Development projects: Quest for measures to validate success

Most development works are done in some form of projects and these projects have goals and objectives in which every effort is given to achieve them. Today’s reading highlight Impact Evaluation (IE) as one of the best methods to measure the success of the project; however, the method itself lacks other aspects to capture greater details to find causality effect on the ground and the need to find real measure and data still posing a challenge in development.

While the challenge remains, there is wide agreement that both funders and project implementers have role to play in order to achieve the intended goals. For example it is clear that to attain a meaningful economic growth in poor countries does not have one solution that can be addressed by structural adjustment that IMF and the World Bank promote. Although this has positive aspects but high level of understanding needs to be reached before signing such agreement as Easterly 2007 point out that it is better that other countries should not be beneficiaries of IMF loans because of their weak government/institutions. This is to protect them from falling into ‘structural adjustment trap’ as it is now a fact that once a poor country engages structural adjustment program it never seem to come out of it. This is where both parties have to play their roles to make sure the deal is fair and instructional components will be implemented without compromise. In addition, the IMF or the World Bank should put a mechanism that will help to reinforce the implementation of the reforms or otherwise the loan should be withdrawn from the country and not giving them another loan because that is taking advantage of desperation situation of the poor country.

Although it seems hopeless to have real changes on the ground, the development practitioners will still work with the tools that are available. In this case, ‘transparency’ is the key to come up the meaningful measures for the projects to succeed. When both parties have to know what is expected and see that they are happy and committed to work hard for the program, the chances of success such scenario is quite high.

As it is at the moment, there is more to be done to say ‘yes’ meaning, the development projects are working, however, the little changes that are happening means something is contributing to it and both parties can work together identify what is contributing to that change and promote it to the context that it favors.

 

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Use and Politics of Foreign Aid

It is interesting and at the same time challenging task to be in a position to make recommendations to a country as regarding to the use of foreign aid. However, the readings have highlighted important issues that would work as guidelines when considering the situation of the country on aid especially those from the Global South where aid is in constant flowing but it does not seem to make much difference. With such background, it is crucial to understand that donors believe the fact that aid would be efficient in the hands on committed leaders who are willing to apply sound policies in their institutions to help facilitate well defined programs.

There are a number of rich countries, donor agencies and private foundation where Global South countries can draw aid from. Other rich countries are already well established donors in some countries because of their colonial ties they have. They maintain aid as long as the country maintains sound leadership and respecting human rights (Good Governance) etc. Such donors mostly use budget support system or other strategic areas (WSAP) to help government operations, UK and France are some good examples.

Global South countries should know how to play diplomatic relations well especially aligning themselves with interest or policies of the donor’s countries such as trade, peace and security as well as UN vote which is very important to those counties to maintain their interest on the global stage and in return they receive aid without much scrutiny. US, Japan are among donor who would want Global South countries to support their interests on the global stage.

It is important to advise these countries to get to know the vision or motivation of all the donors that are willing to give them aid. Any aid that has strings attached particularly those donors who want to advance their own agendas it becomes problematic in so many aspects including political or cultural stand if they want you to support or implement policies which you don’t want. Such type of aid is the one making foreign aid to look like is not working because most countries end up not fulfilling the conditions.

As it is reality that other big donors are not concerned with economic growth of poor countries, I would suggest for the country to work on what matters first to make their economy grow with those who are willing to support without conditions attached. When economy starts growing, obviously, it is not difficult to get more aid especially from private agencies that have business interest. Getting loans becomes easy because the economy assures them that the loan will be repaid. So, it is good to deal with donors who would support country’s developmental agenda without demanding unnecessary things.

Cultural Beliefs and Development

It is factual that what people believe in, will be manifested in their actions in various dimension. In other words, the foundation of people’s actions lays beliefs; hence development or economic growth is largely affected by culture and beliefs.

