20. Aid Policy and Practice: Past and Current Experiences

E-mail of panel organisers: gudrunv@hi.is, sib30@hi.is

Since Truman’s speech in 1947 foreign aid has been debated. What is it good for? How should it be implemented? Is it effective? During the 1950s and 1960s, modernization, dual economy, big push or balanced growth were central concepts, and development was understood as a series of stages of economic growth. In the 1970s, basic needs substituted, at least partly, growth as the central aim of aid. The theory of structural change and the dependency school both aimed for eradication of poverty. In the early 1980s and into the 1990s neoliberal politics flourished with emphasis on structural adjustment, including free markets, privatization and crumbling of the state. The 1990s, characterized by aid fatigue had its turning point when the World Bank report Assessing Aid announced that aid was only effective in countries with reasonably good governance. Since then global approaches such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the Paris Declaration and the recycled version of the Alma Ata Declaration have put their marks on aid practices. Mosse (2004) argues that when it comes to policy there is too much focus on the future and new beginnings instead of analyzing the past in development.

The aim of this panel is to explore past and current aid practices at global and local level. What have we learned from past experience? How can future policy and approaches benefit from the past? For whom are actual development policies and practices designed? Are development practices driven by policies or is it practice that produces policy? How are they formulated and acted out by community members as well as national and international actors?


1. The MDGs and the post-2015 development agenda: the case of Senegal

Author: Guðrún Helga Jóhannsdóttir (University of Iceland)


The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have, for the past decade and a half, offered a frame for action to fight poverty. The goals are coming to an end in 2015 and an overall global consultancy, the post-2015 development agenda, has been set out to design what should come next. Within the agenda, that is taking place at all levels of the society, academics, practitioners and citizens alike are sharing their views on the world they want after 2015, based on their experience as practitioners of development aid and/or inhabitants of development countries.
The aim of this paper is to explore the post-2015 development agenda. The paper examines the policy making process of the new agenda and analyses the different results leading to a new development framework for post 2015, both globally and in Senegal.
The paper is based on fieldwork in Senegal and New York over a total of 12 month period between 2011 and 2013 including four months of participant observation at UNDP Senegal during the Senegalese consultations for the post-2015 development agenda. Methods used were semi-structured interviews and participant observations.
The study shows that despite confusing and complicated consultations for a new post-2015 development framework, the major emphasis is still on the eight basic MDGs with some additions and improvements. It shows that a desired destination has already been mapped out but the means and knowledge on how to get there are lacking. It further shows different opinions between practitioners in Senegal and New York on what the post-2015 framework should look like.
The study is a contribution to theories on ethnography of aid and the process of international policy making for development.  It is also an input into the post-2015 development agenda debate.


Authors: Jon Geir Petursson, Paul Vedeld and Connor Cavanagh (Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Norway)


What is the impact of aid when setting the conservation agenda and re-crafting institutions for protected area governance in Africa, especially on local people?
Donor driven integrated conservation and development projects have been introduced to most protected areas in East Africa since 1980s. This paper examines how donor agencies with their interests and multiple powers have influenced institutional changes in PA governance in the case of Mount Elgon National Park in Uganda. More the two million people live in its densely populated surroundings, mostly consisting of small scale farmers that derive their livelihoods from the natural resource base.
Different donor agencies have supported a range of environmental and development projects im Mount Elgon National Park last decades. After seizing power in 1986, the still ruling Museveni government quickly became “darling” to the international donor community. It created conducive environment for influential international conservation actors that could employ financial powers to influence policies in Uganda. The paper outlines key narratives and policies shaping/being shaped by conservation donors influencing PA governance. Employing institutional analytical tools, it examines how different aid projects have manifested on-ground and influenced local community livelihoods.
Aid driven institutional change is strongly guided by the legacies of the past, the existing institutional arrangements that shape current decision making, known as path dependency. In this sense, institutional configuration/re-configuration constitutes an historical process of successive decisions and policies that have evolved over time and that continue to shape current arrangement. As the study shows, donors comes and goes - Mount Elgon National Park has seen it all!         
We discuss what we have learned from past experience of conservation aid projects on Elgon and how future policy and approaches can be guided by the past experience. 

