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Public opinion about money for development

Today, the people feel that money for development produces little results. Possibly there are two main reasons. Firstly, present crisis causes cuts in the budget of development cooperation. But therefore, the pursuit of a more effective policy is motivated. Secondly we need more and better communication about the achievements towards the people. This lack of attention can be explained by the apparent distance between development cooperation and the everyday concerns of many civilians.

Development cooperation is more than just moral obligation, it is about common interests. This must be applicable, even more in the current context of financial and economic crisis, where the disastrous consequences for the finances of our countries are a risk of losing the international solidarity.

It is inacceptable to restore our budgetary balance at the expense of the most vulnerable  groups in society, which don’t live here but need our cooperation to save themselves.

Mr. Van Wassenhoven: People often say that development cooperation is pointless, nothing changes. But we ( everybody who is involved in development cooperation) are actually not the persons who will really change something. The only thing we can do is support, the local people and especially the politics are the ones who can really make the difference. Because at higher level we have no influence because these are economic and social politics.

Riots are a way to have a great influence by the people, for example with a dictatorship or when food prices are set to spiral. They respond to politics.

Ultimate conclusion

The reason is the economic politics of market speculation, even food prices  are traded by speculation. One way or another, one day this will cause problems.
Inequality must be addressed as well. Nowadays large companies make sure that local farmers (often in poor countries) wear sackcloth and ashes.
The world leaders also have to look at the world trade because the way things are now heading, sooner or later it will go wrong, look at Greece for example.
In the poor countries unions have to start up to be a voice for the voiceless, poor people. In the nineteenth century  the workmen were passive as well, but when they started to acquire wealth, they refused to let it go and because of this unions arose which wanted more and more power. Thus we need to give them time and space.

End of paternalism

Each and every one of us gets confronted with savings. The European ministers have agreed on the fundamental importance that effective development policy should be executed to provide a response to the current great global challenges. This means for instance that our policy must project their policy towards the policy of the partner countries.
We should stop paternalistic logic where we impose our vision on our partner countries. It happened multiple times in the past but we have seen that it does not work.
We are going to need partnership where all sides are on an equal footing and take their responsibility.

But what if the partner governments are part of the problem rather than part of the solution, such as DCR (Democratic Republic of Congo)?
Mr. Labille suggests that the civil society should be participated actively in  this partnership. In this way there is a democratic ‘ownership’ where the society participates as ‘owner’.  Such an approach is useful in states with a problematic government.

E.g. in DCR the Belgian government listens to organizations of the local farmers and support the Congolese authorities when they make effort towards familial agriculture. They will also stimulate the partner authorities to involve and consult the civil society. This is not paternalistic, just a matter of  mature policy dialogue.

Mr. Van Wassenhoven and Mr. Sirolli have an more radical opinion. They believe we have to shut up and listen to the local people instead of telling them what to do. They don’t have to go towards a same system as ours, we have to support them and most of all give them space and time to go their own way. It took us centuries to develop our system and still there are lots of improvements left.

So don’t off advice, offer people with passion the information they need!

Do you have an interesting, creative idea to involve the local people?

The effect of inequality in the world

 

The struggle against inequality in each domain of sustainable development should be the thread of the new think-action framework, says Belgian minister of development cooperation Jean-Pascal Labille. The challenge of the poverty goes for beyond surviving.  Dignified work, including universal social protection and access to natural resources and their sustainable management are key conditions for equality and justice.

Opinion of Bieze:

Those countries with lots of poor people are in fact very rich in way of raw materials and energy , the common goods, but those lie mostly in the hand of few people. There is a problem in division of power.  The power of certain players should be restricted for example by shorten the expire date of patents of very cheap medicines.

Example:

Worldwide four giant lithium mines are known. Three of them are in the hand of multinationals who  can attract the best scientists, so small companies are powerless and can barely compete because of the lack of knowledge.

The problem of equality often lies in the politics of the international market speculation. An example is food which is traded on the market through speculation. History shows that this model will fail sooner or later,  look at Greece, Spain and Italy.  The inequity has to be faced to obtain for example fair trade.

Belgium will always focus on fragile countries because those governments rely on it. This developing cooperation plays an important part in the struggle against inequality, in financing global collective goods and maintaining peace and stability in the world.
Thus these partnerships should be maintained despite the reduction of budget. To find new financial sources, the minister recommends that ‘tobintaks’ or auction incomes of CO2 emission permits are used to finance the climate policy in developing countries, in particular regarding the adaptation policy in the least developed and fragile countries.

 

Let me know what you think about Bieze’s opinion and Mr Labille’s proposal.

