on the role of the international
(USA, USSR, Europe, Japan, China) and the
economic system. Relates the efforts of the South to
duopoly of two superpowers which marginalises
change a system it considered unjust and inimical to
the Third World, and provide it with real scope for
its interests; the partial successes achieved in the development.
1960s and 70s (including the creation of
UNCTAD), and subsequent reversals; the meta- Augusto Boal: Theater of the Oppressed
morphosis of the IMF and World Bank into the London: Pluto Press (originally published in
principal vehicles for the conduct of the North's 1974 as Teatro de Oprimido), 1979
relations with the South. Describes the current Traces the history of drama since the ancient
impasse wherein the South must accept policy pre- Greeks to argue that all theatre is necessarily
scriptions dictated by the North, yet can look forward political. Theatre used to be of and for the people
to little real prospect of increasing living standards, singing and dancing in the open air but was
let alone narrowing the North-South gap. slowly taken over by the ruling classes, so
changing the concept of theatre to feature actors
Samir Amin: Maldevelopment: (protagonists) and a passive audience. Using
Anatomy of a Global Failure examples from Brazil, the author argues that
London: Zed Books (with the UN University and radical theatre in Latin America is breaking
the Third World Forum) 1990 down the barriers between actors and spectators.
Analyses the failure of development from a political All must act and all must be protagonists in the
standpoint .aiming to integrate economic, political, necessary transformation of society.
social and cultural considerations and fit them into
Annotated bibliography 101

Rosi Braidotti et al: Women, the Environment ordinance. The decolonisation of the mind is
and Sustainable Development: Towards a what permits constructive change: subjugation
Theoretical Synthesis is as much the key to the 'over-development' of
London: Zed Books, 1994 the North as to the 'under-development' of the
An attempt to disentangle the various positions South. Rejecting conventional approaches which
on sustainable development, the environment, start by analysing what people lack, Carmen
and women and to clarify the political and focuses on the 'cultural, social, educational,
theoretical issues at stake. Offers a critical ethical and other values' that characterise them;
review of issues such as the feminist analysis of and in which human development must
science itself and the power relations inherent in necessarily be embedded.
the production of knowledge; women, environ-
Robert Chambers: Whose Reality Counts:
ment, and development (WED); alternative
Putting the First Last
development; environmental reformism; and deep
London: IT Publications, 1997
ecology, social ecology, and ecofeminism. The
This sequel to Rural Development: Putting the
authors also present their own ideas on the basic
Last First (1983) argues that central issues in
elements necessary in constructing a para-
development have been overlooked and that
digmatic shift emphasising such values as
many errors have flowed from domination by
holism, mutuality, justice, autonomy, self-
those with power. Development professionals
reliance, sustainability, and peace.
need new approaches and methods for inter-
Cristovam Buarque: The End of Economics? acting, learning, and knowing. Through analysing
Ethics and the Disorder of Progress experience of past mistakes and myths, and the
London: Zed Books, 1993 (originally published continuing methodological evolution of PRA,
in Brazil as A Desordem do Progresso: Ofim the author points towards solutions. Rural and
de era dos economistas e a construcao do urban people alike express and analyse their
futuro, 1990) local, complex, and diverse realities in ways
Presents the case for an ethical system to guide which are often at odds with the top-down
economic theory and practice, arguing that high realities imposed by professionals. Personal,
levels of consumption among the rich cannot be professional, and institutional change is
sustained and extended to the entire population. necessary if the realities of the poor are to
This implies a stark choice between a brand of receive greater recognition.
development geared to universal consumption
Noam Chomsky: World Orders, Old and New
and technology, building on a system of social
London: Pluto, 1994
partitioning on a global scale; or the challenge of
An acclaimed scholar of linguistics, Chomsky is
building a new order in which the economic
more widely known as a relentless critic of all
system is governed by ethical principles, a
forms of contemporary imperialism, and of US
framework in which respect for nature and
foreign policy in particular. Common to Chomsky's
abolition of human want would be the key social
prolific output is a concern with human rights,
objectives. Technological advance must respect
and with exposing the negative global impact of
nature, and the fetish of applying economic
Western notions of liberal democracy in the
theories without regard to their human
context of its defence of corporate power, of
consequences must be abandoned.
which this book is a recent example.
Raff Carmen: Autonomous Development:
Michel Chossudovsky: The Globalisation of
Humanising the Landscape An Excursion
Poverty: Impacts ofIMF and World Bank Reforms
into Radical Thinking and Practice
London: Zed Books with Third World
London: Zed Books, 1996
Network, 1997
Arguing that development is primarily an act of
Shows how the structures of the global economy
human creation, the author affirms that people
have changed since the early 1980s and explains
are silenced by human agency, not by divine
102 Development and Patronage

