In this series of posts I will describe the literature on international development as it pertains to Tanzania. I hope to make the argument that development practice is losing sight of the human dimension because of its focus on the political economy. This can be attributed to a combination of factors, each of which are discussed in subsequent posts. A neo-liberal agenda of macro economic growth has prevailed over investment in the domestic project. This has fed a short-term and instrumental approach to development that results in quick and visible wins over long-term transformative processes. It has also created an enabling environment for the elite over broad-based equitable development. Finally, the aid industry practices double standards and is developmentally unhelpful as it perpetuates the status quo rather than challenging institutional, political and personal blocks to social change.
I have adopted a Radical Structuralist perspective to my analysis, endeavoring to view the world in terms of class and economic structures that are instruments of domination. This epistemological approach believes that these dysfunctional relationships can only be changed through some form of conflict. This is an ideology towards change and transformation, valuing the transformation of structural mechanisms through collective resistance and radical change. The validity of my stance lies in the effectiveness of my argument and ideas to persuade the reader.
In this post I provide a brief overview of the demographic, social, political and economic issues facing Tanzania. I then try to create some some definitional clarity about the concept of development in the context of Tanzania. I build off the work of Tandon (2008) to identify the various typologies of aid. Then I try to make a distinction between global developmental solidarity and the Red Aid, which I contend is un-developmental, but characteristic of most multi-lateral and bi-lateral aid relationships. Finally I describe the current priorities of Red Aid in Tanzania.
The place of a political economy analysis in understanding Tanzania
Political economy analyses are increasingly used by development practitioners to help them understand what drives political behaviour and how this shapes particular policies and programmes. Such an analysis bridges the traditional concerns of politics and economics and helps practitioners to understand how power and resources are distributed and contested. Its aim is to get beneath the formal structures to reveal the underlying interests, incentives and institutions that enable or frustrate change (DFID, 2009). It is concerned with understanding the interests and incentives facing different groups in society, particularly political elites, and the role of formal institutions and norms in shaping political and economic competition. The political economy analysis frames development as a fundamentally political process. In these posts I examine the literature on development that has been written from the perspective of a political economy analysis. I have drawn on the work of the Africa Power and Politics program, which examines how the governance discourse determines Government and donor priorities. I have not examined development literature that sheds light on the intra-subjective and inter-subjective worlds of Tanzanians, as expressed through their emotional repertoire, individual behaviours nor cultural, religious and social norms.
The demographic, social, political and economic issues facing Tanzania
Tanzania can be characterised as a “youth bulge” state (National Intelligence Council, 2008), one of the many Sub-Saharan African countries where the under-30 group will represent 60 percent of the population or more by 2025. In 2010, there will be about 4.1 million young people aged 14-17, and about 1.8 million young people aged 18-19 (United Republic of Tanzania, 2009). Tanzania faces a demographic tipping point that will see its working age populations grow and dependency ratios fall (Evans, 2011). This demographic feature is associated with the emergence of political violence and civil conflict. Tanzania is also experiencing rapid urbanization, without parallel formal job sector growth and adequate services (UNICEF, 2012).
This trajectory and the country’s location places Tanzania in what is known as the “arc of instability” (National Intelligence Council, 2008). Tanzania is at risk of growing radicalism among young people who face unemployment and are disenchanted because they are economically and politically marginalised. As the decade progresses Tanzania will need to confront questions about equity and the exploitation of the country’s natural resources by a few, the resilience of poor people in the face of environmental unpredictability, and how to interact with countries within East Africa to leverage regional markets and growth (Evans, 2011).
The Nyalali Commission recommended multi-party democracy in 1992 and the Mwinyi Government acted upon this recommendation with the first multi-party elections in 1995. Despite this, Tanzania continues to be ruled by the post-Independence Chama Cha Mapinduzi party, which has now been in power for fifty years. There is little doubt that Tanzania is on the cusp of profound changes in relationships between citizens and the State. An emerging shift in world-views has the potential for a large-scale transformational shift in values (Evans, 2011).
Development practice means many things to many people
Against this background Tanzanian citizens, donors, investors, and multinational bodies repeatedly refer to the need for the country to develop. But, there is little consensus about what this vision of development would look like, nor how to achieve it.