 

The importance of politics and economy in post-MDG-framework

This is a post about the different opinions on the future of the Millennium development goals, which I quoted earlier on this blog.

Currently the different governments are having a debate about the continuation of the international developing framework on account of the ending of the period about the Millennium development goals (MDG’s).

According to Mr. Labille special attention needs to be paid to the quality aspect of the projects, for example education, and one must consider more than ever the real impact in the field.

E.g. one should not build schools in regions where there is lack of teachers. Instead, they should finance the local education department to give them the opportunity to provide better training of the teachers.

Conclusion:

The post-2015-framework should comprise the Millennium goals as well as the goals for sustainable development. The financial, economic, social and ecological policy should be evaluated systematically on the consequences for sustainable development.

Mr. Leroy has the same opinion:
“I speak of a term ‘internationalization’ which incorporates not only development cooperation but also world economy, trading, politics… People often don’t see the bigger picture.”

The influence of politics and the economy is mentioned as well by Mr. Van Wassenhoven:

“The feedback that is necessary for a sustainable society is only possible if there is basis. First you need a local basis but later you need the politics to achieve something national. The local basis is just to give a signal to the politics.
Social, economic, political and hygienic aspects are all important to succeed in good development cooperation, but it is the economy which is the basis of it all. It is very important that the economy is redistributive.”

The use of the economic crisis to focus on efficiency

In the following blogs we make a small recapitulation of our previous blogs and a comparison of opinions of different persons about some topics.

On account of an interview with Bieze Van Wassenhoven, employee of Studio Globo and expert on development cooperation, I read the conversation between MO magazine and Belgian minister of development cooperation Jean-Pascal Labille.

Mr. Van Wassenhoven gives workshops at pupils in secondary schools about climate change, food certainty and development cooperation. He also works with teachers and management about sustainability. In the past, he worked as a volunteer in Cambodia and Senegal.

Mr. Labille gives his take on the vision of the future development policy and the impact of the savings of development cooperation. Check following link!

http://www.mo.be/opinie/een-paternalistische-logica-werkt-niet

The Belgian law indicates that 0.7% of GDP has to be invested in development cooperation. But due to the economic crisis, enormous savings concerning this budget were made by the government, especially in 2012 and 2013. The decline is alarming but Labille thinks we should use this economic crisis to focus on more efficiency and effectiveness of development programs.

Some examples:

  • Mr. Labille refers to the Belgian help in Uganda to develop the health sector by investing money in the support of the government’s own action plan. That way, they make themselves responsible of the execution, while Belgium still invest in policy dialogue and strong agreements about the control of the use of medicines.
  • Nowadays the government prefers that multilateral organizations themselves may decide which project will be supported financially and the Belgian government deliberately chooses to finance nothing but the general functioning.

What do you think about the efforts made by the government?

RADI-AID: Africa for Norway

Watch this short video please:

http://www.africafornorway.no/
“The video is made by The Norwegian Students’ and Academics’ International Assistance Fund (www.saih.no). With the cooperation of Operation Day’s Work (www.od.no). With funding from The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) and The Norwegian Children and Youth Council (LNU). Music by Wathiq Hoosain. Lyrics by Bretton Woods (www.developingcountry.org). Video by Ikind Productions (www.ikindmedia.com) Music Producer”

Summary of the explanation of the video:

Imagine if Africans see this video and this is the only information they ever got about Norway? What would they think about Norway? And what do people think when they hear the word ‘Africa’? Probably hunger, poverty and AIDS? ! No wonder because this is the only thing media talks about.

These images can engage people on short term but probably many people will give up because it seems like nothing is getting better. There is a need to educate ourselves on the complex issues and get more focus on how western countries have a negative impact on Africa’s development. If people want to address the problems the world is facing we need to do it based on knowledge and respect.

Comments:

This video demonstrates perfectly how people see development aid. They see hunger, so they send food, they think the problem is solved and they feel great about it (like music for life is a big party)! But the real problem isn’t hunger but they lack of ability to buy or produce food themselves. People don’t get the bigger picture. Sending some food probably will prevent people of dying the next day but it won’t solve the problem on long term. To solve problems we indeed need to do it based on knowledge and respect! For example we can show them respect by listening to them, and In this way we also will be able the detect the real problem(s)!

Two ambassadors

Two Ambassadors en K.O.-Producties are known for their commercials about image and millennium goals. By using those commercials, they try to let the people closely scrutinize the way the media in the western countries shows the current situation in for example Africa.

