July 09, 2010
  Governance Information Bulletin #13 Subscribe | Unsubscribe

Aid Strategies and Democracy Assistance

Andrew Natsios

This essay by the former USAID administrator discusses how that organization has been hampered by excessive bureaucracy. While this is a common description of USAID, Natsios comprehensively demonstrates how USAID has taken its current form by exposing its historical relationship with other agencies of the US government. He argues that USAID suffers from a ‘counter-bureaucracy’ that prizes compliance over actual development work. This counter-bureaucracy is located in different agencies around the US government and enforces rigid procurement and reporting standards. Their ultimate effect is to make USAID a producer of information for multiple US government oversight agencies and not development solutions to non-wealthy nations. Natsios shows how this tendency to focus on quantifiable deliverables is descended from the management philosophy of Robert McNamara during his tenure as Secretary of Defense and President of the World Bank. Once imposed upon USAID and other development initiatives like PEPFAR, it has forced project design to measure success in terms of quantities of services delivered and not based on institution- and capacity-building. The result are programs that function as emergency relief yet are entirely unsustainable. Overall, this piece is essential reading.


Kate Higgins and Susan Prowse

This working paper by Kate Higgins and Susan Prowse from the Overseas Development Institute explores how the Aid for Trade program can promtoe economic growth and reduce poverty. With the global economic downturn and the placement of Aid for Trade on the international development agenda, Aid for Trade can support national growth by enhancing comparative/competitive advantage, reduces risks related to trade, and can address climate change issues. It begins by exploring the relationships between trade, economic growth, and poverty. Given this theoretical foundation, the authors argue that Aid for Trade should support trade policies that are congruent with poverty reduction efforts, support trade expansion to increase personal incomes, and offset the negative effects of trade changes on poor people. The authors then review what Aid for Trade ought to do regarding trade policy regulations, trade-related infrastructure, productive capacity-building (including trade development), and trade-related adjustment. Finally, they conclude by noting that Aid for Trade should maximize the benefits of trade while limiting its negative byproducts. In this way, Aid for Trade will increase countries' export potential and encourage beneficial interactions between markets and poor individuals. >>>

Governance and Public Sector Performance

David Monk

In this piece, David Monk of the Crawford School at the Austrailian National University develops a conceptual framework that can be used to examine effectiveness among parliamentary committees in both quantitative and qualitative terms. Effectiveness is measured by referring to the subjective responses of different groups to Austrailian parliamentary committee reports and recommendations. This approach has also been used in evaluating the committee effectiveness of the United Kingdom’s parliament.  The author shows that parliamentarians seek to have their recommendations accepted and implemented, and this drives them to produce higher quality committee work. Finally, he examines how different groups (the overall legislature, stakeholders, and voters all perceive committee work and effectiveness. >>>

Nicolas Garrigue (ed.)

In “Local Democracy…”, Nicolas Garrigue leads a team of researchers from the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance in investigating the strengths and weaknesses of local democracy in the northern department of Haiti known as Cap Haitien. They demonstrate that security and the protection of human rights is especially lacking due to limited training and personnel among the Haitian National Police. Although money is set aside for parliamentarians to receive constituents in Cap Haitian, MPs apparently have not made any effort to do so. Local representation does exist in the form of the city council with elected representatives, yet they have not taken office. Most importantly in terms of democracy, local elections are held freely and result in multiple parties claiming seats on the city council with the Lavalas Party finding the most success. The authors positively report that the City Council and the Mayor get along quite well, with a clear division of labor and acceptance of each institution’s responsibilities.  >>>

Ricardo Hausmann and Bailey Klinger

Written on behalf of the International Development Bank, this paper examines how Ecuador’s economy has evolved over the past 30 years and the prospects of future macro-level changes. The authors argue that Ecuador’s economy has been driven primarily by exports such as oil, cash crops, and animal products. They also demonstrate the basis of Ecuador’s comparative advantage in these three sectors. However, the country has never broadened its ‘export basket’ through entry into new economic sectors with new exports. The authors illustrate the cause of Ecuador’s stagnation and attribute it to its peripheral location in the ‘product space’, which refers to the distance between relevant actors and suppliers in the production process. Compared to countries Argentina, Brazil, and Colombia, Ecuador has fewer opportunities across sectors. >>>



