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5.2.3: Aid and NGOs in a colonized world
Friday, 04/June/2021:
12:30pm - 2:00pm

Session Chair: Christine Gibb
Technical chair: Kate Grantham
Location: Room 3


The Development Bank as a Colonizing Project: Power, Culture and Inequality at the Top of the 'Development Food Chain’

Ritu Verma

College of Culture and Language Studies - Royal University of Bhutan, and Out of the Box Canada

If development is a colonialist project, it is deeply rooted in problematic tenets of capitalism. Development continues to perpetuate historical patterns of colonization first constructed and epitomized by transnational corporations such as the British East India Company, authorized agents and conduits of the Crown that expanded and built the colonial empire. Instead of by royal decree, they are driven by inter-governmental charters that establish influential centres of power and skewed relations of finance that expand capitalist accumulation and material consumption based on the premise of endless growth. Over time, they have played a hand in widening income inequalities for a small yet powerful segment of beneficiaries as targets of development, and those doing the actual targeting. This is exemplified at the top of the development ‘food chain’, a space dominated by powerful development banks. This paper explores the way development banks act as drivers of hegemonic development, shaping the way inequitable practices and colonial understandings of development and finance are conceptualized, shaped, prioritized, deployed and perpetuated to the disadvantage of those deemed ‘less developed’. In doing so, historical chains of resource exploitation, knowledge appropriation, material accumulation, unsustainable consumption and the missionary zeal of converting local populations to the ethos of modernity remain unbroken. Also central to the colonial world are social worlds, organizational culture, and ongoing patterns of development practice, policy and lending of development banks, including the construction of ‘expert’ knowledge and its material effects on the ground. The colonial life-worlds and lifestyles of bank practitioners living and working in aidland are therefore foundational. The paper reflects on ways development banks can be reconfigured and reconstituted by decolonizing their practices, policies, debt/finance schemes, institutions and organizational culture to ensure equality, inclusivity, empathy, and ultimately, redressing exploitation, appropriation, oppression, dispossession, marginalization and the myriad of power imbalances they perpetuate.

Criticality of Public Trust for Success of Development Agenda: Lessons from Afghanistan

Seyed Ali Hosseini

Balsillie School of International Affairs, Canada

Development agenda has been promoted for decades for being a panacea for some structural problems like insecurity, poverty, hunger, and injustice. It also has been recognised, by academics, policymakers and practitioners, that among the reasons that it does not produce the promised outcomes is corruption in development projects. The focus of anti-corruption scrutiny has mostly been the recipient states, and especially government institutions, and the corruption in and accountability of the development assistance providers are not adequately researched and addressed. This qualitative research critically examines the effect of corruption among development assistance providers on the erosion of public trust and the success of development agenda in addressing insecurity, poverty and injustices through the case study of Afghanistan.

A recipient of major development aid in the last two decades, Afghanistan remains poor, insecure and one of most corrupt countries in the world. While there have been numerous reports about corruption of Afghan government and elites, a less researched aspect of corruption is corruption among the state and non-state international development providers. Pointing the finger of blame at the local institutions without addressing the problem in the foreign institutions reminds the colonial arrogance of blaming locals for lack of capacity to develop. This paper argues that unaddressed problem of corruption among development assistance providers as well as their support to corrupt Afghan partners resulted in erosion of trust between international community and the local population and, hence, undermined the peacebuilding and state-building efforts. Using poststructuralist view, it examines the anticorruption assumptions and performance of international aid providers, through examining the reports by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction’s reports (SIGAR) and other organizations. The research aims to highlight the importance of transparency and accountability of both providers and recipients of development assistance to make the agenda more inclusive and transformative.

“Legitimate survivor” … according to whom?

Christine Gibb

University of Ottawa, Canada

Development and humanitarian work have a long history of categorizing people. These categories have had myriad material and discursive repercussions for those included in and excluded from projects, as well as for development and humanitarian organizations and their donors. This paper examines the issue of defining so-called “legitimate survivors” in the aftermath of a disaster. After all, “legitimate survivors” are eligible for relief goods and services, resettlement housing, livelihood loans, among other benefits. But categorizing some individuals or groups as deserving of assistance, and others not, is never a neutral exercise. Rather, it serves the broader political, economic, environmental and social interests of diverse stakeholders. In this paper, I use disaster case studies from the literature and my own fieldwork to study how definitional criteria impact, and are impacted by, development projects. I ask questions such as: How exactly is legitimacy defined? Who articulates the criteria? How are claims to (il)legitimacy subverted? How might it be possible to decolonize the categories that delimit the boundaries of disaster relief, rebuilding and resettlement? These questions are not only important for populations affected by disasters and for the organizations serving them, but also for development practitioners, scholars and activists who struggle with setting project parameters and selecting project beneficiaries.

Bureaucratic pluralism as a source of development partnership: Exploring the case of aid spending across 'other' government departments

Rachael Calleja1, Nilima Gulrajani2

1Centre for Global Development UK; 2Overseas Development Institute, UK

Donors across the OECD-DAC have often channeled Official Development Assistance through other government departments (OGDs). OGD 'otherness' derives from the fact that these bureaucratic branches of government are not the 'principal' body with responsibility for global development policy or programming. This paper empirically investigates the tendency for bureaucratic pluralism in global development policy-making and implementation across the DAC, drilling down into data from the Canadian case in the post-2013 merger period. We suggest the use of OGDs as a channel for ODA disbursement may provide a new template for intra-governmental partnership, with implications for domestic coordination, policy coherence and the political accountability of ODA spending.