Advertisements
jump to navigation

IRIN: Securitising Africa’s borders is bad for migrants, democracy, and development July 6, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , , , , ,
add a comment


 

Legitimised by a language of sovereignty, greater border controls are part of an emerging containment era in which Africans’ movements – not only towards Europe but even across the continent – are becoming pathologised and criminalised. There are continental variations. Some countries and sub-regions are less committed to control than others, but so-called containment development is undeniably on the rise. In this new developmental mode, success is measured primarily by the ability to keep people at home. 

Critics of this approach focus heavily and justifiably on the migrants condemned to camps and detention centres, and the growing numbers who die before reaching their destination. Others note the extraordinary growth in a range of unsavoury professions: smuggling, kidnapping, and trafficking. Although often tinged with an alarmism driven by moral outrage or professional interest, these stories of exploited people and extinguished lives need to be told.

Yet focusing exclusively on the migrant victims of new containment technologies and practices, risks overlooking their implications for the continent’s governance and all Africans’ human rights. At the very least, the kind of bilateral arrangements various African countries are signing with the EU will scupper African Union plans to promote easier and safer movement within the continent. They will similarly curtail free movement policy proposals circulating within sub-regional economic communities.

In place of multilateralism, we are likely to get stronger militaries and more authoritarian leaders. Indeed, directing aid and weapons to existing leadership in the region will almost certainly erode democracy and heighten insecurity and instability.

The EU’s new migration-linked development aid emphasises the need to create local opportunities so people need never move. The results are likely to be increased investment in rural areas. While not in itself a bad thing, such spending will be distorted by the desire to fix people in place. African leaders may care little about migration towards Europe, but under these new agreements they risk losing aid money if they fail to control populations within their borders. And ongoing urbanisation can also present a political challenge to their power. Maintaining people in situ – not only within their countries but within “primordial” rural communities – helps maintain systems of ethnic patronage and prevents unruly urbanites from protesting at the presidential gates.

Securitised border management of the kind South Africa is mooting is a gateway to the kind of containment strategies the EU is promoting.  Within this new paradigm, millions will be detained in facilities across Africa or condemned to die along land and water borders. Smuggling, trafficking, and corruption will blossom in place of trade that could increase prosperity. Overseeing this will be politicians empowered by military aid windfalls and a global community without the moral authority to condemn their human rights abuses.

The vast majority of Africans who have no European fantasies will live in decreasingly democratic countries. The African Union and regional campaigns promoting development through accountable institutions and freer movement will also likely lead nowhere. The results – heightened inequality within and between countries, along with increased poverty and likelihood of conflict – will create precisely the pressures to migrate that Europe hopes to contain. – IRIN News

Loren B. Landau

Professor at the African Centre for Migration & Society, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

Caroline Kihato

Associate professor at the Graduate School of Architecture at the University of Johannesburg


South Africa’s National Assembly recently passed a bill to set up a new border management agency. The Border Management Authority will fall under Home Affairs, a government department long distinguished by its lack of respect for immigrant and refugee rights. But there are other, deeper causes for concern.

Whereas previously, police and customs officers were under strict (if not always effective) civilian oversight, this new agency will be able to circumvent constitutional constraints. Broader changes to immigration and asylum policies are also in the works, such as a “risk-based” vetting system that could be used to justify barring most people from entering the country overland. Bolstering these efforts are plans to detain asylum seekers at processing centres dotted along the border.

South Africa’s new border management strategy has equivalents across the continent that likely do little to prevent smuggling and human trafficking or to stop terrorism – the justifications often used for such securitisation. Instead, they help reinforce authoritarian leadership and undermine regional governance initiatives. In the longer term, they are likely to impact development.

Free movement – within countries or to neighbouring areas – is central to people finding work and surviving in these precarious times. Constraints on such movement, whatever the source, are fundamentally anti-poor and anti-freedom. They treat migrants as suspected criminals, rather than as people legitimately seeking protection or employment. Many of these policies are being implemented with aid from the European Union and strong domestic support. Countries like Eritrea already maintain a repressive “exit visa” system while Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Niger, and Sudan are all planning enhanced border management strategies, including bio-metric tracking and militarisation.

Containment era

Militarising the margins has become an integral plank in the continent’s new approach to “migration management”. Following the Valletta Summit in late 2015, the EU created a trust fund that is funnelling billions of euros of development aid through bilateral arrangements with African states, including those with appalling human rights records, such as Sudan and Eritrea. Legitimised by a language of sovereignty, greater border controls are part of an emerging containment era in which Africans’ movements – not only towards Europe but even across the continent – are becoming pathologised and criminalised. There are continental variations. Some countries and sub-regions are less committed to control than others, but so-called containment development is undeniably on the rise. In this new developmental mode, success is measured primarily by the ability to keep people at home.

Critics of this approach focus heavily and justifiably on the migrants condemned to camps and detention centres, and the growing numbers who die before reaching their destination. Others note the extraordinary growth in a range of unsavoury professions: smuggling, kidnapping, and trafficking. Although often tinged with an alarmism driven by moral outrage or professional interest, these stories of exploited people and extinguished lives need to be told.

Yet focusing exclusively on the migrant victims of new containment technologies and practices, risks overlooking their implications for the continent’s governance and all Africans’ human rights. At the very least, the kind of bilateral arrangements various African countries are signing with the EU will scupper African Union plans to promote easier and safer movement within the continent. They will similarly curtail free movement policy proposals circulating within sub-regional economic communities.

While the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), already has a working protocol, it has been compromised by fears of terrorism and EU-funded programmes to deter migration through the region. In the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the East African Community (EAC), proposals modelled on the ECOWAS framework are now less likely to move forward. This domesticates politics in ways that weaken the regional governance mechanisms needed to address collective development concerns and negotiate more favourable global trade positions. In place of multilateralism, we are likely to get stronger militaries and more authoritarian leaders. Indeed, directing aid and weapons to existing leadership in the region will almost certainly erode democracy and heighten insecurity and instability.

Growth industry

What is perhaps most worrying is how emergent border management approaches are likely to extend and proliferate beyond borders. Efforts promoted by the EU, with complicity from many African leaders, effectively seek to limit movement and freedom across and within countries. Europe fears that any movement – typically towards cities – will beget further moves, some of which will be towards the European motherland.

