One year ago today…

June 29, 2010

After spending a day buried deep in writing about the political and economic history of Honduras for my thesis, the last thing I really feel like doing this evening is more writing.  And yet as the sun sets in NZ and rises on Honduras on June 28 2010, I want to add my two cents (lempiras?) worth to the discussion surrounding the one year anniversary of the coup that ousted President Manuel Zelaya, and which is still not over. Not that I would really characterise it as a conversation, with the two sides still firmly entrenched and with such different and conflicting narratives as this and this.

One year ago we had just arrived in Honduras for nine months of graduate research for my PhD.  While I was well-versed in development theory, and somewhat familiar with the Honduran context I had limited understanding of Honduran politics – after all, I was studying grassroots development and ICT, not political science (although my Honduran husband majored in politics).  Over the next few months I had a crash course, reading all I could from both sides and talking with people on both sides of the divide (often to the detriment of my field research work).

Because I felt unqualified to comment, and because I was worried about my research community (mostly pro-coup) I didn’t write much about the coup for a while.  But it didn’t take long for me to figure out some key truths about who was doing the talking, although I have to confess to becoming heartily sick of the use of the word truth, which was manipulated in many ways in the months following the coup. Eventually, with some trepidation, I came out as resistencia. My reasons for doing so still stand, and another nine months of reading and research have only strengthened my support. In fact nine months after I wrote that post have strongly reinforced the final reason I gave in that most – that this was a clearly a coup to protect the status quo, not for change.

This is something that had really struck me as have been writing the Honduras background information for my thesis. Coups, constitutional manipulations, the use and misuse of power by oligarchs, the business community and the military, corruption, international meddling… there ‘s really nothing new under the Honduran sun (including the names of those involved). Understanding the history of Honduras places so much of what happened last year into context. The coup of 2009 is easily seen as one more attempt by the Honduran ruling elite to maintain their own position, to protect the interests of big business and ensure Honduras remains on a neo-liberal path, following the same policies that have lead to the dire poverty and inequality we see in Honduras today. And so in 2010, under the un-democratically elected Porfirio Lobo, it is literally ‘business as usual’.

But something is different this time. Zelaya may be gone but the events of 28 June 2009 were the spark that ignited a new force for change.  The coup has bought together labour unions, campesino and indigenous groups, womens groups, LGBT groups, academics… Hondurans from across the social spectrum, in a peaceful effort to ‘re-found’ Honduras. The traditional media and the coup supporters may sneer and label them misinformed agitators and haters, but I believe they misunderstand and underestimate the resistencia, the emergence of which is something of huge historical significance in Honduras (although given the human rights abuses directed at the resistencia I suspect the government understands this significance!).

I might not be Honduran, or even in Honduras at this time, but I know with whom I stand this June 28. Not next to the powerful, but with the poor, the indigenous, the disabled, the women and children who have been left behind by Honduran economic ‘development’ time and time again. I do not know what the future will bring, but I do hope that the historical cycle will not continue to repeat and that one day, soon, real change will come to Honduras. The resistencia might not be perfect, but I see more hope there than with any amount of international development aid.

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Just another quick link, this time to Tales from the Hood.  This post on American Culture 101 sums up very nicely a theme I have been seen over and over in my research and which I find quite disturbing – the heroic nature of the (usually white, American) volunteer or development worker, and the patronising and moralising tone of the discourse around the poor and ‘needy’.

We love identifying with the benefactor. We love being the giver.

Not everyone can recall the message of Acts 20:35 offhand. But I’m guessing even many non-Christian Americans are aware of the existence of a Bible verse which says that it’s “more blessed to give than to receive.”

And that gets at the other half of the problem: While we love giving, we’re terrible at receiving.

Our culture is grounded in the belief that we can do it. We can go it alone. We can figure it out… We’d rather be poor and know that what we have we earned ourselves, than accept a handout.

Being able to survive on one’s own strength is almost a moral quality. “She worked hard and took care of her children, despite terrible challenges” = “she is a good person.”

And although we almost never say so directly, needing help is almost, well, immoral.

I just watched the TED talk by Emily Duflo, a French economist who believes it is possible to know which development solutions work and which don’t – by using randomised experimental trials to test different approaches to development problems. I was fascinated with her idea, and can clearly see the how policy-makers and development practitioners could find it useful.  She is right, there is a lack of information on the outcomes of development, and the more information policy makers have the more likely they are to make good decisions.