how the World Bank and IMF have forced Third Franz Fanon: The Wretched of the Earth,
World (and, since 1989, Eastern European Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1963
countries) to facilitate these changes. Describes (originally published in French as Les damnes
the consequences of a new financial order which delaterre, 1961)
feeds on human poverty and destruction of the An impassioned critique of colonialism in all
environment, generates social apartheid, encourages its expressions, and a rallying cry for the
racism and ethnic strife, and undermines the emancipation of 'the wretched of the earth', this
rights of women. The result is the globalisation classic has influenced many liberation move-
of poverty. ments. Here, as in his earlier work, Black Skins,
White Masks (first published in 1952 as Peau
Jonathan Crush (ed.): Power of Development
Noire, Masques Blancs), Fanon argues that
London: Routledge, 1995
cultural alienation and internalised assumptions of
Post-colonial, post-modern, and feminist
inferiority and Otherness are the inevitable
thinking have focused on the power structures
corollary to the condition of subjugation. The
embedded within the discourse and practice of
process of decolonisation is necessarily a violent
development. Rather than asking 'what devel-
phenomenon: it is no less than the dissolution of
opment is, or is not, or how it can be more
both coloniser and colonised, in terms both of
accurately defined, better "theorised", or sustain-
national histories and of people's lived
ably practised', these 20 essays examine the
experiences.
language of development 'the forms in which
it makes its arguments and establishes its Paulo Freire: Pedagogy of the Oppressed,
authority, the manner in which it constructs the Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1972
world'. Contributors variously show that (originally published in Portuguese as
although development is itself a Western myth Pedagogia del Oprimido)
about the world, it has come to assume a kind of Defining reading as a political act, the author
global reality of its own however distant from presents a theory of adult education based on
that of the people and societies it describes. communication and problem-solving dialogue
between equals. Literacy and liberation are
Arturo Escobar: Encountering Development: joined in the notion of 'naming the world', the
The Making and Unmaking of the Third World basis upon which people who are poor and
Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995 oppressed can mobilise to change it. Freire was a
Suggests that the idea of development, and even prolific writer, though this remains his best-
the Third World, may be in the process of being known work. Other major titles include:
unmade, because of the failure of development Education for Critical Consciousness; Cultural
and increasing opposition in the South. Escobar Action for Freedom, Education for Critical
examines the discourse and apparatus of develop- Consciousness; The Politics of Education:
ment since 1949, and the construction of the Culture, Power and Liberation; Learning to
notion of 'under-development' in economic Question: A Pedagogy of Liberation; and (with
theories. Using examples from Colombia, he Peter McLaren) Critical Pedagogy and
demonstrates the ways in which the apparatus Predatory Culture: Oppositional Politics in a
functions through the systematic production of Post-Modern Era.
knowledge and power in fields such as rural
development, sustainable development, and women Denis Goulet: Development Ethics:
and development. The conclusion deals with A Guide to Theory and Practice
how to imagine a post-development regime of London: Zed Books, 1995
representation, and how to investigate and An introductory guide to development ethics
pursue alternatives in contemporary social which aims to question the nature of
movements in the Third World. development and its declared goals. The author
formulates general principles underlying ethical
strategies in development, and discusses their
Annotated bibliography 103