Centre for Democracy and Human Rights

This report investigates the degree to which post-war reconstruction in Sierra Leone is maintaining good governance standards of transparency and accountability. It argues that in the Tonkolili District, corruption is a persistent problem that hinders reconstruction and often leaves many projects unfinished. The entire reconstruction project is thus seen by some Sierra Leonians as ‘the grass of the rich’, a resource for their own consumption. These findings are based on the Centre’s implementation of the Community Oversight and Monitoring Project in the District. Based on its work, the report describes the Project’s observations and makes several recommendations as to improve transparency and accountability in reconstruction projects. These include the promotion of public awareness of transparency and accountability, illustrating to the Government of Sierra Leone the gaps in the reconstruction process, and promotion of community-based monitoring systems. >>>

Marika Theros and Iavor Rangelov

In this report, Marika Theros and Iavor Rangelov interview national and international personnel in Kabul about their perceptions about government legitimacy, corruption, and the ongoing insurgency and counterinsurgency. They find that most actors perceive that the ongoing conflict involves a great deal of collusion among government officials with warlords, drug traffickers, and the insurgency. In addition, they highlight how the distribution of aid and military contracts serves to fuel the war by creating perverse incentives for both governmental and non-governmental actors to make money at the expense of stability. National interviewees also criticized the international aid effort for being too wrapped up in security concerns and promoting one-size-fits-all technical assistance that fails to address the root needs of everyday Afghans. They also criticized the entire process of state-building as promoted by the international community for not engaging with local NGOs and leadership and only prioritizing engagement with warlords that still subvert the state. Lastly, the authors discuss how Afghan interviewees support efforts at reconciliation with the Taliban, but not at the expense of justice or constitutional protections for women and human rights. >>>


International Crisis Group

This ICG Report discusses the present status of Saad Hariri’s Future Current movement in Lebanon. Future Current has emerged out of the political turmoil that defined Lebanon following the assassination of Saad Hariri’s father, Rafic Hariri. The rise of a single Sunni movement that seeks to strengthen the Lebanese state has served as a final departure from pan-Arabism and a turning inwards toward Lebanese institutions. In addition, the rise of Future Current has also been part of increased sectarian tensions between Sunnis and Lebanese Shi’a, which are strongly represented by Hezbollah. These internal realignments has coincided with international ones, including Hariri’s turn toward the West and away from Syria, which is suspected in the assassination of his father. Most importantly, the Report concludes with a discussion of the patron-client organization of Future Current, and how its institutionalization into a sustainable political party will require that Hariri relinquish some control.  >>>

Message from the Editor

Below please find the thirteenth edition of SUNY/CID’s Governance Information Bulletin [GIB], our first after a hiatus of several months.   It draws attention to materials about technical matters involved in strengthening national, regional and local political institutions, as well as to broader issues of aid strategies, democracy assistance, government and public sector performance, and to developments in countries and regions where we are working.   Each entry provides a link to a larger piece of research in the title and at the end of the entry.

Many thanks for your attention. We welcome all questions, comments and suggestions at gib@cid.suny.edu.  

In This Issue

The Clash of the Counter-bureaucracy and Development
Trade, growth and poverty: making Aid for Trade work for inclusive growth and poverty reduction
In the Eye of the Beholder? A Framework for Testing the Effectiveness of Parliamentary Committees
Local Democracy in the Municipality of Cap Haitien Structural Transformation in Ecuador
'The Grass of the Rich’? Integrity and Post-war Reconstruction in the Tonkoliki District of Sierra Leone
Lebanon’s Politics: The Sunni Community and Hariri’s Future Current

Development and Governance Blogs

The Private Sector Development Blog is written by a group of private sector development professionals who discuss how private sector growth can help reduce poverty.

Duncan Green’s From Poverty to Power is a conversational blog intended to explore Oxfam development concepts and wider development issues.

Chris Blattman is an Assistant Professor at Yale University who writes about international conflict, poverty and development, and participation in governance.

The Financial Access Initiative blog discusses ways to ensure that people in developing countries can use and access financial services.

Free Range International is written by development and security professionals operating in southern Afghanistan.

The Acumen Fund is written by staff members of that organization who write about their experiences while on the ground in posting around the world.

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