The EU’s new migration-linked development aid emphasises the need to create local opportunities so people need never move. The results are likely to be increased investment in rural areas. While not in itself a bad thing, such spending will be distorted by the desire to fix people in place. African leaders may care little about migration towards Europe, but under these new agreements they risk losing aid money if they fail to control populations within their borders. And ongoing urbanisation can also present a political challenge to their power. Maintaining people in situ – not only within their countries but within “primordial” rural communities – helps maintain systems of ethnic patronage and prevents unruly urbanites from protesting at the presidential gates.

Securitised border management of the kind South Africa is mooting is a gateway to the kind of containment strategies the EU is promoting.  Within this new paradigm, millions will be detained in facilities across Africa or condemned to die along land and water borders. Smuggling, trafficking, and corruption will blossom in place of trade that could increase prosperity. Overseeing this will be politicians empowered by military aid windfalls and a global community without the moral authority to condemn their human rights abuses.

The vast majority of Africans who have no European fantasies will live in decreasingly democratic countries. The African Union and regional campaigns promoting development through accountable institutions and freer movement will also likely lead nowhere. The results – heightened inequality within and between countries, along with increased poverty and likelihood of conflict – will create precisely the pressures to migrate that Europe hopes to contain.

(TOP PHOTO: South African soldiers apprehend irregular migrants from Zimbabwe. Guy Oliver/IRIN)

ll-ck/ks/ag


 

Advertisements

Aid: World is plundering Africa’s wealth of ‘billions of dollars a year’ May 25, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, Africa and debt.
Tags: , , , , , ,
add a comment


African countries received $162bn in 2015, mainly in loans, aid and personal remittances. But in the same year, $203bn was taken from the continent, either directly through multinationals repatriating profits and illegally moving money into tax havens, or by costs imposed by the rest of the world through climate change adaptation and mitigation. This led to an annual financial deficit of $41.3bn from the 47 African countries where many people remain trapped in poverty. – Honest Accounts 2017.

World is plundering Africa’s wealth of ‘billions of dollars a year’

Research by campaigners claims aid and loans to the continent are outweighed by financial flows to tax havens and costs of climate change mitigation

The headquarters of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
The headquarters of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Campaigners said illicit financial flows account for $68bn a year. Photograph: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

More wealth leaves Africa every year than enters it – by more than $40bn (£31bn) – according to research that challenges “misleading” perceptions of foreign aid.

Analysis by a coalition of UK and African equality and development campaigners including Global Justice Now, published on Wednesday, claims the rest of the world is profiting more than most African citizens from the continent’s wealth.

It said African countries received $162bn in 2015, mainly in loans, aid and personal remittances. But in the same year, $203bn was taken from the continent, either directly through multinationals repatriating profits and illegally moving money into tax havens, or by costs imposed by the rest of the world through climate change adaptation and mitigation.

This led to an annual financial deficit of $41.3bn from the 47 African countries where many people remain trapped in poverty, according to the report, Honest Accounts 2017.

The campaigners said illicit financial flows, defined as the illegal movement of cash between countries, account for $68bn a year, three times as much as the $19bn Africa receives in aid.

Tim Jones, an economist from the Jubilee Debt Campaign, said: “The key message we want to get across is that more money flows out of Africa than goes in, and if we are to address poverty and income inequality we have to help to get it back.”

The key factors contributing to this inequality include unjust debt payments and multinational companies hiding proceeds through tax avoidance and corruption, he said.

African governments received $32bn in loans in 2015, but paid more than half of that – $18bn – in debt interest, with the level of debt rising rapidly.

The prevailing narrative, where rich country governments say their foreign aid is helping Africa, is “a distraction and misleading”, the campaigners said.

Aisha Dodwell, a campaigner for Global Justice Now, said: “There’s such a powerful narrative in western societies that Africa is poor and that it needs our help. This research shows that what African countries really need is for the rest of the world to stop systematically looting them. While the form of colonial plunder may have changed over time, its basic nature remains unchanged.”

The report points out that Africa has considerable riches. South Africa’s potential mineral wealth is estimated to be around $2.5tn, while the mineral reserves of the Democratic Republic of the Congo are thought to be worth $24tn.

However, the continent’s natural resources are owned and exploited by foreign, private corporations, the report said.

Bernard Adaba, policy analyst with Isodec (Integrated Social Development Centre) in Ghana said: “Development is a lost cause in Africa while we are haemorrhaging billions every year to extractive industries, western tax havens and illegal logging and fishing. Some serious structural changes need to be made to promote economic policies that enable African countries to best serve the needs of their people, rather than simply being cash cows for western corporations and governments. The bleeding of Africa must stop!”

However, Maya Forstater, a visiting fellow for the Centre for Global Development, a development thinktank, said the report did not provide a meaningful look at the issues.

Forstater said: “There are 1.2 billion people in Africa. This report seems to view these people and their institutions as an inert bucket into which money is poured or stolen away, rather than as part of dynamic and growing economies. The $41bn headline they come up with needs to be put into context that the overall GDP of Africa is some $7.7tn. Economies do not grow by stockpiling inflows and preventing outflows but by enabling people to invest and learn, adapt technologies and access markets.

“Some of the issues that the report raises – such as illegal logging, fishing and the cost of adapting to climate change – are important, but adding together all apparent inflows and outflows is meaningless.”

Forstater also questioned some of the report’s methodology.

The coalition of campaigners, including Jubilee Debt Campaign, Health Poverty Action, and Uganda Debt Network, said those claiming to help Africa “need to rethink their role”, and singled out the British government as bearing special responsibility because of its position as the head of a network of overseas tax havens.

Dr Jason Hickel, an economic anthropologist at the London School of Economics, commenting on the report, agreed that the prevailing view of foreign aid was skewed. Hickel said: “One of the many problems with the aid narrative is it leads the public to believe that rich countries are helping developing countries, but that narrative skews the often extractive relationship that exists between rich and poor countries.”

A key issue, he said, was illicit financial flows, via multinational corporations, to overseas tax havens. “Britain has a direct responsibility to fix the problem if they want to claim to care about international poverty at all,” he said.