But I also felt very uncomfortable with the idea.  And I don’t think it was just my natural aversion to numbers and to economists. After some reflection I realised I had three core issues with Duflo’s idea, and these concerns were strong enough to drive me out of my unintentional thesis-writing induced blogging hiatus to post this (particularly as a quick google search didn’t turn up any other bloggers discussing it).

My three concerns are these:

1. Generalisation and over-simplification. Although Duflo does briefly state at the end of her talk that one of the limitations of the idea is that what works in one place may not work in another, I think she underestimates how much of a limitation this is, or perhaps she overestimated just how much the results of an experiment in social policy can be generalised.  Her example of the education experiment is one example.  This experiment showed that one of the most effective ways of increasing the number of years children stay in school is through worm treatment.  This is very likely the case in many areas… where there is a worm problem.  Anyone with a health background might have been able to remind her that this will of course only continue to be effective if treatment is repeated over and over… or if the source of the worms is eradicated. Just giving a worm treatment is simplistic.  Unfortunately while most development problems are more complex and multi-faceted, experiments by nature are only able to test a limited number of variables and therefore lend themselves to simplistic solutions.

2. Developing world comunities as experiment subjects. While I know Duflo and her research group probably have great motivations and want to help find development solutions, I feel very uncomfortable with the idea of using experimental methods in this context.  There are significant ethical issues related to knowledge and power, including questions who is designing and running the experiment, who owns the data, how the participant communities are represented. There’s a paternalism inherent in the idea of doing experiments like this, where white western researchers define the problem and offer the  solutions. I admit I don’t know how much input she has had from participant communities and developing world researchers, but at this point the whole idea of doing experiments on developing world communities seems rather neo-colonial to me.

3. Ignorance of structural and institutional injustice. This relates to point 1 and over-simplification. Duflo thinks that underdevelopment can be addressed by addressing the smaller problems – getting kids immunised or into school for example.  This is similar to an idea I have heard from research participants in my own research – that development is the sum of many small changes, from the bottom up.  I was not convinced when I did my research, and I am not convinced now.  While there is, and will always be some value in making changes at a grassroots or community level, I don’t believe that these changes are enough.  Solutions like those offered by Duflo do not take into account structural and institutional conditions that perpetuate systems of poverty. Racism and sexism, class and caste systems, corruption, these all contribute to poverty and until these are addressed (and the way in which they are addressed will differ between communities) there will be no significant development.

While I can appreciate the value of Duflos work for those working on specific development problems in defined areas, these issues ring big alarm bells for me.  It seems to much of a western-expert-led quick-fix-solution to me and I wouldn’t like to see it replacing long term qualitative research and development experience, and even less, usurping the knowledge of developing world communities themselves.

As an antidote to the discourse on saving the developing world, perhaps Duflo might benefit from some conversation with Design for the First World, a competition for designers, artists, scientists, makers and thinkers in developing countries to provide solutions for First World problems.

I think the world need more of this kind of thinking.

Our fellows in the first world often come to visit and give us their well intentioned but often very problematic ‘solutions’. We thought, why don’t we pay back? Dx1W is a competition for designers, artists, scientists, makers and thinkers in developing countries to provide solutions for First World problems.

From my research blog:

Hi from New Zealand! We have been back in New Zealand for a month now, have settled in our new home and are now well immersed back into the university routine so it really is about time I posted here. Because I have been busy with travel, moving and settling in work on my thesis has slowed to a snail pace but there are a few things I should catch you up on.

After leaving Honduras in early February I participated in the Doctoral Colloquium at the CSCW (Computer Supported Cooperative Work) conference in Savannah, Georgia. It was a very interesting experience, which reinforced the relevance of my study. In the midst of a sea of brand new applications and web tools, the more than ten years of experience the network I am studying has was of great interest to many. While I went there to learn more about CSCW and computing, I found that I spent a lot of my time sharing what I have learned. As there seemed to be a lot of interest I am currently thinking about expanding my presentation into a journal article.

While there is much I could write (and will write) about the computing aspects of this study, this is a development studies thesis, and my interest is evolving well beyond the internet networking. The network founder uses the term ‘human capital’ to refer to people’s “time, energy, expertise, experience, talent, and contacts”. As I continue my analysis and start writing it is the people and organisations within the network and what they are saying and doing that is capturing more and more of my attention. I’m also interested in the philosophy of the network (constructive, positive and apolitical) and how people in the network interpret and work within that space, and how this all interrelates as a model for development.

