Rapid and profound changes are taking place in international development. The past two decades have promoted the ideals of participation and partnership, yet key decisions affecting people's lives continue to be made without sufficient attention to the socio-political realities of the countries in which they live. Embedded working traditions, vested interests and institutional inertia mean that old habits and cultures persist among the development community. Planning continues as though it were free of unpredictable interactions among stakeholders. This book is about the need to recognise the complex, non-linear nature of development assistance and how bureaucratic procedures and power relations hinder poverty reduction in the new aid environment.
The book begins with a conceptual and historical analysis of aid, exposing the challenges and opportunities facing aid professionals today. It argues for greater attention to accountability and the adoption of rights based approaches. In section two, practitioners, policy makers and researchers discuss the realities of power and relationships from their experiences across sixteen countries. Their accounts, from government, donors and civil society, expose the highly politicised and dynamic aid environment in which they work.
Section three explores ways forward for aid agencies, challenging existing political, institutional and personal ways of working. Authors describe procedural innovations as strategic ways to leverage change. Breaking the barriers to ensure more inclusive aid will require visionary leadership and a courageous commitment to change. Crucially, the authors show how translating rhetoric into practice relies on changing the attitudes and behaviours of individual actors. Only then is the ambitious agenda of the Millennium Development Goals likely to be met.
The result is an indispensable contribution to the understanding of how development assistance and poverty reduction can be most effectively delivered by the professionals and agencies involved.
Leslie Groves is an independent social consultant who works with a variety of non-governmental organizations and donors. Rachel Hinton is a social development adviser at the Department for International Development (DFID), UK, and an honorary fellow at the University of Edinburgh.
Part One: Challenges and Opportunities * The Complexity of Inclusive Aid * Changing Power Relations in the History of Aid * Reflections on Organizational Change * Part Two: Power, Procedures and Relationships * Who Owns a Poverty Reduction Strategy? A Case Study of Power, Instruments and Relationships in Bolivia * Questioning, Learning and 'Cutting Edge' Agendas: Some Thoughts from Tanzania * The Donor-Government-Citizen Frame as Seen by a Government Participant * Exploring Power and Relationships: A Perspective from Nepal * An International NGO's Staff Reflections on Power, Procedures and Relationships * 'If It Doesn't Fit on the Blue Square It's Out!' An Open Letter to My Donor Friend * The Bureaucrat * Part Three: The Way Forward * Shifting Power to Make a Difference * How Can Donors Become More Accountable to Poor People? * Minding the Gap through Organizational Learning * Personal Change and Responsible Well-Being * Enabling Inclusive Aid: Changing Power and Relationships in International Development * Appendix - The Dynamics of Aid: Power, Procedures and Relationships Timeline * Index