The report makes a series of recommendations, including preventing companies with subsidiaries based in tax havens from operations in African countries, transforming aid into a process that genuinely benefits the continent, and reconfiguring aid from a system of voluntary donations to one of repatriation for damage caused.


 

The inconvenient truth about foreign aid: The aid system colludes in redistributing wealth from poorer to richer. Under an aura of beneficence, aid is harnessed to self-interest. February 9, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , , ,
add a comment

Odaa OromooOromianEconomist

The inconvenient truth about foreign aid

For recipients aid has been a very mixed blessing, but for donors it’s been a bonanza.

Credit: Flickr/DFID. Some rights reserved.

It’s astonishing when you think about it. Why should an old and poorly-performing industry carry on, burdened with even more tasks, and provided with yet more money? I’m talking about foreign aid, whose mixed results have been reconfirmed countless times in the last 70 years.

For aid’s backers, such skepticism is unfair or at best premature. Successes, from combating diseases to promoting the ‘green revolution,’ are held as self-evident. With new, smarter policy formulas and management focused on results, failure is soon going to be minimized. Across most of the Left-Right spectrum, aid still enjoys political backing. Western spending continues largely upward. New aid donors from Turkey to Thailand are joining in. And tasks are expanding.To achieve the 169 targets of the world’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals by the year 2030, global leaders concur that foreign aid is vital.

For aid’s critics, however, ‘mixed results’ is a euphemism for badly designed, poorly-managed efforts guided by donor hobbies and flip-flopping policies that ignores the graveyards of failed programmes, the histories of waste, and the sometimes toxic outcomes of aid born of coercion and incoherence. China and Vietnam reduced poverty significantly with almost no Western aid, while aid-dependent countries like Malawi and Timor-Leste have fared badly—in which case why does the aid industry keep on prospering?

To answer that question we have to look at the drivers and navigation systems at work upstream in the system where the captains of the aid industry confer. These drivers get little serious probing, but the knowledge we do have points to an inconvenient truth: the main systems of development aid chiefly serve the donors. The aid system colludes in redistributing wealth from poorer to richer. Under an aura of beneficence, aid is harnessed to self-interest.

Here’s how.

To buy goodwill from others or coerce them, aid provides a classic tool of statecraft. For the biggest donors it can buy votes at the United Nations, keep client regimes ‘onside’, punish troublemakers and open doors to powerful people. As a former senior US aid official put it, “Foreign aid … is like political campaign contributions:  it can facilitate the access of those providing it to those receiving it.” Giving aid helps governments to look good in diplomatic forums while encouraging taxpayers to feel good about their generosity.

In addition, ‘our security’ is at stake. Since 9/11 development and humanitarian aid has increasingly been subordinated to hard power aims—that is ‘securitized.’ European aid, for example, is now supposed to help curb irregular migration from Africa.  Meanwhile, military doctrine and operations have become ‘developmentalized,’ complementing older practices in which aid lubricates access to strategic assets as in Kyrgyzstan, where western aid was exchanged for use of an airbase serving NATO operations in Central Asia.

Boosting exports and investments are major objectives of aid providers. A scholarly consensus, backed by many studies, holds that the mercantile interests of aid givers usually enjoy priority over the interests of aid recipients. For donors the pay-offs are many. For example, for every €10 the Dutch provide in bilateral aid to an average recipient country, Dutch exports to that country increase in the short run by €7 to €9. In the longer run, as goodwill and force of habit take hold, aid-induced sales then become even more lucrative. In the period 1988-2004, each dollar in Western bilateral aid yielded 2.15 dollars in additional exports of goods and services by Western businesses.

Donors use aid to gain footholds for their industries, like Japanese fishing fleets in the South Pacific, French uranium mining in Niger and oil and gas companies in emerging producers of hydrocarbons. Aid providers work assiduously to lower costs and risks for their business investors using subsidies like low-cost loans, insurance and market advice. In recipient countries they add to physical infrastructure and occasionally skilled-up workforces. But the aid system’s most powerful contributions involve the transmission and enforcement of ‘sound policy’, meaning policy that is suitable for investors.The formulas are well-rehearsed: sell-offs of public property; weaker protection of labour rights and environmental safeguards; and taxes shifted from foreign flows to domestic sources.

Under the World Bank’s ‘competitive cities’ approach, municipalities are pushed to compete for outside investment by offering tax ‘sweeteners’, land and other subsidies. With the rise of financial sector power, donors have facilitated the growth of stock markets and hot money flows. Key to these investor-friendly climates has been austerity—driving down public spending in recipient countries.

Acting almost as bailiffs, donors also help to extract payments to big pharmaceutical and software firms who own patents, copyrights and other kinds of ‘intellectual property.’ In the years 2012-2015, sub-Saharan African countries together paid about $10 billion to these private interests, up from about $8.7 billion in the years 2007-2010. But because rich country tax laws allow firms to hide profits, these World Bank data may actually understate the true scale of extraction.

Under vigorous donor pressure, poorer countries have poured trillions of dollarsinto Western banks under a rationale of self-insurance. As the economist C. P. Chandrasekhar has pointed out “This reverse flow of capital essentially means that excess savings in emerging markets are being ‘recycled’ in ways that put the responsibility of allocating that capital in the hands of a few financial decision makers … sitting at the apex of a concentrated global financial system.”

Consistent with their promotion of rent-seeking from ‘intellectual property’, donors show almost no interest in curbing cartels and other anti-competitive practices by transnational firms. Research is scarce, but it points to massive losses for poorer countries. One study estimates that annual losses are equivalent to at least 50 percent, and could equal as much as 300 percent of aid disbursed.

Donors have also invested in knowledge, but gains can flow back disproportionately to themselves. Aid for the ‘Green Revolution’, for example, helped boost crop yields in poor countries, but major beneficiaries have been western agribusinesses. Up to the early 1990s, estimated returns to such firms were forty times the amount of aid paid out originally by the US for research and development of the ‘Revolution’s’ higher-yield technologies.