So onwards I go. I am still trying to finish up some last minute interviews via the internet, and working on transcribing and coding those that I have completed. Within the next few weeks I hope to finally start putting some words on paper (or at least on the screen) and starting to write. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Although we are back in New Zealand I have been trying to follow the continuing political events in Honduras, although it is somewhat depressing.  Unsurprisingly the coup goes on, and coup participants have been appointed to important posts.  Fortunately (although under-reported) the resistance continues the Frente Nacional de Resistencia Popular of Honduras holds its second Encuentro Nacional por la Refundación de Honduras (National Meeting for the Refounding of Honduras). The Frente is aiming for a constitutional assembly, in order to create a democratic, inclusive and participatory Constitution.  For more information about the Frente and the ongoing events in Honduras check Quotha and the Honduran Culture and Politics blog, both written by academics with close ties to Honduras.

Another blog favourite of mine is Mama PhD, and this week Math Geek Mom wrote a post on her thoughts on “We are the World” asking about what Americans can do to help the poor in other parts of the world.  Unfortunately (but perhaps not surprisingly) until I commented she hadn’t had any comments, which is a shame as it would have been interesting to see a discussion on the topic.

On the topic of poverty Delia Christina of  Bitch, PhD has a post up titled If only the poor were more like me, which comments on a post by the Fat Nutritionist. Her final line: “So until we are prepared to solve the ‘problem’ of their poverty first, perhaps we should keep mum with our ‘advice’ to poor families about making better nutritional ‘choices’.” I agree entirely. Interestingly, it follows a similar line of reasoning to two development related posts this week, Drinking our own ORS by Blood and Milk, and Would you be willing to do this by Good Intentions are not Enough.  These posts pose difficult questions about the kind of advice and aid we give people, while we ourselves live comfortably.

Finally, on a lighter note, I really enjoyed Serious Eats bean to bar tutorial on Understanding Chocolate Basics, and this photo from Antigua Daily Photo, which is so me…

I have bee n reading and enjoying Alanna Shaikh’s blog Blood and Milk lately, and and today she has another pithy post up on  Why you can’t understand global health. I agree with her basic premise completely – even with years of nursing, overseas volunteer work and postgraduate study in development I still have no idea of how it is to live in the zero-sum game that is the life of the very poor.

But it got me to thinking about how we can start to learn about it.  I don’t know that experience, but my husband does.  He was born into a poor family in a small, third-world town.  I learn from his experience.  I refer to his expertise often in my work and writing.  And he is not alone.  The world is now so interconnected.  While there are still many living in poverty there are also the lucky ones who escaped.  How can we utilise their experience and expertise?

It also reinforces my belief in the value of the academic work of social scientists, particularly anthropologists.  Too often in health care and development we prioritise technical knowledge and skills. Long term and in depth ethnographic study of communities and their lifestyles, culture and values could add so much to the design of appropriate and effective interventions.  Yet it is rarely done… it doesn’t fit well in the project life-cycle.

So often the voice of the poor themselves is missing from health and development literature.  But itw ill take  time to stop and listen, and a change of mind-set to value the knowledge they have.

Marianne is writing an interesting series of blog posts addressing questions about aid and development organisations at Zen and the Art of Peacekeeping.  Today’s post was on a topic I have great interest in, Secular vs Religious Organisations.  I attempted to leave a comment on there but typepad will not accept it so I am posting it here:

“Great question, more relevant than most secular NZers would probably realise. I don’t know what it is like in Afghanistan, but here in Honduras there are literally thousands of volunteer and professional development agencies and a huge percentage are religious. As a result I have spent a lot of time with religious groups in the course of my research. I certainly agree that there is a clear distinction between evangelical (proselytising) and non-evangelical groups, and that the development efforts of the latter are often amongst the best. I do have some concerns however, from my close association with religious groups and my own religious upbringing, regarding religious agencies. We are all products of our culture and history, and Christian agencies carry the legacy of their background and beliefs with them wherever they go. These do have an influence on where they go and what they do. This may be positive (a focus on peace, acceptance of all, preference for the poor), or it may be negative (restrictions on the types of programs that can be run, ultra-conservative moral values). I guess as with all decisions about support for aid and development, the key is to research well the organisations you are interested in, find out what type of programmes and projects they run, and investigate their underlying values so that you know your money is going where your heart is.”