application in such topics as technology for traces the links between human rights
development, ecology and ethics, culture and particularly political and cultural rights and
tradition, and the ethics of aid. shows how rights and citizenship can be
suppressed or enhanced through global
Gustavo Gutierrez: The Power of the Poor in
communication.
History: Selected Writings
Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1993 Cynthia Hewitt de Alcantara (ed): Social
Eight selected texts from the ten years following Futures, Global Visions
publication of the classic Theology of Oxford: Blackwell with UNRISD, 1996
Liberation. Thefirstpresents a biblical survey of A collection of papers from a conference
some of the major sources of liberation theology, organised by UNRISD to coincide with the
followed by three articles which were milestones World Summit for Social Development in 1995
in its evolution: 'Involvement in the Liberation to reflect on the processes currently driving
Process'; 'Liberation Praxis and Christian Faith'; social change. The scale and speed of change
and 'The Historical Power of the Poor'. The have rendered existing paradigms and models
third section represents Gutierrez' reaction to inadequate to understand the nature of contem-
the Latin America Bishops' Conference in 1979, porary social dilemmas, and new thinking is
at which they tried to distance themselves required to provide more appropriate conceptual
liberation theology. The final section illustrates and institutional frameworks for coping with
his attempts to reach out to people outside Latin escalating social problems. The essays attempt
America, in which he argues that it is necessary to interpret and illuminate the social changes
for everyone to learn to see the world 'from ushered in by the forces of globalisation, and the
below' (the 'Theology from the Underside of impact of these forces on human welfare and
History'). solidarity.
Kofi Buenor Hadjor: Ivan Illich: In the Mirror of the Past: Lectures
Dictionary of Third World Terms and Addresses 1978-90
London: I.B. Tauris, 1992 London: Marion Boyars, 1992
Words associated with the Third World are often A collection of notes from lectures and public
loaded with assumptions and cultural attitudes, meetings, serving as an introduction to the work
and may mean quite different things to people in of Illich, radical author of famous critiques of the
different parts of the world. This dictionary educational and medical professions. Illich
focuses on this complex vocabulary. The author suggests that only by reflecting on the past is it
gives not only the meaning but also the back- possible to recognise the radical 'otherness' of
ground of the terms defined, drawing on many late-20th century assumptions and become
disciplines including economics,politics, sociology, aware of the hidden orthodoxies. This collection
anthropology, and gender studies. Entries range introduces Illich's ideas on peace and develop-
from short factual definitions to in-depth essays ment, culture and history, the alternative to
on key concepts such as dependency theory, economics, literacy and language.
liberation theology, or Malthusianism.
Naila Kabeer: Reversed Realities: Gender
Cees Hamelink: World Communication: Hierarchies in Development Thought
Disempowerment and Self-empowerment London: Verso, 1994
London: Zed Books and Penang: Traces the emergence of 'women' as a specific
Southbound/Third World Network, 1995 category in development thought and examines
A critical examination of the role of the media in alternative frameworks for analysing gender
treating information as a commodity, and of hierarchies. The household is identified as a
transnational corporations in manipulating primary site for the construction of power
developments in information and communication relations; the extent to which gender inequalities
technology for their own profit. The author are revealed in different approaches to the
104 Development and Patronage

concept of the family unit is studied. The Manfred A. Max-Neef: From the Outside
inadequacies of the poverty line as a measuring Looking In: Experiences in 'Barefoot' Economics
tool are assessed, and an overview of the issue of London: Zed Books, 1992
population policies is given. This has become a minor classic since it was first
issued by the Dag Hammarskjold Foundation in
Rajni Kothari: Poverty: Human Consciousness
1982. The author relates and reflects on two
and the Amnesia of Development
experiences in 'bare-foot economics' economics
London: Zed Books, 1995
as if people mattered, in which 'the poor must
Explores the meanings of poverty in its economic,
learn to circumvent the national (economic)
social, and political aspects and analyses the
system'. The first is about the indian and black
roles of the State and the market, both nationally
peasants in Ecuador, and the second about
and internationally in the deepening of poverty.
artisans in Brazil one the story of a success
Also examines the phenomenon of disem-
that failed; the other a failure that succeeded.
powerment and the declining access of the poor
Both refer to a people's quest for self-reliance
to the power structures of society.
and are lessons in economics practised on a
Serge Latouche: In the Wake of the Affluent human scale, in which human facts and feelings
Society: An Exploration of Post-development replace abstract statistics. These ideas are explored
London: Zed Books, 1993 further in Human Scale Development: Conception,
Argues that all development is a process of Application and Further Reflections (1991).
Westernisation which, in reality, has become a one-
Ozay Mehmet: Westernising the Third World:
dimensional preoccupation with material standards
The Eurocentricity of Economic Development
of living. However there is little prospect of most
Theories
of humanity reaching Western levels of consump-
tion, and this reconstruction of societies in a London: Routledge, 1995
Western ideological mould does not fit the Third The author blames the failure of Third World
World. The failure of development and its development on Western theories and prescrip-
impossibility as a global idea is seen as much in tions. He identifies the mainstream economic
the alienation of the cities of the North as in the theories and demonstrates that they are
shanty towns and wrecked villages of the South. Eurocentric and unsuitable for the Third World.
Latouche finds hope in the response of the poor, He also examines both Classical theories of
fighting for survival in the 'informal sector': economic development and their post-war Neo-
synthesising modernity and tradition, he classical counterparts, arguing that these are
develops an alternative model of society. fundamentally flawed because of their subjective
and normative assumptions. Further chapters
John Martinussen: Society, State and Market: A discuss model-building and macro-planning and
Guide to Competing Theories of Development the New Economic Order. The book concludes
London: Zed Books, 1997 with an appraisal of the current situation and an
A multi-disciplinary account of how development examination of the future agenda for
theory has evolved since 1945, raising questions development studies.
about the nature of development theory and the
Maria Mies and Vandana Shiva:
differentiated nature of countries in the South.
The book presents a full range of theoretical Ecofeminism: A Feminist and Ecological
approaches and current debates, organised Reader on Biotechnology
around four themes: economic development and London: Zed Books, 1993
underdevelopment; politics and the State; socio- An analysis of environmental, development, and
economic development and the State; civil feminist issues from a unique North-South
society and the development process. perspective. The authors review prevailing
economic theories, conventional concepts of
women's emancipation, the myth of 'catching
up' development, the philosophical foundations
Annotated bibliography 105