In the clips the Two Ambassadors continuously point out the manipulation of the media and their limits. How far can you go? The unique methods used in de commercials are a suitable starting point for a discussion and to form an opinion.

The follow clip is a perfect example. An African boy is asked to be sad in front of the camera. At the end, the producers give up because the boy always starts smiling again in each take.

With another movie they try to pay attention to what happens with the collected money for development aid and cooperation. This clip indicates the necessity of the following up. The reason is the temptation to spend all the money on a certain desire ( the bottle of coke) or to rectify the primary needs. Instead most of the money should be used to invest in long term goals and thus supervision is really important.

(Apologies for the bad quality)

 

Reduction development budget EU

According to recent numbers of the financial framework of 2014-2020, 9.3 billion euros will be retrenched to compensate the ongoing financial crisis. Van Rompuy, President of the European council, proposed this some days ago on the European meeting in Brussels about the financial framework.

With the proposal, the objective of the European engagement to spend 0.7% GNP on sustainable development cooperation by 2015 will not be achieved.

This is a bad deal concerning the growing problems such as the effects of global climate change, the growing gap between the rich and the poor, the rising food prices and prices of raw materials. The European Commission’s verdict on this is the following:  Europe has to realize they share responsibility for those problems and has to help tackling these challenges.

What is your opinion? Was it a wise move to cut this budget which probably has little influence on solving the global crisis?

Has development aid had its time? (PART 2)

Paper: http://www.mo.be/sites/default/files/MO-paper59_EindeHulp.pdf

*Debate: http://www.vvob.be/vvob/nl/nieuws/ontwikkelingsdebat-heeft-ontwikkelingshulp-zijn-tijd-gehad?q=nl/node/3003

M. Leroy speaks about internationalizing, but he means cooperation (he doesn’t use it because it is already meaningful). He claims that we don’t have to learn a fisherman to fish but that we have to fish with him.  But I think that we already have to fish with him when we want to learn him how to fish? And secondly, the step of learning the fisherman how to fish isn’t finished yet! M. Leroy claims that the government has to support and guide the initiatives of individuals. But I think this could lead to more privatization of development aid/cooperation. The problem is that it is a part of the aid-industry in which one look too much to the input and not to the realizations (and also the ‘good jobs’ matter, see previous post).

M. Leroy pleads for a large social debate (not the one above*) about internationalization, this includes not only development cooperation but also trade, financial regulation, agriculture, human rights, democracy, etc. In the debate they talk about this bigger context but we won’t go any further into this matter of bigger context like. I agree that development is also about dignity, rights in social communities and political situation but we will keep our focus on primary needs and leave the bigger context to people who have more knowledge about these things.

“The goal of development is increasing the ability of people to live the live that they value themselves. Poverty is more than lacking material resources, it is lacking the ability. But actually it is not about development any more it is about working together (cooperation), exchanging en confrontation about needs.”

There are still a lot of people who lacking basic needs! So development will be still the most important goal, but M. Leroy means that the approach should be in the way described above. There are also a lot of things that have to be considered as well like human rights and world trade/economy, this can all be brought together under the term internationalization. One can have an opinion about all this matters but I think you should leave the discussion of the different  matters to the experts .

Tagged

Has development aid had its time? (PART 1)

This post is based on the article written by M. Leroy:

http://www.mo.be/sites/default/files/MO-paper59_EindeHulp.pdf

Traditional development aid is very old and many say that it is at his end. We have to rethink the concept says M. Leroy. The relevance of aid is decreasing,  there is also a problem about the impact of aid and there are some huge changes in circumstances like the environment and the upcoming industrial countries (ex. China).  Most investments deliver very poor or none results! But the obsession of increasing budgets keeps on going, and one keep on focusing on the ‘0.7% of the Brut national product’ policy. Furthermore have many people good jobs thanks to the ‘aid industry’, and they keep on going behind the smoke screen of development aid without checking if their actions deliver results!

Some principles that M. Leroy introduced:

  • Money changing hands to ideas changing minds
  • donor logic to actor logic
  • emergency aid has its own norms and logic
  • from focusing on incomes to focusing on outcomes
  • effectiveness: the extent in which a goal is reached
  • from development assistance to internationalization

In our next post we will talk about the suggested alternative of M. Leroy, internationalization. To finish this post I want demonstrate that his vision is in some way parallel to that of Ernesto Sirolli (see earlier blog).

“It also not only about quantity (how many kids go to school?) also not only about quality (how good is the education?) but also about accountability and participation, giving the people a chance to go their own way. “

But M. Leroy goes a little further, he claims that if they can fix it on their own, you’ve got to leave them alone.