Contrary to the belief that aid-financed programmes target diseases that mainly affect people in the tropics, research shows that “development aid is intended to alleviate the threats to populations within the donor state.” And since the 1960s, foreign aid has brought hundreds of thousands of students from poorer countries to study at universities in Europe and North America. Today, student fees and expenses annually absorb more than $3 billion in aid—virtually all of it spent in donor countries.  Where the longer-term benefits from aid-funded scholarship programmes go isn’t known with much precision, but there is some evidence that former scholarship holders from Africa tend to stay in richer countries, or to work abroad in Western firms and other organisations.

In sum, poorer countries routinely put more resources at the disposal of donor country interests than they receive in foreign aid, yet it isn’t easy to demonstrate this inconvenient truth conclusively. Estimating the extent of the aid system’s collusion in ‘perverse’ aid is often guesswork because the system’s upper reaches lack transparency. Laws, rules, political agreements and sheer inattention shield many counter-flows from public view. Every year, thousands of evaluations of aid’s ‘downstream’ activities take place but I know of no formal evaluation of aid mechanisms ‘upstream’ that would indicate with precision who benefits and by how much.

Does it have to be this way?

In 1943, at a time of enormous human suffering, one of the 20th century’s greatest activist-philosophers, Simone Weil, wrote about the characteristics of practical compassion for others.  She insisted that help must be concrete and authentic: “All human beings are bound by identical obligations, although these are performed in different ways according to the circumstances…. The obligation is only performed if… expressed in a real, not a fictitious, way.” Today, in framing debates about obligations across borders, that plea has lost none of its relevance.  It calls for lucidity, and hence the rejection of pseudo-solutions promoted through the foreign aid system.

Activists, academics, journalists and NGOs in a number of fields are already focusing on counter-flows and the legal gimmicks and non-transparency that promote them.  Although based outside the mainstream aid system, these initiatives are getting respectful attention from some donors, notably in Norwaybut also in a few knowledge centres of the United Nations. A prime example is the movement for tax justice.These combined efforts have begun to pay off as better tax enforcement and new rules yield more revenues for public purposes. Meanwhile a bloc of non-Western governments at the United Nations led by Ecuador is pressing to create a global tax body.

A system of global taxation won’t be with us soon, but as this idea gains traction it may open up a pathway towards an authentic system of redistribution across national borders. In so doing it could help to replace today’s machinery of upward redistribution, re-build decent social contracts, and ultimately sideline foreign aid as we know it.

When Aid Goes Wrong January 17, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Odaa OromooDounle digit Ethiopia

 

The World Bank accepted a rap on the knuckles for the massive flaws in the PBS programme but did not cancel it. DfID re-routed funds to other programmes in Ethiopia, the aid flowed to the authoritarian regime as before. In late 2015 and early 2016, famine threatened. No one asked the obvious question: how much has Ethiopia’s brutal, donor funded, economic experiment contributed to the collapse in livelihoods?

 

Of all the academic economists working on Ethiopia, I could not find one who was willing to speak on the record for this article. Much of the professional field of development studies is dependent on DfID research grants, with many academics serving on multimillion-pound study teams.

“If you challenge the consensus and make headlines, it is going to make your life harder,” said one economist at a London university, speaking on condition of anonymity.

 

Evaluations of PBS relied on figures supplied by the Ethiopian government; there were huge, unexamined risks of corruption in funnelling the money through the Ethiopian treasury, and the metrics used to measure success were simply the things purchased by the programme, such as schools built, wells dug, pupils enrolled or teachers hired. The donors had, in fact, no way of measuring whether those things actually benefitted the populations concerned.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/12/ethiopian-refugee-who-took-on-the-british-government

 

Geography:Excel

ETHIOPIA-TRANSPORT-RAILWA-009 Development in Ethiopia’s capital city. But at what cost?

Most more economically developed countries give aid to those that are less developed and this is almost always seen as a positive thing. However there have been cases when the aid provided has done more harm than good.

This article looks at the situation in Ethiopia. This country has been a major recipient of western aid since the 1980s and much of it seems to have been successful in helping the country to develop and to fend off the worst of the famines that ravaged the country in the past. Currently though the development drive in Ethiopia has been implicated in forcing people off their land and in to less fertile areas.

It is a long read but full of information that could really develop your essay writing.

Consider the following points.

  1. Why are people being moved from their ancestral…

View original post 23 more words

Foreign aid largely helps the wealthy, not the poor November 1, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized.
Tags: , , ,
add a comment

???????????USaidmoneyHowMuch

Foul Sides of Development Aid Business March 29, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, Africa Rising, African Poor, Aid to Africa.
Tags: , , , , ,
add a comment

O

Tarig Anter on Protect & Reinvent Democracy

Celtel advertising in rural Uganda Celtel advertising in rural Uganda

Here are two different perceptions of the development aid business that is targeting developing countries. One is from Forbes.com; while the other is from Euro-correspondent.com. interestingly, both of these opposing understandings are admitting the controversy of excessive profits made by those rich funding agencies and their middlemen who are paid to invest on their governments’ behalf.

Looking at these contrasting perceptions, they both confirm that it is totally unacceptable to create hundreds of billions of dollars for European agencies and European citizens in just few years out of the poverty of Africa, Asia and Latin America under the covers of development aid and business. Such practices shed lights on the undisclosed objectives of development aid and business.

Claiming that the fast huge wealth made by middlemen, such as Mo Ibrahim and Celtel, from the British aid agencies backing is justified because they made mobile phone revolution…

View original post 3,118 more words

The UK has ended its financial support for a controversial development project alleged to have helped the Ethiopian government fund a brutal resettlement programme, says the Guardian Global Development February 28, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Gambella, Land and resource Rights, Land and Water Grabs in Oromia, Land Grabs in Africa, Land Grabs in Oromia, Omo Valley, Oromia, UK Aid Should Respect Rights.
Tags: , , , , , , ,
add a comment

 

O

 

 

British support for Ethiopia scheme withdrawn amid abuse allegations,

Sam Jones and Mark Anderson

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/feb/27/british-support-for-ethiopia-scheme-withdrawn-amid-abuse-allegations

The UK has ended its financial support for a controversial development project alleged to have helped the Ethiopian government fund a brutal resettlement programme. Hundreds of people have been forced from their land as a result of the scheme, while there have also been reports of torture, rape and beatings.