The writings of Julius Nyerere, Tanzania’s first President and a hero of liberation and Pan-Africanism provided the “ideological glue of development” (Tandon, 2008) that continues to inspire many African thinkers. He described development as a process that starts from within the individual, spreads to communities and is expressed in the nation’s behaviour. It involves self-confidence, dignity, social contribution and freedom from want, fear or exploitation. He also argued that the search for development should be situated as a site of struggle “for liberation from structures of domination and control, including mental constructs and the use of language. This struggle is waged between nations, within nations, within communities, and even within households” (Tandon, 2008). A Southern perspective frames development by means of the following formula:
development = SF + DF – IF
Where SF is the social factor – the essential well-being of the people free from want and exploitation. DF is the democratic factor – the right of the people to participate in decision making that affects their lives and livelihoods. IF is the imperial factor – the right of a nation to liberation from colonial and imperial domination, which follows from the right to self-determination (Tandon, 2008).
Tandon (2008) and Yunus (2009) emphasize that development is a process of self-empowerment, that is self-defined and cannot be defined by outsiders. It is about harnessing the individual’s human creativity. But, this is a very different approach to development than that articulated by Natsios (2010), who has extensive experience as a development practitioner working for USAID. He understands development to essentially be about state building. It is an effort to build or strengthen institutions (public, private profit-making, and nonprofit civil society) in poor states. The ultimate goal of which is to develop a capable state, market economy, and civil society that can manage public services, design good policies, create jobs, and protect human rights and the rule of law. The assumption embedded in this vision is that the State should be built in the vision of a liberal, democratic, Western model. Tandon argues that the neo-liberal formula for development, that had been adopted by donors, essentially equates development with growth and wealth accumulation.
Differing visions of development play out in the typologies of aid
Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) or aid has been adopted as a strategy to promote development. Foreign aid from official sources to developing countries (excluding private aid) amounted to $103.6 billion in 2006 and has amounted to over $2.3 trillion (measured in 2006 dollars) over the past fifty years (Easterly & Pfutze, 2008). In 2009 alone, net disbursements of ODA were $140.2 billion. For thirty-one recipient countries ODA was greater than 10% of their GDP in 2008 (Ghosh & Kharas, 2011).
Since the Marshall Plan was adopted as a strategy to reconstruct Germany and the Allies after the Second World War aid has been considered to be an inevitable and positive contribution to strengthening fragile States. In the mid 20th Century the emphasis of giving started to shift away from (re)building infrastructure towards engaging with the less tangible processes of state strengthening. Until the recent work of Easterly (2007) and Moyo (2010) few have contested that aid was a valuable way to address the poverty of developing countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.
However, addressing absolute poverty in Tanzania is not an endeavour of the same ilk as rebuilding a shattered post World War II Europe. Addressing poverty has been framed as a moral imperative, but what has been less scrutinized by humanitarians is the the strategic, political and ideological elements of State building and development. The moral imperative to address poverty is most clearly manifested the pledge by Governments of the developed countries to put aside 0.7% per cent of their gross national income for aid. “Developed countries will be judged on their level of ‘generosity’ in aid transfers. The development needs of the poor are taken to be infinite, so more aid is always justified. The idea that too much aid is as harmful as not enough simply cannot be incorporated into the ‘bird’s-eye’ dominant discourse” (Cooksey, 2003, p. 22). What is not scrutinized in public is that this 0.7 % pledge has become a promise to chain the aid dependent poor nations to largesse from the rich in perpetuity (Tandon, 2008). Booth reminds us that these commitments paid little attention to the absorptive capacity or institutional impacts on the recipient countries (2011a).
Despite the vast sums involved in the aid business there is little clarity about the relationship between aid and development. This plays out in fierce debates about aid effectiveness. Tandon argues that “the fundamental reason why the relationship between ‘aid’ and ‘development’ is not fully understood is because of the way both terms are defined in the OECD-DAC vocabulary, definitions which have also been adopted by the United Nations … These are self-serving, West-centric, value-loaded and arbitrary definitions.” The OECD-World Bank discourse on development frames aid in terms of ODA flows that lead to growth and then development. This is in contrast to the traditionally Pan-African stance on development which sees aid in the light of charitable and humanistic tools to aid African self-determination.
There is a dissonance between the desired end of development and the means to get there, one strategy of which is aid. When there is little consensus about what the end of development looks like aid is easily manipulated to serve varying agendas. The giving of aid is ultimately politically motivated (Booth, 2011a). In Tanzania few academics, politicians or activists will put their heads above the parapet to argue that aid promotes a neo-liberal agenda that frames development in terms of growth, to the exclusion of locally rooted visions of development. Rather, politicians and policymakers appear to have bought into a donor discourse that talks of country-owned development programming, the alignment of aid programming with country policies and the harmonization and rationalization of donor efforts (United Nations, 2005).
