Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Transforming Development

Transforming Development: Foreign Aid for a Changing World

Edited by Jim Freedman
Copyright Date: 2000
Pages: 152
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Transforming Development
    Book Description:

    Foreign aid is now known more for its failures than its successes, leading to claims in academic and policy circles that foreign aid has outlived its usefulness. Instead of foreseeing the end of foreign, these essays show how it might be restored.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8274-0
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Introduction: Aid at the Forks
    (pp. 3-12)

    In another year, perhaps, the foreign affairs ministerʹs use of funds from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) to reward a Liberal Party worker with a bogus contract (Wood, 1995) might have slipped by unnoticed as pork belly politics, but the year was 1995, a turning point for development assistance in Canada. A federal budget had just reduced Canadaʹs foreign assistance by 20 per cent over three years. What might otherwise have been a politicianʹs discrete prerogative was in this instance a gaffe illustrative of the governmentʹs lack of interest in the integrity of foreign aid. Shortly after Minister Ouellet...

  5. Part One: The Canadian Context

    • [PART ONE Introduction]
      (pp. 13-14)

      Chapters 1 and 2 examine development assistance policies in Canada. They appear at the beginning in part because Canadian aid is the turf from which many of the contributors are writing but also because the broad range of inconsistencies that makes the Canadian tradition one of the most perplexing also provides a fine mirror for the perplexities of aid globally. Canadian aid traditionally has sought, ever so characteristically, to be everything to everyone. Each donor can find a piece of its own tradition in the Canadian experience and every scholarʹs special insight can find confirmation in Canadaʹs example.

      David Morrisonʹs...

    • 1 Canadian Aid: A Mixed Record and an Uncertain Future
      (pp. 15-36)

      The transfer of capital and expertise from industrial country donors to developing country recipients through official development assistance (ODA) has been a noble but flawed means of promoting economic and social development and overcoming global poverty. The enterprise has had to contend with colossal human and biophysical challenges and vastly unequal relations of wealth and power. In addition, donor governments have undermined the effectiveness of their foreign aid by pursuing multiple and often conflicting objectives – political and commercial as well as humanitarian. Aid agencies have also been buffeted by internal conflicts and organizational constraints, as well as by pressures...

    • 2 Alleviating Global Poverty or Enhancing Security: Competing Rationales for Canadian Development Assistance
      (pp. 37-60)

      Two sharply different rationales for foreign aid currently coexist uneasily in the literature on Canadian development assistance: humane internationalism and international realism.¹ Humane internationalism argues from essentially ethical premises, beginning with an acceptance that we have obligations towards those beyond our borders who are severely oppressed or who live in conditions of gross and unremitting poverty. International realism, in contrast, highlights the contribution that foreign aid makes to global common security, which it suggests is the key to Canadaʹs own security and prosperity.

      The contradiction between these rationales should not be dismissed as a distracting debate between alternative rhetorics. They...

  6. Part Two: Conditionality and Freedom

    • [PART TWO Introduction]
      (pp. 61-62)

      Structural adjustment schemes are the regimens of financial discipline that donor countries require recipient countries to accept as a condition of receiving assistance. The attention structural adjustment schemes have received makes them seem complex, but they are not; virtually all of the schemes employ the four Ds: devalue, decontrol, deflate, and denationalize (Lipton and Toye, 1990: 101). In practice, they amount to improving a governmentʹs resources through giving up less to domestic programs and gaining more in international trade. The logic, in most cases, has led recipient countries – those who have been willing to meet the disciplinary conditions –...

    • 3 International Trade as the Answer to World Poverty: Is Foreign Aid Obsolete?
      (pp. 63-81)

      One of the ideas emerging from the great attention paid in recent years to globalization and the information revolution is that, in this new era of opportunity, poor countries will have an unparalleled opportunity to grow out of poverty through international trade and foreign investment. Not only will such trade and investment help the countries as a whole, it will also raise the incomes of their poorer members. Apart from providing the greatest chance yet for these countries and people, trade and investment also renders foreign aid unnecessary and obsolete. To quote John Stackhouse in theGlobe and Mail(18...

    • 4 External Conditionality, Local Ownership, and Development
      (pp. 82-98)

      Any reasonable definition of development incorporates more than sheer improvement in per capita gross national product (GNP). In the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), emphasis is placed upon direct measures of human welfare such as infant mortality, literacy, and life expectancy. In earlier discussions of the meaning of development the focus was on employment, poverty alleviation, and equity in income distribution, with attention in some instances directed to ʹindependenceʹ and/or the degree to which ʹdependenceʹ was being reduced. Dependence/independence relates to national (or individual) freedom of choice and the self-respect and dignity associated with having it. In more recent discussions,...