Until last month, Britain’s Department for International Development (DfID) was the primary funder of the promotion of basic services (PBS) programme, a $4.9bn (£3.2bn) project run by the World Bank and designed to boost education, health and water services in Ethiopia.

On Thursday, DfID said it had ended its PBS contributions because of Ethiopia’s “growing success”, adding that financial decisions of this nature were routinely made after considering a recipient country’s “commitment to partnership principles”.

It has been alleged that programme funds have been used to bankroll the Ethiopian government’s push to move 1.5 million rural families from their land to new “model” villages across the country.

Opponents of the commune development programme (CDP) say it has been characterised by violence. One Ethiopian farmer is taking legal action against the British government, claiming UK money has funded abuses against Anuak peoplein the Gambella region. The man, an Anuak known as Mr O, says he was beaten and witnessed rapes and assaults as government soldiers cleared people off their land. DfID has always insisted it does not fund Ethiopia’s commune development programme.

A scathing draft report from the World Bank’s internal watchdog recently concluded that inadequate oversight, bad audit practices, and a failure to follow the bank’s own rules had allowed operational links to form between the PBS programme and the Ethiopian government’s resettlement scheme.

Although the bank’s inspection panel found that funds could have been diverted to implement villagisation, it did not look into whether the resettlement programme had involved human rights abuses, claiming such questions were outside its remit.

DfID, which has contributed nearly £745m of UK taxpayer money to the PBS programme, said the decision to withdraw financial support was prompted in part by Ethiopia’s “impressive progress” towards the millennium development goals.

“The UK will now evolve its approach by transitioning support towards economic development to help generate jobs, income and growth that will enable self-sufficiency and ultimately end poverty,” it said.

“This will go alongside additional funding for specific health, education and water programmes – where impressive results are already being delivered – resourced by ending support for the promotion of basic Services programme.”

A DfID spokesman said the move had nothing to do with Mr O’s ongoing legal action or the World Bank’s internal report, but added: “Changes to programmes are based on a number of factors including, but not limited to, country context, progress to date and commitment to partnership principles.”

The department said its overall financial commitment to Ethiopia, one of the largest recipients of UK aid, would remain unchanged, with almost £256m due to be spent between 2015 and 2016.

The Ethiopian government said DfID’s decision was not a matter of concern.

“They have been discussing it with pertinent government bodies,” said the communications minister, Redwan Hussien.

“What they said is that the aid that they’re giving will not be refused or stopped, it will be reorganised.”

The World Bank’s executive board met on Thursday to discuss the internal report on the PBS programme and the management response.

In a statement released on Friday, the bank said that although its inspection panel had concluded that the seizing of land and use of violence and intimidation were not consequences of PBS, it had determined that the programme “did not fully assess and mitigate the risks arising from the government’s implementation of CDP, particularly in the delivery of agricultural services to the Anuaks”.

The World Bank Group president, Jim Yong Kim, said that one of the institution’s core principles was to do no harm to the poor, adding: “In this case, while the inspection panel found no violations, it did point out areas where we could have done more to help the Anuak people. We draw important lessons from this case to better anticipate ways to protect the poor and be more effective in fighting poverty.”

Opponents of the villagisation process have been vocal in their criticisms of the bank’s role. Jessica Evans, senior international financial institutions researcher at Human Rights Watch, said the inspection panel’s report showed the bank had “largely ignored human rights risks evident in its projects in Ethiopia” and highlighted “the perils of unaccountable budget support” in the country.

 

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/feb/27/british-support-for-ethiopia-scheme-withdrawn-amid-abuse-allegations

Want to help someone? Shut up and listen! TEdTalk from Italian aid worker Ernesto Sirolli August 24, 2014

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, Aid to Africa, Development & Change.
Tags: , , ,
add a comment

O

This is a fantastic and humorous TedTalk from Italian aid worker Ernesto Sirolli.

When most well-intentioned aid workers hear of a problem they think they can fix, they go to work. This, Ernesto Sirolli suggests, is naïve. In this funny and impassioned talk, he proposes that the first step is to listen to the people you’re trying to help, and tap into their own entrepreneurial spirit. His advice on what works will help any entrepreneur.

All 17 minutes are worth watching, but the first 3 or so are especially recommended. Enjoy!

http://www.ted.com/talks/ernesto_sirolli_want_to_help_someone_shut_up_and_listen#t-1053556

http://www.ted.com/speakers/ernesto_sirolli

Dependency Aid is Dysfunctional: Time for Self-sufficiency February 19, 2014

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, Africa Rising, Agriculture, Aid to Africa, Development, Economics, Economics: Development Theory and Policy applications, Food Production, The Colonizing Structure & The Development Problems of Oromia, Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

???????????Home

Against the dysfunctional dependency foreign assistance, Clare Lockhart in World Affairs argues for cheaper, smarter and stronger aid that creates self-sufficiency.

‘Commerce [and] entrepreneurial capitalism take more people out of poverty than aid . . . . It’s not just aid, it’s trade, investment, social enterprise. It’s working with the citizenry so that they can unlock their own domestic resources so that they can do it for themselves. Think anyone in Africa likes aid? Come on.’

Putting these “Fish for a Lifetime” approaches into effect will require some major shifts. It will involve looking not to how much money was disbursed, or how many schools were built, but to value for money and return on investment. And instead of propping up a vast technical assistance industry of varying and often indifferent quality, a higher priority will be placed on conducting a “skills audit” of key personnel—from doctors and teachers to engineers and agronomists—who can be trained internally rather than importing more costly and less invested technical assistance from abroad.

‘It is also important under this new paradigm to distinguish between “aid” (such as life-saving humanitarian assistance and the financial or material donations it requires) and “development engagement,” which is something quite different. Development engagement can be low-budget, and should be designed to move a needy country toward self-sufficiency—so that the state can collect its own revenues and the people can support their own livelihoods—as soon as possible. Many recipient countries have enormous untapped domestic resources, and with some effort devoted to increasing those revenues and building the systems to spend them, could assume much more of the responsibility of meeting their citizens’ needs.’

But a strategy is only as good as its execution. Implementing development policies and programs correctly will require a clear-eyed look at the way programs are designed and implemented, and a re-examination of the reliance on contractors. There is no substitute in the long term for unleashing a society’s domestic potential of human, institutional, and natural capital through a well governed country.