of modern science and technology, and the training of 'animators' in Asia and Africa. Some
omission of ethics when discussing such issues of the key ideas centre on what the notion of self-
as advances in reproductive technology and reliance should actually mean; an approach to
biotechnology. In constructing their own epistem- Participatory Action Research (PAR) in terms of
ology and methodology, they look to the the self-emancipation of the popular classes; the
potential of movements advocating consumer importance of knowledge relations as a factor
liberation and subsistence production, sustainability, which can perpetuate domination over ordinary
and regeneration; and they argue for an people; and an examination of popular knowledge.
acceptance of limits and reciprocity, and a
Majid Rahnema with Victoria Bawtree (eds):
rejection of exploitation, the endless commodi-
The Post-development Reader
tisation of needs, and violence.
London: Zed Books, 1997
Julius Nyerere: Freedom and Development: A A collection of essays by over 40 thinkers and
SelectionfromWritings and Speeches 1968-73 activists who evaluate the dominant develop-
DarEs Salaam: Oxford University Press, 1973 ment paradigm and what it has done to the
The third major collection of former President peoples of the world and their diverse and
Julius Nyerere's speeches and writings, from sustainable ways of living. They also present
1968 to 1973. Like the previous volumes some of the experiences and ideas out of which
{Freedom and Unity and Freedom and people are trying to construct their more humane
Socialism), it is a representative sample of his and culturally and ecologically respectful
views on socialism, economic policy, human alternatives to development.
equality, African unity and liberation, and
international relations. Wolfgang Sachs (ed.): The Development
Dictionary: A Guide to Knowledge as Power
Charles P. Oman and Ganeshan Wignaraja: London: Zed Books, 1992
The Post-war Evolution A collection of essays covering some of the key
ofDevelopment Thinking ideas of the development discourse in which
London: Macmillan with the OECD each concept is examined from a historical and
Development Centre, 1991 anthropological perspective. The chapters identify
Development thinking and practice are in a state the shifting role played by each concept in the
of flux theory apparently offering little by debate on development since 1945, demonstrate
way of solution to the crisis. This book provides how each concept filters perception, high-
a critical survey of the different schools of lighting certain aspects of reality while
development thought in which both orthodox excluding others, and show how this bias is
and alternative schools of thought are covered in rooted in particular civilisational attitudes
an up-to-date and non-technical manner. adopted during the course of European history.
Each chapter offers a different way of looking at
Md Anisur Rahman: People's Self-
the world and a glimpse of the riches which
development: Perspectives on Participatory
survive in non-Western cultures in spite of
Action Research A Journey through
development.
Experience
London: Zed Books, 1993 Edward Said: Culture and Imperialism
A collection of articles and previously published London: Vintage Books, 1994
papers in which the author reflects on Develops arguments presented in Orientalism,
development through collective local initiatives Said's critique of Western attitudes towards the
by people themselves and how to promote East, focusing on a general worldwide pattern
such development. This thinking has grown out of imperial culture, and a historical experience
of his long involvement in popular initiatives, of resistance against empire. Said examines
experimentation with participatory research, the ways in which Western literature has
and experience of field 'animation' work and represented oppressed people, and influenced
106 Development and Patronage

thefightfor equality and human community. He of people, the economy, the environment, and
also discusses 'culture' and the difficulties in the practical world of decision-making. It argues
reconciling the cruelty of colonialist and racist that poverty alleviation and sustainable develop-
oppression with the cultural expressions of ment are only likely if empowerment and its
societies that engage in those practices. One of practical institutionalisation in the law, the
imperialism's achievements was to bring the educational process, and the machinery of
world much closer together, and although in that government becomes a reality.
process the separation between Europeans and
'natives' was insidious and unjust, the historical Rehman Sobhan: Agrarian Reform and Social
experience of empire is a common one. Transformation: Preconditionsfor Development
London: Zed Books, 1993
Jeremy Seabrook: Pioneers of Change: Focusing attention on agrarian reform as a tool
Experiments in Creating a Humane Society for eradicating rural poverty, the author discusses
London: Zed Books, 1993 experiences of agrarian reform throughout the
Describes individuals and movements world- South, building a typology of such reforms, the
wide who are seeking to develop new visions varying socio-political circumstances in which
of society and experiment in practical ways they were enacted, and how this influenced their
with new lifestyles, new paths of development, outcome. He concludes that only those countries
and new relations with Nature. All share a where rural poverty was ameliorated rapidly and
belief in the value of diversity genetic, the foundations laid for permanent, all-round
cultural, and individual and challenge the development had carried out comprehensive,
dominant consumerist world view. All have egalitarian agrarian reforms. This applies as much
been recipients of the Right Livelihood Award, to market-oriented countries like Japan, South
widely known as the Alternative Nobel Prize, Korea and Taiwan, as to socialist China or Cuba.
which is presented in recognition of pioneering
The South Centre: Facing the Challenge:
efforts in the areas of peace, sustainable
Responses to the Report of the South
development, environmental integrity, social
Commission
justice, and human rights.
London: Zed Books with The South Centre, 1993
Gita Sen and Caren Grown: Development, The Challenge to the South the 1990 Report
Crises and Alternative Visions: Third World of the South Commission offered a detailed
Women's Perspectives analysis of the problems facing the countries of the
New York: Monthly Review Press, 1987 South. This book is a companion volume of 33
A brief introduction to development economics, commentaries on the Report, corresponding to
written from Southern feminist perspectives, the South Commission's wish to supplement
which examines why strategies designed to and expand its work through public comment
' achieve overall economic growth and increased and debate. It contains a summary of the Report
industrial and agricultural productivity have itself, and includes essays by leading intellec-
proven to be harmful to women. Women's tuals and activists, as well as senior IMF and
contributions are central to the ability of house- World Bank officials.
holds, communities, and nations to survive, and
Ngugi wa Thiong'o: Decolonising the Mind:
a much-needed reorientation of development
The Politics ofLanguage in African Literature
analysis can be achieved by starting from the
London: James Currey with Heinemann Kenya,
perspective of poor women.
1986
Naresh Singh and Vangile Titi (eds): One of the most important contemporary
Empowerment: Towards Sustainable Development African novelists argues that the politics of
London: Zed Books with USD, 1995 language in African literature is about national,
Explores ways to move towards a concept and democratic, and human liberation. The choice of
practice of development that integrates the needs language and the use to which it is put is central
Annotated bibliography 107

to people's definition of themselves in relation of new social movements, people's movements,


to the natural and social environment. Shows and experiments, and this book examines several
how language was used as a means of oppression which have elements of sustainability and which
under colonial rule, and calls for the search for promote development and democracy in new
the African novel and African drama as a way of terms. The book thus provides an overview of
liberating the people and expressing their lives the new thinking that is emerging under different
in literature. socio-political circumstances.

