lnu.sePublications
Change search
CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf
A broker of aid – to be breaking, broke or broken?
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Studies.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0619-6863
2014 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation only (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This paper departs from experience and reflections from eight years working as a development practitioner within civil society support programmes on popular participation, governance, agriculture, land rights, accountability and at grass-root level in rural settings in Mozambique and Afghanistan. The reflections are based on in-depth experiences from the two countries mentioned above but also on shorter experiences from several other countries in Southern and East Africa and Latin America.

Support to civil society is for many bilateral development agencies an important part of their portfolio with considerable amounts allocated. As an example, the 2014 civil society allocation of the Swedish development agency Sida, is 1, 7 billion at central level alone (the so called frame agreements), excluding programmes negotiated at country or embassy level. There are trends on what donor support within civil society both in terms of approaches as well as thematic directions. During my years working with Swedish NGOs such as Swedish Africa Groups, We Effect (formerly Swedish Cooperative Centre) and Swedish Committee for Afghanistan, several critical reflections both on the modality and content of aid have arose. Below I will briefly mention some of them that will be further developed in the paper.

Firstly, at the same time as the international aid community states that its support is based on the ownership and agenda of the partner organisations and on the interest and rights of poor people, it seems to (still) decide the priorities. My observation from having worked with grass-root level associations in two of the poorest countries in the world (Afghanistan 175st and Mozambique 185th place in UNDP HDI list, where 186 is the last), is that poor people mobilise around material and rather short-term objectives, such as increased agriculture production, and less on long-term claims of for example political accountability. On the other hand, this short-term mobilisation has good opportunities to lay the solid foundation for a more long-term commitment. Donors, quite on the contrary, on beforehand decide their civil society programmes to focus on social and political accountability and political reform and advocacy, and that results at this level should be immediate and not as a result of a longer process. The two worlds seem to be far apart.

The second problematic aspect concerns the actual ownership and the impact of the donor driven setting of the agenda where organisations develop their programmes based on funding opportunities. This creates a situation where civil society organisations risk becoming a deliverer of a result to donors, instead of defining their own programmes based on the interest of their constituencies. Civil society organisations following donor demands testify that the formal donor demands make them come further away from their constituencies. There are also numerous examples of organisations changing their whole agenda as funding opportunities change. One example is the excessive funding to aids organisations that was seen in the late 90’s early 00’s that is now on a clear decrease. Accountability becomes a practice that is performed to donors and that is demanded from government but that is rarely given priority within the organisations; between its leaders and its constituency. 

Thirdly, as described above, donors presently tend to prefer to support strengthened citizens’ voice for enhanced social and political accountability. However, of the numerous programmes I have encountered targeting this, and studies carried out within them, the focus, together with the resources, tend to stay at the national level organisations or in the urban centres. Hence, it is problematic to claim that we are talking about citizens’ voice and accountability, in a broader sense, since the organisations included have limited constituencies and legitimacy speak on behalf of a larger share of the population. At the same time, the modern civil society organisations speak of themselves as the representative of the people – sometimes even representing them in the dialogue with the (assumedly elected) government.

In the full paper I will develop these and other arguments around the role of different actors in the aid chain, based on experience from being in the broker in the middle; between the donor agencies and the target group. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014.
Keyword [en]
NGO, development worker, accountability
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Social Sciences, Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-46655OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-46655DiVA: diva2:859383
Conference
Brokers of Aid - Humanitarian Organizations between Donors and Recipients, Södertörns Högskola, Stockholm
Available from: 2015-10-06 Created: 2015-10-06 Last updated: 2015-11-24Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

No full text

Search in DiVA

By author/editor
Johansson, Kajsa
By organisation
Department of Social Studies
Sociology

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar

Total: 78 hits
CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf