In my last four posts I distinguished the different relationships that occur in the giving of aid to developing countries. I introduced the concept of Red Aid, which is characterised by an ideology of development, human rights and good governance that is framed as the ‘building of local institutions’. Red Aid in Tanzania is dominated by a monolithic approach to achieving development. It assumes that all poor countries suffer from the same set of problems and can be subject to the same set of solutions. I have argued that Red Aid is not developmental because it ties the recipient to an external dominant ideology whose formula for development is one where growth = open markets + foreign investments + good governance. It assumes that hyper-globalisation and growth will filter down to the poor; that aid can fill the resource gap and catalyse growth from within developing countries and that institutional reforms will make all the difference.
These ideas and the conditionalities within Red Aid leave little room for countries such as Tanzanian to customize their political and economic policies. The power asymmetries – economic power, political power and knowledge power – are deeply embedded in the existing structures and are an obstacle to the realisation of the national project. As a result 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. The Tanzanian political elite and the givers of Red Aid manipulate these asymmetries in ways that privilege the status quo and undermine Tanzanians opportunities to pursue shared global developmental solidarity.
Natsios (2010) introduces the idea of a counter-bureaucracy that has emerged within agencies who give Red Aid. These agencies have a conflicted identity and sense of purpose, which they try to resolve by focussing on measuring the results of their aid. This helps them to make an argument back home about the effectiveness of aid. The unintended consequences of this obsession with quantifiable, quick results are that the time horizons for development projects are contracting. Perverse incentives shut down the space for program innovation, risk taking and new approaches to development. And there is an emphasis on compliance over program substance. All of which undermine claimed efforts to transform social and economic structures.
One of the unintended consequences of Red Aid has been to create an enabling environment for the members of the ruling party and State bureaucracy – the Tanzanian elite – over broad-based equitable development. The assumption embedded within the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness that Tanzania has a developmental leadership has been contested. There is evidence that politicians and bureaucrats have become skilled at exploiting foreign investment and the loans of International Financial Institutions for their own economic and political ends. They systematically seek rents, engage in political patronage and exploit national resources for their own ends. This behaviour results in the Government’s failure to provide public goods and can only result in the Government losing its legitimacy amongst Tanzanian citizens.
Double-standards prevail throughout the system of Red Aid. Donor conditionalities, where the giving of aid is conditional upon recipient countries building local institutions, create perverse effects that undermine local democracy. There is a dissonance between the claimed objectives of Red Aid and its effects in Tanzania. Red Aid can do harm and donors often fail to work effectively in local contexts. Aid is perpetuating corruption in Tanzania. It also undermines countries’ sovereignty and shuts down the policy space for Government. Additionally, Red Aid draws away talented people from working in Government, inhibits the Governments’ ability to engage in long-term planning and duplicates projects that undermine local governance processes.
Whilst a key donor conditionality is accountable domestic governance amongst recipient countries, there is increasing consensus that there is a problem of governance in international public institutions like the IMF, which lacks some of the basic rules of democratic institutions. Many Tanzanians are galled that there seems to be one set of rules for the rich and another for the poor. There are many criticisms of donors’ own organizational health that would suggest that more humility may be appropriate from them when dealing with recipient countries. The primary critique is that aid agencies are not accountable to their intended beneficiaries and are poorly regulated. This lack of accountability to both the recipients of their aid and the lack of compulsory regulation perpetuates a set of dysfunctions. These include a failure amongst donors to be transparent and accountable to the public, the misdirection and misuse of aid money and the perpetuation of stigmatization of recipient countries to feed the aid bureaucracy.
I have used a political economy analysis to examine the discourse and practice of Red Aid in Tanzania. This approach provides some insight into how power and resources are distributed and contested. It aims to get beneath the formal structures to reveal the underlying interests, incentives and institutions that enable or frustrate change. I have adopted an Radical Structuralist approach to this analysis, looking at how class and economic structures are instruments of domination. It is assumed within this epistemological stance that these dysfunctional relationships can only be changed through some form of conflict, collective resistance and radical change.
However, what I have not considered is the underlying emotional, cognitive or cultural worlds that informs the actions of individuals who hold power in Tanzania and within those agencies who give Red Aid. Whilst I have described the practices of institutions I have not explored the inner worlds of those individuals who make up those institutions. Future research should examine the world-views of individual members of the elite. This would shed light on the deep structures and surface features that determine the meaning that individual’s give to their behaviour.
The current literature and practice of development in Tanzania has fallen victim to the “monological gaze” (Wilber, 1996). The assumption is that the behaviour of society can be studied in a detached fashion with an objective stance. There is a failure both amongst thinkers and development practitioners to engage with the individual’s mental models, values and consciousness; with the individual’s competencies and skills and with the collectives’ shared meanings, rituals and taboos. Without adopting a more integral stance I have only built here a partial picture of the reality of development in Tanzania.
My subsequent scholarly work and dissertation will explore the process of developmental unfolding that occurs in individuals who behave counter to the norm in Tanzania. In my dissertation literature review I will build on the analysis presented in this paper in the following ways:
- Using the lens of the Radical Humanist perspective I will review the literature on Emotions, Flow, Transformative learning, Strengths and Use of Self to find our about the effects of positive emotions on individuals’ ability to take new forms of action. I will propose and seek evidence that individuals who feel positive emotions and are able connect with their strengths have broadened their repertoire of possible actions and intervene when they see a child at risk.
- Adopting a Functionalist perspective I will explore the literature on Decision Theory and Social Influence to find out what typically needs to be in place to incentivize pro-social behavior. I propose and will seek evidence that individuals who have information and opportunities to reflect on the consequences of their choices take action to protect children.
- Finally using an Interpretivist lens I will explore the literature on Social Change and Social Capital to find out how individuals self-organize to take action if they have the space from which to do so.
Wilber, K. (1996). A brief history of everything. Dublin: Gill & Macmillan.