The World: A Third World Guide Marshall Wolfe: Elusive Development


Montevideo: The Third World Institute London: Zed Books, 1996
(biennial) A critical overview of the policies and trends
A country-by-country compendium of history, emanating from post-war thinking and practice
society, and politics written from a range of in development, particularly at the inter-
Southern perspectives. It contains global and governmental level. Drawing on a long and
national maps with illustrated graphs and intimate knowledge of the UN system, and of
statistics, and in-depth description of key global competing influences upon it (scholarly,
issues such as childhood, women, food, health, political, and practical), the author dissects the
education, population, employment, habitat, myths and vague theories that 'development'
human welfare. has espoused. A valuable guide to the back-
ground behind concepts that still shape today's
Immanuel Wallerstein: After Liberalism
thinking; and a sceptical view of the doomed
New York: New Press, 1995
quest for a universal recipe for development.
Examines the process of disintegration of the
modern world-system following the dissolution
of the USSR, and speculates on the changes that
may occur during the next few decades. The Other resources
author argues that rather than this representing
ConvergencelConvergencia
the triumph of liberalism over communism,
Editor: Karen Yarmol-Franko
liberal reformism is also being rejected, because
Published quarterly by the International
its policies worsen rather than improve the
Council for Adult Education (ICAE)
economic situation of the majority of the
(ISSN:0010-8146)
population. He believes we are now entering
A global journal of adult education that
into a world 'after liberalism'. He explores the
addresses issues, practices and developments in
historical choices available and suggests paths
the broad field of adult and non-formal education;
for reconstructing the world-system on a more
reports on current developments; and acts as a
rational and equitable basis.
network for the 100 national, regional and
Ponna Wignaraja (ed.): New Social sectoral members of ICAE worldwide. Articles
Movements in the South: Empowering the People are published in English, French, and Spanish.
London: Zed Books, 1993
Cultures and Development
Papers by scholars from the UN University's Third
Editor: Thierry Verhelst
World and Development Project seeking
Published three times per year by the South-
alternatives to Western paradigms of develop-
North Network Cultures and Development
ment and democratic notions and institutions.
(ISSN: 1370-0057)
The book identifies various social movements
Focuses on the role of local cultures in social life
and people's responses to a range of crises and
and in 'development' in both South and North.
shows how such new responses also attempt to
Aims to present the Network's research projects
protect the South from penetration by external
and to be a guide to concepts and methods for
forces which further intensify these internal
social activists, development practitioners, and
tensions. Popular responses are taking the form
academics.
108 Development and Patronage

DAWN (Development Alternatives with ment and humanitarian relief. As a multi-


Women for a New Era) disciplinary journal of policy and practice,
A worldwide network of Southern feminist Development in Practice reflects a wide range of
thinkers and activists, involved in research, institutional and cultural backgrounds and a
training, communications, and publications as variety of professional expertise.
well as advocacy work from the grassroots to
international policy making. Its members
believe that feminism is about transformational Organisations
politics, and so must address all of the structures
of oppression and domination which shape El Taller is a global NGO think-tank concerned
women's lives, including racism, class, and to support people's initiatives aiming at
nationality. See Sen and Grown (1987) for an economic, political, and ideological empower-
account of DAWN's vision and purpose. ment of the disenfranchised towards reducing
dependence and promoting greater understanding
Development
between the people of the world. El Taller
Editor: Wendy Harcourt
organises workshops and other events and
Published quarterly by Sage on behalf of the
produces occasional publications.
Society for International Development
(ISSN 1011-6370) IRED (Innovations et re"seaux pour le
Aims to be a point of reference for the dialogue developpement) is a global network of indi-
between activists and intellectuals committed to viduals and organisations that aims to promote
the search for alternative paths of social trans- forms of local and global development which
formation towards a more sustainable and just answer people's needs and also foster their
world. In particular, it seeks to bring in local and participation in strengthening and demo-
innovative perspectives from the margins of the cratising civil society. It offers technical support
global development discourse; and to bring account- in thefieldsof management, training, alternative
ability, equity, and democracy to development. financing, and appropriate technology. IRED's
quarterly bulletin, IRED Forum, is available in
Development Dialogue
English, French, and Spanish.
Editors: Sven Hamrell and Olle Nordberg
Published twice-yearly (ISSN 0345-2328) People-Centred Development Forum is an
A journal of international development coopera- international alliance of individuals and organi-
tion published by the Dag Hammarskjold sations dedicated to the creation of just,
Foundation, within the framework of its inclusive, and sustainable human societies
seminars and conferences on the social, through voluntary citizen action. Its Founding
economic, legal and cultural issues facing the Director is David Korten, author of the
Third World. From the mid-1970s, it became a influential books Getting to the Twenty-first
vehicle for the 'Another Development' school of Century: Voluntary Action and the Global
thought associated with Marc Nerfin and Agenda (1990) and When Corporations Rule the
Manfred Max-Neef. It has since published a World (1995). The Forum's numerous infor-
number of influential guest-edited issues, for mation activities all reinforce and elaborate a
instance on the reform of the UN system. basic message that transformational change to
substantially reduce current levels of inequality
Development in Practice
and exploitation is not only possible, it has
Editor: Deborah Eade
become essential to human survival. For further
Published quarterly by Oxfam (UK and Ireland)
information and a list of publications see the
(ISSN 0961-4524)
Forum's website: http://iisdl.iisd.ca/pcdf/
A forum for practitioners, policy makers, and
academics to exchange information and analysis SID (Society for International Development) is
concerning the social dimensions of develop- an international network of academics, activists,
Annotated bibliography 109

