The unanticipated results of aid

November 23, 2009

Despite decades of improvements, the outcome of development assistance is rarely as intended. A new thesis from the University of Gothenburg examines why the results of an intervention are so often different from that which was intended when it was formulated.

- My point of departure is that aid entails intervention, says Malin Hasselskog, who is publicly defending her thesis in peace and development research.

Aid introduces something new from the outside. It might involve technology, expertise, values, economic systems, political structures or something else. However, the clear, though frequently tacit, intention is always to change or replace something that already exists. The notion that it is thereby possible to produce a particular type of development is based on certain assumptions about how social change takes place and which roles different actors have.

Malin Hasselskog emphasises that talking about aid in terms of intervention is not criticism in itself.

- However, it is important to illuminate the interventionist aspect and to scrutinize the underlying assumptions.

MORE RADICAL INTERVENTION

As the methods have become increasingly sophisticated and the inputs increasingly extensive, in many cases the aid has also entailed more radical intervention. From having previously involved individual projects, today the aim of much of aid is far-reaching changes in the recipient country's entire economic and political system. Malin Hasselskog scrutinises the underlying rationality and among other things reveals a view that social development is technical and rational, making it possible to formulate an input of aid in detail and predict its progress and results. She emphasises that few people concur with this view of society when it is articulated. Nevertheless, aid is implemented as if it was based on such conceptions.

Malin Hasselskog also demonstrates how aid entails an encounter and interaction with the local community. Through ethnographic studies in three villages in Cambodia she has studied how the population perceives and relates to the aid that they encounter in their everyday lives. The studies illustrate how one and the same input of aid initiates different processes depending on a number of local factors, and that the results therefore differ from case to case and are rarely those that were intended. In direct opposition to the assumption that it is possible to design and control social development, it is not possible to know what a contribution will lead to.

The inference of this is not that attempts to reduce poverty, injustice and human suffering should cease. However, what is needed are not even more sophisticated methods and even more extensive contributions, but simple interventions that allow disparate developments and results.

- There are still reasons to intervene in poor societies. But in the final analysis what an intervention leads to must be determined by local circumstances and the way in which people react.
-end-
Title of the thesis: Development Intervention on the Ground. Inherent rationales of aid and their encounter with local dynamics in three Cambodian villages

E-link: http://hdl.handle.net/2077/21129

The thesis can be ordered from ewa.sjolin@globalstudies.gu.se, SEK 150 excluding postage.

University of Gothenburg

Related Intervention Articles from Brightsurf:

For toddlers with autism, more intervention hours are not necessarily better
Two prominent early intervention models for toddlers with autism show a very similar impact, whether delivered at 15-hours or 25-hours per week intensities, a UC Davis MIND Institute study has found.

Brief intervention could keep lower-risk drug use from becoming riskier: BU study
A new pilot randomized trial by researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) and School of Medicine (BUSM) and Boston Medical Center (BMC) finds that a brief intervention for people with lower-risk drug use may help prevent increased and riskier use, as well as other health issues.

Impact of postdilation on intervention success and MACE
In a new publication from Cardiovascular Innovations and Applications; DOI https://doi.org/10.15212/CVIA.2019.0564, the authors consider the impact of postdilation on intervention success and long-term major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE) among patients with acute coronary syndromes.

Addiction intervention in hospital is a 'reachable moment'
Patients who meet an addiction medicine consult team while they're in the hospital are twice as likely to participate in treatment for substance use disorder after they go home, according to new research.

New target for drug intervention in Alzheimer's disease identified
Scientists at UAB have identified an enzyme in the brain, LIMK1, that may be an intriguing target for interventions against Alzheimer's disease and other dementias.

College drinking intervention strategies need a refresh
Peer approval is the best indicator of the tendency for new college students to drink or smoke according to new research from Michigan State University.

Online intervention shows promise in HIV prevention
A team led by José Bauermeister, Ph.D., M.P.H., Presidential Professor of Nursing and Director of the Program on Sexuality, Technology, & Action Research (PSTAR), at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing (Penn Nursing) designed the My Desires & Expectations (myDEx) tool to address cognitive and emotional factors that influence YGBMSM sexual decision-making when seeking partners online. myDEx was pilot tested in a randomized trial over 90 days with 180 YGBMSM participants.

Intervention can boost rates of exclusive breastfeeding
Providing additional support to women in Burkina Faso can boost rates of exclusive breastfeeding.

Couples intervention may help partners of patients with diabetes
A new Diabetic Medicine study reveals that couples interventions may have beneficial effects for partners of individuals with type 2 diabetes.

Exercise intervention benefits older hospitalized patients
A randomized clinical trial in Spain that included 370 hospitalized patients 75 or older showed an exercise intervention was effective at helping to reverse the functional decline associated with hospitalization for older patients.

Read More: Intervention News and Intervention Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.