3. What informed Ethiopia’s Climate Resilient Green Economy Strategy?

Author: Lutgart Lenaerts (Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Norway)


Ethiopia’s Climate Resilient Green Economy Strategy (CRGES) is praised by many for being a new model of development that incorporates economic development and growth, mitigation of greenhouse gases, and adaptation to climate change. But three years after its launch in 2011, the novelty of the development model proposed in the CRGES is questioned and debated.
In this article, I analyse what informed the approaches of the CRGES policy documents and practices; or – to use Keeley and Scoones’ terms, what are the knowledge, power and politics in the environmental policy-making process in Ethiopia  today (Keeley & Scoones, 2011)?
Through analysis of key documents and interviews with policy makers and development practitioners, I try to answer the question if and how the CRGES discourse differs from previous policy discourses. Through actor-oriented case studies, I try to shed new light on the debate about if and how the CRGES policy documents are translated into novel development practices on the ground.

4. Poverty and dispossession in times of unprecedented economic growth: Lessons learned from Luanda´s post-conflict reconstruction and urban development

Author: Pétur Waldorff (University of Iceland)


This paper talks of Angola´s post-conflict development path during an era of unprecedented economic growth in the country. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in 2009-2010, the paper discusses the contrasting „realities“ presented, for example, in Angola´s state run media, and in world economic news, focusing on economic growth and GDP figures, on the one hand, and the reality found on the ground during my empirical research in Luanda´s informal neighbourhoods, on the other hand.
Development projects often look good on paper but fail in reality, a common theme in debates on development. Urban development in Luanda has resulted in forced evictions of people from prime building land in central areas of the city, and in the relocation of the city´s informal inhabitants and neighbourhoods. The government´s focus has been on the visually noticeable urban development of the “concrete city” while the “social side” of its policies has been of less importance. Others who are not evicted or directly relocated to the peripheries of the city are moving there from the pressures of rising costs of housing and rising rental fees.
The paper tries to position Angola´s post-conflict development within development theory and literature. It ponders whether Angola´s post-conflict experience is an example of new trends in development, in a world where geopolitical power and influence has been shifting. In the context of theories and trends in development (the theme of the panel), the paper calls for a turn from strictly economically focused approaches, focusing on Angola´s GDP figures and economic growth, with assumptions that the wealth accumulating in the upper tiers of Angola´s political elite, trickles down to those below, towards an approach focusing on the realities on the ground. That is, instead of the glossy “virtual realities” propagated by world economic news and Angola´s regime.

5. Policy and practice: Revitalization of primary health care in rural Guinea-Bissau

Author: Sigríður Baldursdóttir (University of Iceland)


In recent years there has been an increased interest in revitalizing the Alma Ata Declaration on primary health care (PHC) from 1978 to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. This interest has been evident in Guinea-Bissau; a country where the health policy has been under the influence of Alma Ata since it was first declared. Initially the implementation of PHC went well, but by 2010 it had started to deteriorate and a new community health policy was elaborated. The new policy stated that CHWs should be literate and that each CHW should be responsible for 50 households where he/she would implement sixteen family practices focusing on maternal and child health. For this work they were to receive monetary incentives. However, the policy did not include traditional birth attendants (TBAs) who played an important role in the past.
This paper explores the elaboration of the new community health policy in Guinea-Bissau and the implementation process that followed. The data is based on 20 months of anthropological fieldwork in Guinea-Bissau between 2009 and 2012. Participant observation was done at stakeholder meetings at the Ministry of Health (MoH) and interviews were conducted with a variety of stakeholders.
The study shows that when elaborating the new policy the MoH emphasised the importance of learning from the past and use the experience of an ongoing international PHC research project. The implementation of the policy started with the selection of new CHWs. The selection process was complex and the guidelines of the policy were not always followed. The selection also led to certain tensions as older illiterate CHWs were excluded together with the TBAs. This paper argues that for community health care to be sustainable it needs to learn from the lessons of the past regarding the importance of continuous training, supervision and motivation.