NGOs and policy-makers with local Chapters in The Transnational Institute (TNI) was
40 countries and members in most nations. Its founded in 1973 to address the disparity between
overall purpose is to promote social changes that rich and poor peoples and nations of the world,
will create a world that is more people-centred, investigate its causes, and develop alternatives
sustainable, democratic, just, and inclusive. Its for its remedy. An independent fellowship of
two main aims are to catalyse civil society as a researchers and activists worldwide are working
means of defending rights and monitoring the in three main areas: global economy, peace and
actions of the state and the private sector; and to security, and democratisation. Recent publications
build bridges between the practice and theory of (all co-published with Pluto Press) include John
development. See also SID's quarterly journal, Cavanagh, Daphne Wysham and Marcos Arruda
Development. (eds): Beyond Bretton Woods: Alternatives to
the Global Economic Order, Susan George: The
South Centre is a new, permanent inter- Debt Boomerang: How Third World Debt Harms
govemment organisation of developing countries, Us All, Walden Bello et al:. Dark Victory: The
which grew out of the work of the South United States, Structural Adjustment and Global
Commission. In promoting Southern solidarity, Poverty; and David Sogge (ed): Compassion
South-South co-operation, and coordinated and Calculation: The Business of Private
participation by developing countries in Foreign Aid.
international forums, the South Centre has full
intellectual independence. It enjoys support and UNESCO promotes collaboration among
cooperation from the governments of Southern nations through education, science, culture, and
countries and is in regular working contact with communication. Its main goals are those of
the Non-Aligned Movement and the Group of universal basic education, and Education for the
77. The South Centre prepares and disseminates Twenty-First Century. UNESCO also sponsors
information (including a regular briefing, a wide range of programmes within the cultural
Southletter), analysis, and recommendations on sphere, such as the World Decade for Cultural
international economic, social and political Development (1988-1997), which has promoted
matters of concern to the South. research and exchange programmes geared to
enhance the recognition of the cultural and
The Third World Network is an international
environmental dimensions of development. The
network of organisations and individuals
report of the World Commission on Culture and
involved in issues relating to development,
Development, Our Creative Diversity, was pub-
Third World, and North-South affairs. Its
lished in 1995. UNESCO has a vast publishing
objectives are to conduct research on economic,
programme, including UNESCO Courier, a
social, and environmental issues pertaining to
the South; to organise and participate in monthly magazine on issues of topical interest
seminars; and to provide a platform representing produced in 36 languages and in Braille;
broadly Southern perspectives in international UNESCO Sources, a monthly update on the
forums. TWN publishes a wide range of books organisation's activities, also produced in five
as well as the daily SUNS (South-North languages and free of charge; and the annual
Development Monitor); Third World Economics; World Education Report and World Communi-
and the monthly magazine Third World cation Report. UNESCO hosts a website at:
Resurgence (an African edition, African Agenda, http://www .education .unesco .org/
is published by Africa Secretariat of TWN; and a
Spanish-language edition, Sur, is published by
the Third World Institute).
110 Development and Patronage

Addresses of publishers and Macmillan Press, Houndmills, Basingstoke


relevant organisations RG21 6XS, UK. Fax: 444 (1256) 842084.

Blackwell Publishers, 108 Cowley Road, Monthly Review Press, 122 West 27th Street,
Oxford 0X4 1JF, UK. Fax: 444 (1865) 791347. New York NY 10001, USA. Fax: 4-1 (212) 727
3676.
Marion Boyars Publishers,
24 Lacy Road, London SW15 1NL, UK. The New Press, 450 West 41st Street, New
Fax: 4-44 (181) 789 8122. York NY 10036, USA. Fax: 4-1 (212) 268 6349.

Carfax Publishing, PO Box 25, Abingdon Orbis Books, Box 302, NY 10545-0302,
0X14 3UE, UK. Fax: 4-44 (1235) 401550. USA. Fax: 4-1 (914) 941 7005.