I guess you could call this a reveal, or a coming out. I’ve carefully and deliberately kept this blog apolitical for what I considered to be very good reasons, but those reasons don’t seem to be making much sense any longer, and I don’t want to keep quiet about it anymore.

On June 28, when Zelaya was removed from office and flown out of the country I has only been back in Honduras for a couple of weeks.  I was out of touch with the political climate and atmosphere in the country, and felt I didn’t know enough about Honduran politics to have an educated opinion.  In addition I was here primarily to do research and didn’t want to risk compromising that.  However over the past 3 months I have watched, listened and discussed the events unfolding and my initial neutrality has given way to open support for the resistencia.   Here’s why.

  • I don’t trust MichelettiWhile there has been ample discussion of Zelaya’s sins in the traditional media here in Honduras, and in online media, I have been surprised at how little  talk there has been regarding Micheletti and others in the defacto government.  Without even having to look into the past, or at the accusations of death squads and violent repression, it is easy to see actions that are far from ethical. The manner of Zelaya’s illegal removal from the country (even coup supporters will admit that now), the faked resignation letter, the forced closure of pro-Zelaya media outlets, the overkill of a nation-wide 48 hour curfew… none of this is the behavior of an honest and responsible democratic government.  With accusations of disappearing money and the selling off of grain reserves, one has to wonder what is actually happening behind the scenes.
  • The constitutionMaybe it is because I come from a country without a codified constitution, or maybe it is just because I am not a political or legal scholar, but the constitutional arguments don’t convince me.  The Honduran constitution has been bent backwards and forwards by both sides to try and support their position, and as a result it is perhaps no wonder Oscar Arias called the Honduran constitution the worst in the world.  While that might be an overstatement, from what I can tell the constitution appears to have hindered, rather than helped the democratic process.  A constitution that has articles that simply cannot be altered, and that make it difficult or even impossible for the people to instigate change, is at best a dinosaur, and at worst repressive of future generations.  Additionally, while the argument for Zelaya’s removal rests on the importance of upholding the constitution, it wasn’t a problem for the Micheletti government to suspend constitutional civil rights it on Zelaya’s return, indeed it seems to be becoming a major problem for them to reinstate them.
  • Misinformation, disinformationControl of the media seems to be one of the key strategies of Michelitti’s government. Certainly here within Honduras it is difficult to find any traditional media outlets not endlessly repeating the governments line and pro-Zelaya outlets have been shut down for inciting rebellion and uprising.  However I find it hard to believe that this was done in the public’s interest, as in several days of watching Canal 57 (Cholusat) near continuously my husband and I did not once hear Zelaya call for violence, although he did call his supporters to Tegucigalpa for peaceful protest.  We also did hear many callers describing the violent and repressive actions of the police and military in their neighbourhoods.  Characterising pro-Zelaya media outlets as inciters of violence allowed the regime to shut them down, and to shut down any reports that were not favorable to their regime. Again, this is not the actions of a democratic and enlightened government.I am also comfortably certain that the pro-coup media’s characterisation of Zelaya supporters as violent thugs, paid mercenaries or ignorant and uneducated is not correct.  While my academic background leads me to be highly suspicious of anecdotal evidence (and yes this post is full of it), this characterisation has not been my experience or observation. The resistence includes people from all walks of life. The Zelaya supporters I’ve met include grandmothers, small business owners and farmers. While I don’t deny there has been violence I don’t believe there is a simple “they are bad” explanation. For example in mid-July my husband had an interesting conversation with  a young street kid in Tegucigalpa who had no political interest (or knowledge) but who had joined the pro-Zelaya marches with his friends and thrown stones at the police for the fun of it.   More recently, on 21 Sept when Zelaya returned to Honduras, I spent the day watching TV footage of peaceful, happy Zelaya supporters outside the Brazilian Embassy, later I was saddened to watch scenes of chaos in that same street as the police and army moved in.  The violence is not necessarily endorsed, nor perpetrated by Zelaya or the resistance.

    Another example of misinformation from the media and many pro-coup commentators is that most of Honduras is supportive of Micheletti and the new government.  Again at risk of being accused of using anecdotal evidence, I have to say the majority of Hondurans my husband and I have spoken to are either pro-Zelaya or are ambivalent.  More convincingly, last week poll results from the authorized polling agency for the Honduran elections were released, which showed only 17.4% were in favor of the June 28 ousting of Zelaya, and 52.7% against. Interestingly I don’t think this poll was reported in the newpapers here.

