Week Six; Emerging Issues in Development

The experience has expose me to a wider view of development theory and practices and its had enabled me to reflect on some of the things happenings in the world right now and also that the world is evolving and changing, but that ‘good change’ requires a great deal of work. This post will draw much of it lessons from the  promises of Millennium Development Goal (MDG), expectation of aid policy and development, and what development or “good change” is and how to identify them (measuring development).

Objective Level:  This is more like a recap of the entire units  as Tom revisited defining and measuring development, the theories and their impact, exploring the world as it is now and key issues arising in development studies. In it we explored arising issues or new questions that challenges the different theories of development and how these questions can creates room for growth in  the development community.

Tom referred to  “what’s around the corner” ; Millennium Development Goals, aid policy -development policy, a two speed world, the end of north and south and different ways of classifying. To understand the angle of matters now arising in development studies, it was relevant to revisit definitions of development that resonated. Chambers, (1999) describes development as “good change”. Tom said the definition “good change”  sums up the CAD module because is memorable phrase and emphatic.

MDG: Sachs said never before had the world community accepted such accountability, measurably and responsibility for global development, pulling the world’s richest and poorest nations to work together in harmony to meet a set of good change by 2015 (Sachs, 2005:210-14). Many people are wondering if the millennium development goal was a nice idea by the west to give the world false hope.

The Millennium Development Goals consist of an agenda to half poverty, reduce hunger, ensure universal primary education, promote gender equality, tackle HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, reducing mortality rate, improving health and achieving environmental stability all by 2015.The present day reality proves that there is considerable gaps between performances of different countries and regions in applying and instituting these reforms towards the successful completion of the MDGs. Some of the reasons for these performance gaps is relative to a lack of economic growth, wealth distribution,  income inequality,  political mismanagement and inefficient in policy making. While all these factors are crucial to attaining the MDGs,  effective public service delivery, rule of law, effective decentralization, accountability and respect for human rights, have the potential to channel the MDGs into good governance.

Fukuyama (2004: 163) predicted that one of the foreseeable  key issues facing global communities in development practice is precisely state building. Furthermore,the consequences of neglecting the state especially in sub-sahara Africa and former socialist republic was the growing issues of governance, lawlessness and breakdown of administrative competence. Johnson (2002)

Good governance is synonymous with effective democracy, and it is only possible where democratic values and norms are integrated into the society and its institutions along with the procedural requirements of fair and free elections as well as peaceful turnover of power. At the core of good governance are strong civil society, respect for human rights, and minority rights in particular, accountable and transparent and effective public administration and service delivery , decentralized  local governance, separation of powers,  functional judiciary, along with economic stability, reduced unemployment rate, high economic growth and declining poverty. In effect it is important to note that these features cannot exist without the combination of values of freedom, respect for human right solidarity, tolerance, and shared responsibility in international development, security and peace.

Aid Policy vs. Development policy:

The development policy debate focuses too much on aid.  Aid policies may help to improve the living conditions of people in developing countries, but it is development policies that will result in lasting transformation. If we are serious about promoting long-term change, we should talk less about aid, and more about the other rich-world policies and behaviours that affect developing countries. Owen (2010). The last two decades of development have witnessed the debate on the role of government institutions in fostering changes and shaping  development outcomes in poor countries. This became a prominent feature of donor discourse and interventions however,  in many aspect it has proved problematically thus, very limited impact has been created so far. A critical review of the role of development actors in facilitating processes of institutional transformation brings to notice the challenges about balancing  the role of political elites, donor’s motives, political system and  governance, in identifying context-specific realities and possibilities. This is an indication that there is a need for better reflection and evaluation of the donor-beneficiary relationship in order to determine best practice.

Going forward, should the governance of poor developing countries mimic what works in advanced capitalist democracies? David Booth ( 2011), yet for the past 20 years ‘good governance’ has meant exactly that. Millions of dollars have been spent on programmes to make private enterprise work in Africa as it does in the US, elections as they do in Sweden. I believe, development practice should focus more on development policy rather than aid and adopt situations that fits the agenda of what it sets out to achieve.

Emotional Level: I believe the debates currently dominating meetings likes the G20 and UN annual meetings often centered around evaluating whether or not the MDGs  so far will be a success come 2015 or and if not what are the alternatives? Some claim that development has been a clear success so far, others argue that it has disappointed or rather failed to deliver on its promises. There are claims that poverty level has reduced, on the contrary, global figures indicates that the poverty is sky-rocketing while income raises inequality has also increased immensely . And the debate goes on.

These issues arose due to the complexities of transcending development agendas from theory to practice.The fact is development is complex, policy-making is hard, growth is fragile and real change takes time. It means integrating the multiple dynamic systems of economics, finance, politics and culture, and shaping policies that crisscross and sometimes collide. Add all these factors to the ambiguities nature of human behavior, effect of culture, brittle ecological endowments, and random acts of nature, and the task of development becomes even more daunting.

Interpretive Level:  Arising issues in development is as a responses to the shapes of new and emerging priority, agendas, and most importantly failure of some development agendas in development practice. Conditions in developing countries makes it obvious that policies cannot be imposed, but rather gently shaped to fit each country’s need thus; this places a high demand on development policies to influence the political systems in poorer countries.

Decision Level: One of the most important things I learnt so far is; the longer it takes to achieve progress or good change the harder it is going to become. The fact is good or good enough governance plays a major role in development. Secondly, it emphasizes the importance of carrying the people along in their development process and that they must feature in the development debate as citizens, not subjects. That people who are living these situations in poorer countries will be more aware of their own social and economic realities and often know a great deal about how to make them better. Their knowledge and experience are to be valued and applied and, thanks to current technology, can usefully be shared across borders for best practice and replication by countries in similar situations.

Prioritization and planning are keys to effective development. Great impact can be achieved if much of the development agenda considers; ‘what is most important and how can it be best implemented. For human development; it is obvious young people are the future and that investing in quality education will help unleash the transformative power of knowledge—but not without jobs to put that knowledge to work. From an economic perspective,  theorist and economic gurus need to acknowledge the fact that markets are markets and not magic and history can always repeat itself. Institutions, both public and private, have roles to play in organizing people and resources to achieve equitable results with efficiency and integrity.

In conclusion,  these emerging issues are an indication that development theorist, researchers and practitioners must continue to learn from experience but only apply solutions that fits the situation uniquely.

Key References

David Booth, (2011) Governance for Africa; building on what works, London, Institutions Africa.

Jeffrey Sachs, (2005) The End of Poverty; economic possibilities of our time, Great Britain, Penguin Books.

Owens’s blog, (2010) Aid Policy Vs Development Policy, http://www.owen.org/blog/3266 . 

Tom Hewitt and Fiona, (2011) Critical Approaches to Development; Supplementary Material Handbook Volume 1 and 2, Birmingham, University of Birmingham Press.


About rebeccaidd

Development expert, exploring inequality research in Nigeria! Passionate about public policy! Follow me on twitter @enobong
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