‘Having judged the development programs of the last decade to be failures, many in the US now call for development budget cuts and wearily espouse isolationism. But it is a classic example of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Failed methods do not mean that the goal of international development must be abandoned. Development needn’t be an indulgent venture in charity, or risky business, or a road to nowhere paved with good intentions. A more hardheaded approach, one that creates self-sufficiency rather than dependency, is the new beginning that the development world has been waiting for.’ – http://www.worldaffairsjournal.org/article/fixing-us-foreign-assistance-cheaper-smarter-stronger

In 2002, during the early stages of Afghanistan’s reconstruction process, I sat in a remote part of Bamiyan Province with a group of villagers who told me how excited they had been several months before, when a $150 million housing program from a UN agency had been announced on the radio. They felt the program, which promised to bring shelter to their communities, would transform their lives. They were shocked, however, to discover soon after that this program had already come and gone—with very little change to their lives. Indignant, as well as curious, they decided to track the money and find out what had happened to the program that, as far as they were concerned, had never been. Becoming forensic accountants, they went over the files and figures and found that the original amount granted by the UN had first gone through an aid agency in Geneva that took twenty percent off the top before sub-contracting to a Washington-based agency that took another twenty percent. The funds were passed like a parcel from agency to agency, NGO to NGO, until they limped to their final destination—Afghanistan itself. The few remaining funds went to buy wood from Iran, shipped via a trucking cartel at above-market rates. Eventually some wooden beams did reach the village, but they were too heavy for the mud walls used in construction there. All the villagers said they could do was cut up the wood for firewood, sending $150 million literally up in smoke.

With examples like this, it’s really no surprise that a growing chorus of commentators claims that foreign development is expensive, ineffective, and often resented by the intended beneficiaries. In The White Man’s Burden, for instance, William Easterly provides a searing critique of this do-good mentality, which he shows often causes more harm than help. In The Crisis Caravan, Linda Polman documents the unintended consequences of humanitarian assistance. In Dead Aid, Dambisa Moyo argues that aid serves to fuel corruption and lack of accountability among elites.

Critics of US assistance build on this narrative to paint a picture of an America overstretched and in decline, wasting money abroad in a futile effort to serve its uncertain foreign policy objectives, and call for cutbacks and disengagement.

The US has spent $100 billion in nonmilitary funds to rebuild Afghanistan. Yet, after a decade of mind-bending mismanagement and unaccountability, it seems all for naught.
Some of America’s recent engagements abroad have indeed been marked by extraordinary waste and poor design. As Joel Brinkley described in an article in this publication one year ago (“Money Pit,” January/February 2013), American aid to Afghanistan has at times been extravagantly wasteful, as when a contractor overbilled the US government by $500 million. Brinkley also points to the general practice of outsourcing aid projects to contractors with little oversight. Such failures undermine confidence in the very notion of US efforts in confronting poverty and call into question our ability to deal with conflict through “soft power.”

But this criticism misses an important distinction: it is not the principle of engagement, but the way many development projects work that has led to failure. There is, in fact, an alternative way of engaging abroad to promote stability and prosperity with more lasting effect and at a far lower cost than what has become a discredited status quo.

This alternative approach recognizes that there is no shortcut to development that circumvents the citizens and governing institutions of the country. It recognizes the prominent role of entrepreneurial and civic activity. It demonstrates an understanding that institutional change requires years, not months. It has been practiced by a number of farsighted development programs that have reinforced principles of partnership and local ownership of the policy agenda. This “Learn to Fish for a Lifetime” model seeks to build up local institutions that provide security, good governance, and other elements of self-sustaining economic growth. It takes advantage of the things that America knows how to do well: mobilizing investors, firms, universities, and other potent but underused tools that leverage private capital to deliver a kind of development that far outlasts the initial intervention. Many of the activities undertaken with this model actually generate enough revenue to pay back the initial investment, meaning that foreign development projects could someday operate at or close to “net zero” expenditure to the US taxpayer, a particularly appealing prescription in an era of harsh fiscal realities.

Putting “Fish for a Lifetime” approaches into practice, however, requires rejecting the prevailing approach, which makes for a complicated and ultimately self-defeating operation, in favor of one that emphasizes return on investment, both financially and in terms of improved conditions on the ground.

My own wake-up call to the yawning gap between the intentions and impact of major development programs came in that remote part of Afghanistan, soon after the Taliban had fled. Stories similar to the one I heard have been documented by the US special inspectors general for Iraq and Afghanistan reconstruction. But it is not just in combat zones where billions of taxpayers’ funds have created disappointment. After Haiti’s tragic earthquake in January 2010, world powers promised to “build back better” and citizens internationally joined them in committing billions of dollars to that country’s reconstruction. Aid programs in Haiti were notoriously dysfunctional even before the earthquake, but in the scramble to provide help after the catastrophe, funds and opportunities were squandered on an even grander scale. More than three years on, results have fallen far short of the promise. It is what one commentator and Haiti expert, Jonathan Katz, bleakly referred to in the title of his book on the aftermath of the earthquake: The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster.

Haitian President Michel Martelly has been vocal in his criticisms of the effort, too: “Where has the money given to Haiti after the earthquake gone? . . . Most of the aid was used by nongovernmental organizations for emergency operations, not for the reconstruction of Haiti . . . . Let’s look this square in the eye so we can implement a better system that yields results.”

As Mark Schuller documents in his book Killing with Kindness, foreign donors directed the money to a network of NGOs that bypassed the Haitian government’s policy framework and the implementation capacity of its private sector, and thereby failed to meet the priorities of its citizens. Haitian organizations saw very little of the investment they needed to rebuild their society, but instead were overwhelmed by a vast aid machinery that parachuted down upon them with its own rules and priorities and complex bureaucracy.

Failure, as Haiti showed, does not come from a shortage of money or goodwill. Rather, the aid business has been afflicted by a set of institutional pathologies that almost guarantee failure. Projects designed in national capitals and foreign embassies are often divorced from the realities of the local lives of the people they intend to help, while the long time frames and rigidity of design mean that by the time a project rolls out, it is often irrelevant, even if money actually arrives after the overhead is paid to the food chain of delivery organizations. Multiple contractual layers mean too much of the original project money never even leaves international capital regions—especially Washington.