  • The root of the crisis is fearSocialist, communist, dictator… there was , and is, a strong fear that Zelaya was going to usher in an era of Chavez-style politics to Honduras.  I am less interested in whether or not he was going to do that (and I’m not convinced he would have been able to anyway) than I am in the underlying fear of the left that drove Micheletti and co to desperate measures.  This fear is reflected throughout the pro-coup media and blogosphere, and I have been very frustrated over the past months reading posts and articles endlessly misusing the terms socialist and communist, and misunderstanding left wing politics and the rise of the left in Latin America. The United States has done very well promoting a right-wing, market-oriented form of development, and at vilifying all other approaches.  To read some of the pro-coup postings on the web is to step back to the cold war and to feel the fear of communism, ironically a communism that Zelaya was far far away from implementing. Talking to the poor, raising the minimum wage, convening a national constituent assembly… this is not communism, nor even socialism.  But it was enough for the elites and business community to feel threatened.
  • This is no changeFollowing on from the above – this was a clearly a coup to protect the status quo, not for change.  The coup leaders have vested interest in maintaining Honduras the way it was.  Michelettistas don’t like the term oligarchy, and would love to contest the idea that Honduras is run by just 10 families, but they can’t deny that the coup leaders are largely from the social class that had the most to loose from a change to the left. The coup was a means of retaining, rather than taking power. I don’t believe they were thinking of the good of the country, or of the poor when they took the actions they did, but rather of saving their position and power, and their businesses. The coup does not represent a fresh start for Honduras, but the ability for Honduras to continue with business as usual.  It means business as usual for the poor, selling candy on the street, picking someone else’s coffee, buying just a few tortillas with a little salt to feed their children.

So this is why I support the resistencia. Not because I think Zelaya is wonderful.  He’s not.  Not because I think Micheletti is evil, although I am very worried about what he is up to.  Because I want to align myself with the poor, with those that don’t have a voice, with those that will loose whoever wins the political battle.  I support the resistencia because I see this as an opening to begin a conversation about a Honduras that works for all, about what real change would mean.  Not a change controlled by the elite for their own benefit, but one where all Hondurans get a voice.

If you want to read more about the Honduran crisis (in English), I can recommend the following thoughtful and insightful blogs:

Honduras Coup 2009 – “Responses to the Coup d’etat in Honduras on Sunday June 28, with special emphasis on producing English-language versions of commentaries by Honduran scholars and editorial writers and addressing the confusion encouraged by lack of basic knowledge about Honduras.”

Quotha – Anthropologist Adrienne Pine posts online field notes and first-hand accounts of the coup from Hondurans.

Hermano Juancito

Carne con Frijol

El  Cinquito

While I should really be planning interviews, transcribing or otherwise engaged with my research work, I’ve been distracted this morning by a foray into the world of aid worker blogs, and specifically an ongoing conversation about the role, or non-role, of expatriate volunteers in aid projects.  This is a topic I have a great interest in – being central to both my Masters and PhD research, and to my own experience as a wanna-be volunteer.

It started with a single tweet from @SarahMDC:   “Good dig at some of the muky issues surrounding international dev #volunteers + volunteer projects http://digg.com/u18jMS“.  The link is to Tales From the Hood, and the post is the final in a series on international volunteers.  I found myself nodding in agreement with the post as it reflected my own academic scepticism of international volunteers, particilarly short term ones.  It set me thinking once again about my reasons for pursuing post-graduate study in development, and for choosing my research topic.

Here’s an abridged excerpt from some work I did last year on international volunteering:

Despite mounting evidence of the altruistic nature, and global popularity of international volunteering, I remained in a critical frame of mind.  Much of the literature surrounding volunteering for development is explicitly positive, identifying it is something that can potentially shape such new thinking and help to ‘humanise’ globalisation (Lewis, 2005, p. 15).  However I was reading with the eyes of a cynic, and found that not only was it easy to find literature that highlighted the problems with international volunteering, it seemed the critiques overshadowed the positivity.