Authors: Elazar Tadesse, Pia Olsson, Eva-Charlotte Ekström (Uppsala University, Sweden), Yemane Berhane (Addis Continental Institute of Public Health, Ethiopia) and Anders Hjern (Karolinska Institutet and Centre for Health Equity Studies, Stockholm, Sweden)


Background and objective: Community-based Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) programs relying on Ready-to-Use-Therapeutic Foods (RUTF) has been scaled-up and integrated into existing health systems as a treatment for Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) in children. This study aimed at examining perceptions of usage of RUTF for management of uncomplicated SAM cases in a chronically food insecure area in South Ethiopia. Methods: Qualitative study using focus group discussions and individual interviews with caregivers of SAM children and Community Health Workers. Audio recordings were transcribed and translated and complemented with data from field notes before qualitative content analysis was applied.
Results: RUTF was perceived as an effective treatment of SAM but also as a food to be shared and a commodity to be sold for collective benefits of the household. Caregivers expected a continuous provision of RUTF similar to food aid programs while the CMAM guidelines prescribed it for shorter periods. Caregivers’ strive for continuous access to RUTF resulted in authoritative control measures by the community health workers that in turn resulted in inventive counteractions by the caregivers.
Conclusions: RUTF were not only used as treatment for SAM but also for meeting broader food and economic needs that may limit the effectiveness of CMAM program. The difference in perspective between caregivers and programme on how RUTF should be used; for the family or for the individual SAM child created difficulties ultimately risking the recovery of the SAM child and causing tension between stakeholders. Comprehensive interventions that address the food and economic needs of poor household have larger potential to reduce unintended use of RUTF and its adverse consequences. The complexity of CMAM programs calls for increased efforts in implementing interventions aiming to prevent SAM from arising.

7. Whose results? Whose ownership? - Swedish policy on development cooperation and the increased demand for results

Author: Therese Brolin (University of Gothenburg, sweden)


Over the last decade the focus on results has increased within the international development cooperation, leading to a stronger demand for accountability and aid effectiveness. Although many development actors, both donors and development partners (i.e. countries and organizations receiving aid) agree on the necessity of an increased demand for results, it has also rendered criticism for being donor driven and for changing the relations between donor and development partners; from a development cooperation owned and driven by development partners towards one where the results of the development cooperation should be measured against, and attributed to, donor countries development objectives and aid agendas.
The increased focus on results has thus raised a number of questions related to ownership and accountability: Whose results are asked for and for what reasons? Who is setting the development agenda, and based on what? Is it the goals and objectives of the development partner, or is it the donors’ demand for development results?
Sweden’s relations with developing countries have historically been characterized by a strong belief in supporting development partners in their efforts to improve the lives for poor men and women, where mutual accountability and development partner ownership have been emphasized. This relation is now contested by the demand for results, which has become a top priority in Swedish development cooperation. With example from Swedish development cooperation and Swedish aid relations with Uganda, this paper explores how the Swedish relations with development partners have changed with the increased demand for results.

8. Comparison of Political Development in Two Atlantic Island States; Cabo Verde and Iceland

Author: Sigridur Duna Kristmundsdottir (University of Iceland)


The paper compares the political history and development towards democracy and sovereignty of two Atlantic island-states; Cabo Verde and Iceland. Cabo Verde was a colony of Portugal from around 1640 until independence in 1975 and Iceland a dependency/colony of Denmark from around 1525 until home-rule in 1918 and sovereignty in 1944. One was an African slave colony and the other a Nordic and through the ages a mostly literate society. At first glance it might seem that these two island states did not have very much in common but it is argued that within the framework of colonial domination their political history shares a number of similarities.
As well as discussing the political development of these Atlantic island territories the paper reflects upon their geography, names, population and cultural development. The issue of what is a colony is considered and the two countries fight for independence, about a hundred years apart, is placed within the context of ideological and political movements of the time. Finally, the emergence of national leaders as symbols of independence and national unity is dicussed.

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