  7. Part Three: Beyond Donor Agencies

    • [PART THREE Introduction]
      (pp. 99-100)

      State-based donor bureaucracies are too entangled in the vines of national interests to give much support to the creation of a different institutional vehicle, be it a supranational body or a version of a non-governmental organization (NGO), to coordinate the international development mission. But this is what must be done if development assistance is to survive. The present national agencies are too sluggish with the fatigue of fifty years and the welter of expectations they now shoulder to think beyond the current institutional vehicles of development assistance. Each of the following two chapters considers alternatives to the national bureaucracies that...

    • 5 The Death and Rebirth of International Economic Cooperation
      (pp. 101-113)

      Foreign aid as we have known it for fifty years is in rapid and probably terminal decline. Aid programs limped along for decades with donors reaching about half of the United Nationsʹ target of 0.7 per cent of gross national product (GNP), but with the end of the Cold War the political incentive for rich countries to assist the poor became much weaker and the frailty of the economic arguments justifying foreign aid became more widely acknowledged.¹ The combination of weak political incentives and unpersuasive economic arguments is likely to prove fatal.

      Indeed, starting in 1993, foreign aid programs have...

    • 6 NGOs: Crisis and Opportunity in the New World Order
      (pp. 114-134)

      The non-governmental organization (NGO) chapter in a wide-ranging book on development assistance traditionally begins with a lengthy definition of NGOs and then talks about numbers: 10,000 or possibly 12,000 Northern NGOs working in developing countries. From the South come travellersʹ tales of vast numbers of community-based organizations and informal village associations, with many hundreds of a more modern type of NGO springing up everywhere. The standard discussion might then slide sideways into consideration of whether the negative – ʹnonʹ (as in non-governmental) – is appropriate, testing one or two of the dozens of alternative names that have been floated over...

  8. Part Four: Foreign Assistance and Globalization

    • [PART FOUR Introduction]
      (pp. 135-136)

      Globalization brings immediately to mind the juggernauts of economic power, General Motors, Mitsubishi, and Sony, each with budgets many times that of Thailand. These are the merchants who have become lords in the unregulated and unmonitored world of the international market place, and everyone from Lagos to Goa is a subject, in one form or another, of these merchant kings. Everyone is touched by these product empires, whether they be fishermen or market women, rickshaw drivers or Tibetan monks, and their lives are the better or worse for them. What is not clear, however, is what these subject/lord relations mean,...

    • 7 Private Markets and Social Equity in a Post-Aid World
      (pp. 137-152)

      In February 1997, a much-noticed article appeared in theAtlantic Monthlyby billionaire financier George Soros, in which he declared that with the demise of communism, free markets are now the biggest threat to world stability.¹ Excessive individualism, too much competition, and too little cooperation, Soros contended, can cause intolerable inequities. In a trenchant critique of modern ʹlaissez-faire capitalism,ʹ including what he called the ʹrobber capitalismʹ of post-Soviet Russia, he went on to argue that markets are weakening traditional values of community and caring, thus undermining social and political stability as well. He also asserted the need for governments to...

    • 8 The Small, the Big, and the Ugly
      (pp. 153-168)

      There are very different perceptions about the relationship between local action and global economic forces.¹ At one extreme globalization is seen as a positive development which, by stripping away the dead hand of bureaucracy and the twisted hand of political corruption, allows local economic entrepreneurs and social activists to get on with building local economies on their own or in collaboration with external investors. This view of globalization also stresses the progressive benefits that local action, both economic and social, can achieve. Globalization, so runs the claim, expands the opportunity, the incentives, and the resources for local entrepreneurial and civic...

  9. Part Five: The Pay-offs of Social Capital

    • [PART FIVE Introduction]
      (pp. 169-172)

      Development assistance has obliged the social sciences to take the canonical ideas in economics and politics, geography and sociology off the shelf and put them into practice. In this way development assistance has given its disciplines an experimental ground to check its principles against a diversity of social realities. The experience has been a sobering one, as in many instances they have not worked terribly well.

      One lesson in particular stands out, and this has to do with the relative importance of economic and social capital in making economies grow. The question is whether the hard currency of physical infrastructure...

    • 9 Hard Pay-offs from Soft Resources: Transforming Irrigation System Performance in Sri Lanka
      (pp. 173-191)

      There is much about the enterprise of ʹdevelopmentʹ that is paradoxical, as Albert Hirschman has been fond of pointing out (e.g., 1963, 1967, 1984). Why should richer countries help poorer ones to advance economically and socially? This makes them stronger competitors in the world market, less easily exploitable. Yet by the magic of positive-sum processes, both can be better off as a result of the progress of the poor. When poorer countries, households, or individuals remain at lower levels of productivity, not only are they worse off but others are denied the benefits of whatever goods and services, ideas, technologies,...