In Banda Aceh, Indonesia, analysts report how an NGO spent nearly $1 million of European Commission money on a project to construct eleven boatyards intended to stimulate the livelihoods of local fishermen, but in the end only created ten boats, none of them seaworthy.

Somewhere along the way, incentives have become skewed. Project managers and contractors alike are monitored mainly for whether the money in their charge can be tracked, rather than for whether aid activities have any transformational power. For many aid agencies, moreover, running projects has become the goal, rather than seeking to foster institutions and build productive partnerships among governments, firms, and communities. The metrics track whether a project was completed and the money disbursed, not whether sustainable institutions were left after the money had come and gone.

Finally, much of what has become standard procedure in the development business distorts local markets and displaces market activity. Every time a wheat consignment is distributed for free, for instance, local farmers see the market price for their locally grown wheat decrease. In Afghanistan in 2003, after a large-scale World Food Program wheat distribution, farmers threw up their hands and simply let their crops rot because aid had collapsed the market. Nor is it only farmers who are affected by thoughtless charity. Every time solar panels, water pumps, tractors, or cell phones are handed out for free, a local supplier can no longer sell and install his inventory, and a small business that might have long-range prospects for hiring and supporting several people is smothered.

The perversity of incentives operating in the aid and development field is no longer a trade secret. It has caught the attention of even some of the founders of the modern aid movement. “Aid is just a stopgap,” the pop star Bono, one of the forces behind putting charity to Africa on the map through the Live Aid concerts, told an audience at Georgetown University in November 2012. “Commerce [and] entrepreneurial capitalism take more people out of poverty than aid . . . . It’s not just aid, it’s trade, investment, social enterprise. It’s working with the citizenry so that they can unlock their own domestic resources so that they can do it for themselves. Think anyone in Africa likes aid? Come on.”

In an apparent one-eighty from his earlier focus on simply mobilizing aid donations, Bono’s Live Aid partner, Sir Bob Geldof, has followed suit by launching an infrastructure investment firm for Africa, proclaiming, “I want to leave behind me firms, farms, and factories.”

While the stories of what didn’t work in Afghanistan have grabbed the headlines, there have also been several examples of successful development engagement there. The National Solidarity Program in Afghanistan, for example, has directly reached more than thirty-eight thousand villages since 2003. Under its approach, a block grant, ranging from $20,000 to $60,000, goes directly to a bank account held by the village council, or Community Development Council. The village doesn’t have to apply for the funds, but if it wants to, it must follow three simple rules: elect or appoint the council, ensure a quorum of residents attend meetings to choose projects, and post the accounts in a public place. To date, the program has disbursed more than $1.6 billion, and the village councils have completed more than seventy thousand projects—roads to the local markets, water canals, and generators and microhydro systems that electrify the area.

In one case, thirty-seven villages trying to combat the loss of women in childbirth got together and pooled their money to build a maternity hospital. In another case, one hundred and eighty-five villages pooled their money to create a watershed management system, vastly expanding the land they could cultivate. NGOs are involved in these projects as facilitators who support the village through the complex transactions that it must undertake, but unlike in the traditional model of development, they don’t hold the purse strings or oversee the implementation of projects. The US Agency for International Development is now part of an international consortium that contributes to the program costs.

Similar projects exist at even greater scale in Indonesia and Pakistan. In Indonesia, the National Program for Community Empowerment (PNPM) works in more than eighty thousand villages across the nation. The program formed in 1998, in the wake of the Asian financial crisis, with the imperative to benefit communities directly with cash. Neither the government’s social safety nets nor the NGOs could do this alone, and so a partnership between governments and communities was established. Over time, the program has evolved to include micro-finance and other investment facilities, barefoot lawyers programs, and the construction of schools—all managed directly by the villages themselves.

According to official numbers, one of the PNPM programs, PNPM Mandiri Rural, reached four thousand three hundred and seventy-one sub-districts by 2009, and saw the construction or rehabilitation of ten thousand kilometers of road, two thousand and six bridges, two thousand nine hundred and eighty-six health facilities, and three thousand three hundred and seventy-two schools, in addition to the construction of public sanitation facilities and irrigation systems. These projects increased per capita consumption gains by eleven percent and reduced unemployment by one and a half percent. PNPM can accomplish all of this because of an open planning process by which projects are targeted to meet demand as expressed by the community rather than by officials thousands of miles away.

In a similar operation in Pakistan, the Rural Support Programs Network (RSPN) partners with three hundred and twenty thousand community organizations, covering five million households and thirty-three million people. These organizations have led responses to the earthquakes and floods, organized micro-finance and health insurance schemes, and built and operated schools, clinics, roads, and hydropower schemes.

This family of homegrown programs in Afghanistan, Indonesia, and Pakistan, and similar ones in Colombia, Mexico, and India, have proven it is possible to reach communities directly and at scale, cutting out the layers of contractors and NGOs that function as middlemen, while making communities the implementers of their own development in projects that achieve real results.

We really don’t need to look far afield to find approaches that work. There are a number of distinctly American approaches to development that have delivered in the past but have fallen unaccountably into disuse. Take the Economic Cooperation Act of 1948, a framework that for a while worked exceptionally well, but whose practices have been strangely forgotten in recent decades. At its core was the idea of facilitating “the achievement by the countries . . . of a healthy economy independent of extraordinary outside assistance.” The act’s programs, including the tremendously successful Marshall Plan, were geared toward the institutional and economic self-sufficiency of the recipients, with a central premise that the program could be judged a success only if it reduced the need for aid, rather than perpetuating it.

The Marshall Plan worked for the countries it sought to benefit and worked for the donor as well, paying the US back dividends both economically and in security terms far above its costs. This did not happen by chance. One of the participants in this plan, the political scientist Herbert Simon, describes in Administrative Behavior the painstaking organizational design that went into fine-tuning its approach. George Kennan, in a now-declassified memo from 1947, argued that “it is absolutely essential that people in Europe should make the effort to think out their problems and should have forced upon them a sense of direct responsibility for the way the funds are expended. Similarly, it is important that people in this country should feel that a genuine effort has been made to achieve soundness of concept in the way United States funds are to be spent.”