Later in this series of posts I will describe further how the elite manipulate this discourse in a way that serves their interests over that of the Tanzanian people. Multi-lateral and bi-lateral donors who framed The Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness apparently assume that Tanzania has a developmental leadership that has bought into their world-views and values. I will provide evidence that the behaviour of the Tanzanian leadership and the international donors reveals profound ambivalence about pursuing context specific development strategies.
Global developmental solidarity versus Red Aid
Figure 1 depicts a typology of colors that describe the various forms of relationships that Tanzania has with overseas partners. Politicians, activists, donors and commentators tend to indiscriminately label all of these as aid. Figure 1 dis-aggregates these relationships. In the rest of this paper I describe how Red Aid plays out in practice and the consequences for development processes in Tanzania.
The Red overseas relationship on the right of Figure 1 is what I will refer to as Red Aid throughout the remainder of these posts. It is the form relationship that is typically referred to when bi-lateral and multi-lateral donors speak of aid. However, they would typically refer it within a developmental light, assuming that the ideological basis of development, human rights and good governance which they frame as ‘building of local institutions’ is uncontested and universally shared with the recipient country. This is aid with an ideological agenda that is inextricably linked to macro economic processes, and assumes the concepts of capital markets, consumption, and unlimited growth.
In contrast, the purple overseas relationship on the left of Figure 1 is what I consider to be a developmental relationship. This is characterised by a socio world-view that serves to join different people in solidarity. Any financial transactions, or flows of people, skills and knowledge, are characterised by a shared pursuit for personal, collective and systemic transformation. The “fundamental principle of this approach is that people have a universal right to participate in the production of knowledge that directly affect their lives and take action to meet the needs” (Hochachka, 2009, p. 21). Rather, than calling this relationship an aid relationship it would be more accurate to call it a shared pursuit of global developmental solidarity. These relationships seek to address tangible and intangible needs without preferencing one over the other or assuming that working with the former will automatically fulfill the latter. It includes a meshwork of practical solutions, interactive processes, and personal growth. Hochachka calls these areas practical, interpersonal and personal and each have their own specific set of methodologies. Practical developmental relationships seek to address tangible material aspects of development. The interpersonal element endeavors to support diverse people to create shared meaning of their behaviours and to partake in the social construction of values and morals. The personal aspect of the relationship involves the psychological and cognitive processes, such as constructing identity, structuring reason, and forming world-views. This area of personal emphasizes that community well-being includes the well-being of individuals in a holistic sense.
The current priorities of Red Aid in Tanzania
“Development is about transforming the lives of people, not just transforming economies” (Stiglitz, 2007, p. 50). A successful development strategy is made up of markets, government, individuals and communities. Social change cannot be achieved without personal change, because as people’s ways of thinking about themselves and about their world change, their behaviours, actions and ways of living also change (Kegan, 1982). So any form of truly developmental aid should endeavor to develop not just technical and social capacity but also emotional capacity, moral capacity and the capacity to love (Hochachka, 2009). The reality, however, is that Red Aid in Tanzania has been characterised by a succession of big ideas that adopt a monolithic approach to achieving development (Rodrik, 2011). These will be described in more detail in subsequent posts. The result is that the practice of giving aid becomes tied to a set of conditionalities, which promote the West’s ideology of development.
This ideology is characterised by an argument that democratization is a condition for social and economic development. Democratization or good governance – the two sometimes being almost synonymous, in the donors’ estimations (Lange, 2008) involves assisting or insisting upon insitutional change. In reality, good governance is usually taken to mean democratic governance and other institutional ‘best practices’ now established in advanced market economies” (Booth, 2011b, p. 13). It is not accidental, therefore, that during 2003–05 the rich countries committed $1.3 billion of ODA funds to improving governance in the least developed countries and only $12 million to agricultural improvement (Tandon, 2008).
In my next post I will describe how the West’s current development ideology, which is promoted by Red Aid, is underpinned by a set of monolithic ideas which assume that all poor countries suffer from the same set of problems and can be subject to the same set of solutions. I then argue that the lives and aspirations of Tanzanian people have become lost in the face of a development approach that privileges short-term instrumental interventions over long-term transformative developmental processes.
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