    • 10 A Case for Equity
      (pp. 192-208)

      When an investment is made in an economy, the question of who gets what largely determines its consequences. Whether it amplifies the holdings of the well-to-do, the middle class, or the lower class makes a difference in its overall effect. An investment that narrows the income gap between the rich and the poor will also narrow the political divide separating the more and less powerful, and as political participation increases so will the economic confidence of those otherwise disenfranchised. Conversely, an investment that intensifies the differences between rich and poor is likely to stand in the way of democratization. It...

  10. Part Six: Democratizing Research

    • [PART SIX Introduction]
      (pp. 209-210)

      The remarkable success that the rhetoric of participatory development has enjoyed in academic and donor institutions is something of a Cinderella story. In 1964, Paulo Freire was imprisoned for advocating social transformation through collective research activities, and he was later exiled from his homeland in Brazil for fifteen years. The ideas that rendered him subversive differ only modestly from those in the numerous protocols that mainline donor agencies now hire consultants to write for them. The irony is inescapable. Only a generation later, Freireʹs rogue ideas as applied to social development have risen to such esteem that the mandarins, who...

    • 11 Social Research as an Agent of Social Transformation
      (pp. 211-221)

      On my first evaluation assignment in Colombia, I was surprised to discover that my sponsors had prepared business cards presenting me as a ʹspecialist in micro-projectsʹ when they knew perfectly well that I was an anthropologist. My professional identity henceforth became vaguely identified with that of an economist, confirming the domination of economics in the field of international development, as Escobar (1995) has observed. Apparently, the title ʹspecialist in social relationsʹ was unacceptable for an agency working in the field of savings and credit. And it goes without saying that ten years ago, it was still too soon to travel...

    • 12 Rethinking Participation, Empowerment, and Development from a Gender Perspective
      (pp. 222-234)

      Participation and empowerment are the current watchwords of such disparate institutions as the World Bank, Oxfam, and many small non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The expectations of this approach vary. Mainstream development agencies tend to look to participation for increased efficiency and productivity, for economic empowerment of the poor within the established structures of governance and order. More alternative development stresses the role of participatory empowerment techniques in social transformation. Yet both mainstream and alternative development institutions have found the methodologies and techniques of participatory rural appraisal (PRA) appropriate and useful. This chapter will explore the apparent contradiction of such widespread popularity...

  11. Part Seven: Food and Information

    • [PART SEVEN Introduction]
      (pp. 235-236)

      The focus in this book is on the broad issues of compassion, comparative advantage, globalization, equity, and conditionally rather than on specific projects in one continent or another, or specific sectors such as agriculture, energy, or the environment. These two final chapters constitute something of an exception, and this is because they deal with exceptional issues: the controversy that surrounds providing commodity food aid in emergency situations and the allure of telecommunications technology. When aid budgets are cut, debates rage between proponents and detractors over the need to preserve emergency assistance and when development fatigue seems to make even its...

    • 13 The Decline and Possible Redemption of Food Aid
      (pp. 237-254)

      Food aid has been a component of modern development assistance programs for almost fifty years. The United States included food aid in the Marshall Plan to Europe immediately following the Second World War and enacted the Agricultural Trade and Development Assistance Act (PL-480), which sends food aid to developing countries, in 1954. Canada sent its first food aid as part of the Colombo plan in 1951 and began a separate food aid program in 1964/5, a few years after the forming of the World Food Program (WFP), administered by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) 1961....

    • 14 Communications and Development: Challenges of the New Information and Communication Technologies
      (pp. 255-268)

      The image of a slum dweller and his family huddled around a small television screen in an urban hovel (or the Aboriginal family in the outback before a similar TV set) came and stayed on as a contemporary cliché for communications and development. Today, this image competes among several others: that of the street vendor in Hong Kong chattering on his cellular telephone; the guerrilla fighter in the hills of Chiapas with his laptop computer, lodging his demands against the government for all the World-Wide-Webbed world to hear; the Russian family enjoying the latest serial of the telenovela from Brazil;...

  12. Conclusion
    (pp. 269-274)

    Foreign aid is a common good in the political trade between states. It is no surprise that recent changes in the global arena have radically altered the way foreign aid is perceived. Presently, this arena is changing rapidly, from an orderly game between two large teams to a much less orderly free-for-all led by a state whose interests are unfailingly self-serving. The question here is whether this transition to a more liberal, U.S.-led economic environment will entail a decline in civic responsibility, as it has in the transition to market-led economies throughout the globe. If it does, then foreign aid...

  13. References
    (pp. 275-290)
  14. Contributors
    (pp. 291-296)