The first criticism is the related to altruism.  While volunteering is generally considered an altruistic activity, in most cases there is considerable benefit to the volunteer, perhaps even more than to the community or hosts.  Benefits to the volunteer include personal development, enhanced career prospects, friendship and adventure . This criticism is strengthened by the lack of research on the impacts on communities, who arguably may in fact be adversely affected as they spend time, energy and resources to accommodate the volunteer. This argument is particularly directed at volunteer tourism, where programmes may be explicitly developed for, or marketed to tourists rather than being developed from and for the community to be served.

In addition to this, while one of the purported benefits of international volunteering is the development of cross-cultural appreciation and understanding, research suggests that it may actually have the reverse effect, reinforcing stereotypes and actively promoting an image of a ‘third world other’ that is dominated an ‘us and them’ mindset…  The ‘us and them’ mentality is reinforced by the inherent inequality of the volunteer experience, where “the processes that allow young westerners to access the financial resources, and moral imperatives, necessary to travel and volunteer in a ‘third world country’, are the same as the ones that make the reverse process almost impossible” (Simpson, 2004).

International volunteering is also criticised as the volunteers come from outside the host community, with limited skills, experience, and understanding of the local context.  My research on short term, volunteer medical missions was very critical on this point, arguing that language and cultural differences, inadequate resources and time, and a lack of local knowledge significantly limits what the volunteers could do and often results in poor medical care.  (Other studies have found that short term volunteers programmes may) encourage the (false) view that development is a simple matter, and something which can be ‘done’ by non-skilled, but enthusiastic volunteer-tourists.

Another criticism is that international volunteering cultivates dependency.  A host community may become dependent on volunteers and voluntary programmes when these are promoted at the expense of longer term or community driven initiatives.  Dependency is also fostered when volunteers undermine the dignity of communities with handouts.  In addition Western volunteers can be seen as ‘modelling’ a lifestyle of cultural and material values that may be inappropriate, and which promotes modernisation, or development as westernisation.

All of these are reflected in the significant criticism of neo-colonialism.  This criticism… is reinforced by claims that volunteer programmes are built on the structures of colonialism (Smith & Elkin, 1980), use developing countries as training grounds for future professionals (Raymond & Hall, 2008) and are modelling a Western way of living (Roberts; Simpson, 2004).  At it’s extreme, is the argument that international volunteers are a form of Northern imperialism, as their activities boost Northern Government interests rather than tackling the root causes of poverty and injustice (Devereux, 2008).

This excerpt is part of a larger piece that explores both the positive and critical literature on international volunteering, and expands on the ideas as they apply to my research (probably not so interesting to blog readers!). It ends on a more hopeful note, one that is looking forward, looking for ways in which the passion and skills of wanna-be volunteers  (like myself 10 years ago) can be harnessed in ways that are mutually beneficial and constructive; and in which Westeners can learn about the reality of life in other parts of the world in way that break down rather than reinforce stereotypes.  I find it interesting that this is actually the starting place for the series from Tales From the Hood:

Appropriate, structured cultural exchange can be a very positive thing.This, I think, is an important starting place…  We blame lack of having traveled and lack of awareness and understanding of international issues for everything from Third World Poverty to the fact the George W. Bush initiated the Iraq war. But then, when someone has the idea of taking some ordinary citizens from “here” and letting them see what it’s like “over there”, we’re very quick to pick them apart for that. And perhaps in some cases, rightly so. But we ourselves offer no alternatives.

We need an accepted mechanism for exposing aid-work-outsiders. Our work is critical. It is (or should be) making a difference…
But we need a way to meaningfully and appropriately expose our work to our third audience: ordinary people in our home countries. I’m not saying development tourism is the answer. But it’s one possibility.

I guess I have taken this as my challenge.  I’m not sure whether my PhD study will find any definitive answers (actually I’m quite sure it won’t) but I know the questions will continue to haunt me in my future career, be it academic or in practice.

For now I really need to get back to work.  There will be no answers without actually doing some research.

Some other good posts on the issue:
Good intentions are not enough (series on guidelines for international volunteers)
Aid Watch

Next post – back to the non-drama of living and doing research during a (non-?) coup!

So, after some dramatic statements, much speculation, many rumours and very little consulting, Murray McCully has announced that NZAid will be merged back into MFAT. Along with this it’s mandate will change from poverty alleviation to economic growth.  In other words from a comprehensive policy that is used by the UN and many others in the international development community, to a narrow, economically defined model that has been shown to be ineffective at reaching the poorest.  

It all makes me very glad I never did manage to get a job at NZAid.

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