James Currey Publishers, 73 Botley Road, OECD, 2 rue Andr6 Pascal, 75775 Paris,
Oxford OX2 OBS, UK. Fax: 4-44 (1865) Cedex 16, France. Fax: 4-33 (1) 452 47943.
246454. Oxfam Publications, Oxfam UK and Ireland,
Dag Hammarskjold Foundation, ovre 274 Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 7DZ, UK.
Slottsgarten 2,75220 Uppsala, Sweden. Fax: 4-44 (1865) 313925.

DAWN, c/o Women and Development Unit, Oxford University Press, Walton Street,
University of West Indies, School of Continuing Oxford OX2 6DP, UK. Fax: 444 (1865) 56646.
Studies, Pinelands, St Michael, Barbados, Penguin Books, Bath Road, Harmondsworth,
West Indies. Fax: 4-1 (809) 426 3006. Middlesex UB7 0DA, UK. Fax: 444 (181) 899
Earthscan Publications, 120 Pentonville 4099.
Road, London Nl 9JN, UK. Fax: 444 (171) People-Centred Development Forum, 14E
278 1142. 17th Street, Suite 5, New York NY 10003,
Heinemann Kenya, Kijabe Street, PO Box USA. Fax: +1 (212) 242 1901.
45314, Nairobi, Kenya. Pluto Press, 345 Archway Road, London N6
I. B. Tauris Publishers, Victoria House, 5AA, UK. Fax: 444 (181) 348 9133.
Bloomsbury Square, London WCIB 4DZ, UK. Princeton University Press, 41 William
Fax: 444 (171) 916 1068. Street, Princeton, New Jersey NJ 08540, USA.
IRED, 3 rue de Varembe, Case 116,1211 Fax: 4-1 (609) 258 6305.
Geneva 20, Switzerland. Fax: 441 (22) 740 0011. Routledge, 11 New Fetter Lane, London
Intermediate Technology Publications, EC4P 4EE, UK. Fax: 444 (171) 842 2302.
103-105 Southampton Row, London WCIB Sage Publications, 6 Bonhill Street, London
4HH, UK. Fax: 444 (171) 436 2013. EC2A 4PU, UK. Fax: 444 (171) 374 8741.
International Council for Adult Education, Society for International Development, 207
720 Bathurst Street, Toronto, Ontario M5S via Panisperna, 00184 Rome, Italy. Fax: 4-39
2R4, Canada. (6)487 2170.
International Development Research South Centre, Chemin du Champ-d'Anier 17,
Centre, 250 Albert Street, PO Box 8500, Case Postale 228,1211 Geneva 19, Switzerland.
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1G 3H9. Fax: 441 (22) 798 3433. Also South Centre,
International Institute for Sustainable PO Box 71000, Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania.
Development, 161 Portage Avenue, Fax: 4-255 (51) 46146.
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 0Y4, Canada. South-North Network Cultures and
Fax: 4-1 (204) 958 7710 Development, rue Joseph II straat 174,1000
Brussels, Belgium. Fax: 4-32 (2) 231 1413.
Ill

Southbound Sdn. Bhd., 9 College Square,


10250 Penang, Malaysia. Fax: +60 (4) 228 1758.
Third World Network, International
Secretariat, 228 Macallister Road, 10400
Penang, Malaysia. Fax: +60 (4) 226 4505.
Third World Network, Africa Secretariat, PO
Box 8604, Accra-North, Ghana. Fax: +233
(21) 773857.
Third World Institute (ITeM), Juan Jackson
1136,11200 Montevideo, Uruguay. Fax: +598
(2) 8 241 9222.
Trans-National Institute, Paulus Potterstraat
20,1071 DA Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Fax:+31 (20) 673 0179.
UNESCO, 7 place de Fontenoy, 75352 Paris
07 SP, France. Fax: +33 (1) 45 671 690.
UNESCO Publishing, Promotion and Sales
Division, 1 rue Miollis, F-75732 Paris Cedex
15, France.
UNRISD, Palais des Nations, 1211 Geneva
10, Switzerland. Fax: +41 (22) 740 0791.
UN University Press, Toho Shimei Building,
15-1 Shibuya 2-chome, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
150, Japan. Fax: +81 (3) 3406 7345.
Verso, 6 Meard Street, London Wl V 3HR,
UK. Fax:+4 (171) 734 0059.
Vintage Books, 20 Vauxhall Bridge Road,
London SW1X 2SA, UK. Fax: +44 (171) 263
6127.
Zed Books, 7 Cynthia Street, London Nl 9JF,
UK. Fax: +44 (171) 833 3960.