David S Landes and Josiah Ober gave comparative examples on how culture can be pro or anti-development. Landes in his article titled, ‘Why Europe and not the West? Why not China?’ presence classical anti-development case whereby China found itself in a cocoon of cultural beliefs that prevented it from economic growth despite that it had important science and technological innovations earlier than Europe had. In around thirteenth century, China had already innovated power-driven spinning machines, this is 500 years earlier that Britain. Chinese people had a chance to learn other technological innovations from British themselves at a later stage but China choose a closed culture which was promoted by their supreme leaders for their personal gains.  They even imposed such odd laws that prohibited social mobility and in return created non receptive culture on imported goods including technology which could help to improve their own.  Lack of freedom in China robbed innovative spirit among its people and even their own earlier technology were forgotten and China failed to learn and emulate others and it found itself in regression path of development.

Conversely, Josiah Ober (2015), presence a different case ‘Greece.’ Whereby fair rules or egalitarian institution created fair playing ground for most elements of development. The most striking idea is access to information to majority and lower levels of inequality. This created a culture of learning and innovation. People were not afraid of investing because they were assured that they were not going to be exploited by their own regime. Freedom was granted to learn and pursue their interest and in such condition of life, economic growth was realized.

Despite that geography can also play an important role in diffusion of various development elements, but comparing the two examples with the global south where most people live in extreme poverty, China provides several features which can be identified in many impoverished countries today. Leaders still hang on in power just for their own gains.  They create an environment where people believe that they cannot get certain services without some form of corruption. In such countries people have been robbed of their creativity and there is not much investment happening because of so much exploitation. The belief that girl education is a waste of resources has created high illiteracy levels across many cultures in global south today; therefore, hindering diffusion of knowledge necessary for development. The most painful thing is that most people have compelling ideas for development but their actions reveal that they fail to transform from within.

 

Reference;

Jared Diamod (1999), Guns, Germs, and Steel, pp. 157-91

David S Landes (2006), ‘Why Europe and the West? Why Not China?’’ The Journal of Economic Perspective, 20: 2, pp.3-22

Josiah Ober (2015), The Rise and Fall of Classical Greece (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press), pp. 101-122

Why Some Countries Remain Poor: The Lesson of a Single Farm Household, Can Foreign Aid Save Them?

The main lesson from single farm household is ‘careful resource management and investment can lead to economic growth.’ The choices that governments make in regard to national resources matters hence political will in development plays a very significant role. The national’s natural resources and its people/labor force are original solution to their poverty. The single farm household just decided to save out of the little they produced; this should teach us how prudence governments should be.

Now, in quest to understand on why some nations remain poor even with Sachs’ notion that says, ‘When poverty is extreme, the poor do not have the ability-by themselves-to get out of the mess.’ It is a fallacy to believe that in extreme poverty the nation cannot save itself. However, natural disasters are inevitable such as prolonged drought which unfortunately, most of the impoverished countries are associated due to their geographical position. In this regard such countries have multiple problems including poor soils for agriculture, landlocked nations etc. But these can be worked around with proper technology and physical investments.

Foreign aid has two aspects: First, rich countries including US have tried their best in helping the economies of poor countries to takeoff, even now are still helping using what is called ‘financing gap approach’ but the poor nations are still stack in their poverty. There are common traits across most poor countries especially in Africa: First, poor leadership which led to creation and implementation of bad policies in different economic aspects such trade, fiscal discipline, governance and other strategic areas. Second, most countries seemed to be deep routed in mismanagement of public resources and corruption is the order of the day. In so doing they do not utilize the highly skilled labor force available hence the progress is hindered. So even if foreign aid comes, it does not reach the intended beneficiaries.

Another aspect is with donors themselves. The political will should be exercised when the donor’s wants to deal decisively with problems the poor countries are facing. A good example Sachs points Malawi in dealing with HIV/AIDS during Malewezi when he was the vice president of the country. If the donors really wanted to stop spread of epidemic they would have increased funding. Many lives could have been saved that would have contributed to economic growth of the country.

 

Reference:

Jeffery Sachs (2005), The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time, Chapter 1-3

William Easterly (2001), The Elusive Quest for Growth, pp.25-44

Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabbarok, Introduction to the Solow Model (video, five parts): No Math Introduction, Geography and Development 1

Abhijit V. Benerjee and Esther Duflo (2007), ‘The Economic Lives of the Poor,’ The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 21:1, pp.141-168