Other lesser-known US development programs similarly brought impressive results with moderate or no cost to the US taxpayer.

In the aftermath of the Korean War, South Korea had one of the lowest GDPs on earth, but between 1966 and 1989, it raised its GDP by an average of eight percent per year. Behind this story lies a dedicated effort to foster local capacity and industrial-led growth, backed by a US partnership. In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson agreed with President Park Chung-hee of South Korea to help establish the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) and assembled a team of leading scientists and technical experts to form and plan the institute. KIST aimed to nurture Korea’s own technical and managerial capacity to lay the basis for its economic transformation, rather than remain dependent on foreign management and input for its projects and companies. Korea is now one of a handful of nations that combine GDP per capita in excess of $20,000 with a population of more than fifty million people.

The South Korean government and the US government each contributed $10 million to KIST at its founding, and Washington used a similar model when it helped establish the Saudi Arabian National Center for Science and Technology (SANCST) in 1977. Saudi funds went to the US Treasury, which in turn paid for the technical assistance required for the center and a range of other initiatives.

Many of the best development initiatives are not directed by governments, but by the private sector and its use of market mechanisms. One example is the involvement of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) in the Afghan telecom sector. In 2002, Afghanistan had sparse telephone coverage, with access only either through a small number of fixed lines or very expensive satellite coverage. The UN proposed that the telecom sector should be addressed through an aid-driven approach, whereby funds would be used to contract with a major cell phone provider to set up services that would provide coverage to key embassies and aid agencies, at an estimated cost in the tens of millions of dollars. But, in line with how cell phone services are organized in any developed country, it was decided instead that rather than being paid by the government or aid agencies, the telephone company would bid for the license to operate a commercial service, with the proviso that services include a certain level of coverage and standard of quality.

The tender process went ahead. Several international companies registered their interest, but many expressed reservations about the level of risk they would be undertaking. This is where OPIC stepped in to draw up a risk guarantee for possible political and security problems. With an expenditure of just $20 million, this agreement provided sufficient confidence in the telecom sector for investment to proceed. By now, several billion dollars have been invested, more than sixteen million phones purchased, significant revenues generated via taxes to the Afghan government—and the $20 million guarantee was never called upon because the risks feared by the private companies never materialized. In this case, a risk instrument was able to pave the way for new market opportunities and to provide an essential service. Contrast that with the typical aid approach, which would have distorted the market, squandered money, and likely produced, at best, ambiguous results.

A similar example came out of the Caribbean. Before 2007, individual insurance companies were reluctant to insure Caribbean islands for hurricane and earthquake damage, the liability being considered commercially too risky. But then the World Bank’s Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF) was created, pooling risk to enable governments in the area to purchase affordable insurance. CCRIF was designed to protect Caribbean countries from the financial fallout of a natural disaster, offering each country timely and flexible payouts. The group can respond more quickly and more efficiently to a member country in need than can the sort of chaos of good intentions that descended on Haiti, as was demonstrated in its response to Hurricane Tomas in 2010. Barbados, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines received fifty percent of their payouts within days.

In contrast to a top-down, statist aid paradigm, these “Fish for a Lifetime” approaches are all designed to unlock and leverage the value from within the society, state, and market. They all start with the operating principle of co-designing programs with the citizens and leaders from the country concerned. Where there is a market, they do not seek to use grant capital. Once the initial intervention is over, success is judged by whether or not the innovations designed for the crisis are sustainable. This approach is geared toward increasing the self-sufficiency of the country concerned, and in particular boosting its economy and generating its own revenue and tax base.

While the treasuries of most Western countries may be afflicted by the constraints of austerity budgeting, there are vast amounts of private investment capital looking for opportunities. Many of the countries that are seen as the neediest destinations for aid are also considered by emerging market investors as the fastest-growing in the world—Rwanda, Nepal, Indonesia, and India. Infrastructure projects from power to roads and ports can and do attract private capital, and public funds can be used for risk guarantees or as co-investments rather than grant aid for these projects. Rather than seeking to maximize aid, such an approach seeks to maximize the return on investment to the society concerned.

Putting these “Fish for a Lifetime” approaches into effect will require some major shifts. It will involve looking not to how much money was disbursed, or how many schools were built, but to value for money and return on investment. And instead of propping up a vast technical assistance industry of varying and often indifferent quality, a higher priority will be placed on conducting a “skills audit” of key personnel—from doctors and teachers to engineers and agronomists—who can be trained internally rather than importing more costly and less invested technical assistance from abroad.

It is also important under this new paradigm to distinguish between “aid” (such as life-saving humanitarian assistance and the financial or material donations it requires) and “development engagement,” which is something quite different. Development engagement can be low-budget, and should be designed to move a needy country toward self-sufficiency—so that the state can collect its own revenues and the people can support their own livelihoods—as soon as possible. Many recipient countries have enormous untapped domestic resources, and with some effort devoted to increasing those revenues and building the systems to spend them, could assume much more of the responsibility of meeting their citizens’ needs. Getting the toolbox right requires instruments that can best support this approach: the OPIC, enterprise funds, chambers of commerce, public diplomacy, scholarships, international financial institutions, trade measures, and the National Academies, among others.

But a strategy is only as good as its execution. Implementing development policies and programs correctly will require a clear-eyed look at the way programs are designed and implemented, and a re-examination of the reliance on contractors. There is no substitute in the long term for unleashing a society’s domestic potential of human, institutional, and natural capital through a well governed country.

Having judged the development programs of the last decade to be failures, many in the US now call for development budget cuts and wearily espouse isolationism. But it is a classic example of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Failed methods do not mean that the goal of international development must be abandoned. Development needn’t be an indulgent venture in charity, or risky business, or a road to nowhere paved with good intentions. A more hardheaded approach, one that creates self-sufficiency rather than dependency, is the new beginning that the development world has been waiting for.

Clare Lockhart is the coauthor, with Ashraf Ghani, of Fixing Failed States and the director of the Institute for State Effectiveness, an organization devoted to finding, documenting, and facilitating better approaches to engaging abroad.
Read further at original source:
http://www.worldaffairsjournal.org/article/fixing-us-foreign-assistance-cheaper-smarter-stronger