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So Near and Yet So Far in Ethiopia: Values and Mental Models Along the Aid Chain Paper for presentation at the DSA Conference, London, 5th November 2010.

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Presentation on theme: "So Near and Yet So Far in Ethiopia: Values and Mental Models Along the Aid Chain Paper for presentation at the DSA Conference, London, 5th November 2010."— Presentation transcript:

1 So Near and Yet So Far in Ethiopia: Values and Mental Models Along the Aid Chain Paper for presentation at the DSA Conference, London, 5th November 2010 Panel: Poverty Reduction as Development Morality - Theory & Practice Virginia Williamson

2 Perception and Practice: Participation, Evaluation and Aid Harmonisation in Ethiopia Perception and practice: among donor staff, regional and local government staff, and local populations (gathered via semi-structured interviews and by textual analysis of donor documents) what cultural and institutional factors affect participation in evaluation? what role does participation in M&E play in donors development strategies/performance management/organisational learning? Doctoral research: What accounts for the variation in forms of participation in evaluation of donor-funded aid programmes?

3 Shared Mental Models framework decision-making is governed by uncertainty rather than risk mental models are formed from culture and belief systems (religion and/or ideology) sustained sharing of information permits mutual understanding and thus learning shifts in MM are aided by the plasticity of language significant shifts only occur when A adopts Bs mental model because it explains a crisis which As MM has failed to do. Underlying approach: Longs social actor Analytical model: Denzau, A. T. and North, D. C. (1994). Shared Mental Models: Ideologies and Institutions. Kyklos. 47 (1), Mental model A (recipient) Mental model B (donor)

4 Ethiopia - context (1) Historical and political context: Foundation myth - Sheba, Solomon, Menelik (Kebre Negast C14th) Religious syncretism (tho 16th Islamic incursion) Meles Zenawi, EPRDF, Revolutionary Democracy 2005 and 2010 elections. Northern highland regions Well-being and Ill-being in Development, Ethiopia (WIDE, 2003) Trust, individualism v. the collective Tight self-regulation in labour-sharing, burial, self-help, rotating credit or religion-based associations Government has re-categorised mass organisations as CSOs Weak civil society Associational life and civil society:

5 Harmonisation in Ethiopia - dialogue architecture ( )

6 Participation and evaluation - government-community sphere Participation 21/22 days contribution of labour per year Development activities announced in church compound on Sundays, evaluated on saints days Activities specified by Bureau of Agriculture/DAs, organised and monitored by development group leaders and then cell leaders; sanctions imposed for non-participation Contribution of ideas in meetings Persuasion used to rally consensus; displays of oratory; judicious silence sometimes admired Majority voting increasingly used, but minority left alone Evaluation Cell leaders collect (i) data - agriculture, household assets, (ii) taxes Weekly/fortnightly/monthly evaluation through public self-criticism, thro tiers of government Contrition keeps the subject of criticism within the group Woreda (district) Kebele/tabia (large village) Got/kushet (hamlet) Development group Cell

7 Participation and evaluation - donor perception and practice Participation Range of opinion: Discussion of participation proved difficult, particularly for national staff Conceptions ranged from use of civil society organisations in planning and monitoring PRSP to individual empowerment to We dont really know what goes on, but we hope things are improving Long-term engagement provides greater institutional knowledge but frequent rotations reduced effectiveness; internationals rely on national staff for institutional memory Political v. Technical: Development is now political, so role and status of technical experts is reduced More time talking to other donors than to government; need to influence and promote agencys expertise - political skills which had to be learnt Increased reliance on Washington for data, and Paris for strategy Evaluation Amount of technical reporting reduced at HQs request; more emphasis on political reporting Concern about the logic of PIs and their progress would be mechanistic; donors should facilitate not interfere, but also experienced difficulty gaining access. Opinion ranged from dependability of government data to need to collect information from other sources as a reality check Donor evaluations rarely undertaken ? obviated by NAA.

8 Values, profession and identity Local leader (multiple core identity, shared with others despite contestations) Metropolitan Expert Donor National (Field) (Embassy) National donor staff (national in the embassy, habesha and donor in the field) DONOR COMMUNITY (Some like-minded, some not) NGO experience Technical specialist Bureaucrat Donor International donor staff (identity linked to training and experience) CIDA >civil servants, different nationalities DCI >former NGO staff Sida >senior, technical staff

9 Congruence, ambiguity and disjuncture CongruenceDisjunctureAmbiguity Participation: Skilled speech Exhortation Consensus Knowledgeable/weak capacity dyad Reliance on quantitative data Ideology Evaluation Process The project of development Participation: contribution Social capital Agency and voice

10 Values, communication and information Leading member of international community, committed to harmonisation Multiculturalism at home, importance of social cohesion (GLOBAL SECURITY) Development essential part of foreign policy objectives: jobs and prosperity; common security; and Canadian values and culture Canada solidarity with the underprivileged is regarded as a moral responsibility Professionally, strong normative drive, self- critical (SOLIDARITY/KNOWLEDGE) At home: trust, cooperation, equality and moderation important. Associational membership 92%. Sweden at the cutting edge of international development policy Roman Catholic missionary work provided a template for Irish aid own experience of colonisation, poverty, famine and mass emigration has provided a basis for a long tradition of solidarity with the poor and dispossessed(EMPATHY) At home: Strict rules about social actions; importance of consensus; the opinions/wishes of the individual are unimportant/politically divisive. Ireland

11 Spatial and conceptual proximity

12 Conclusions Shared Mental Models approach: analyses rate of change identifies areas of congruence, ambiguity and disjuncture as opportunities for improved communication and therefore learning is inherently reflexive. Using SMM as an analytical tool: Reconfirmed that donors and recipients aid policies and relationships are grounded in their own cultural and political contexts, revealing contradictions in the NAAs normative framework. Indicated that strength of identity and validity of customary practice reduce uncertainty. The political and social heterogeneity proffered by NAA and development discourse may threaten this. Mental models are logical to their owners and therefore legitimate. Implications/suggestions for DM studies: Donors give aid for enlightened self-interest as well as humanitarian reasons. Critique the relative roles played by empathy, discourse, ideology and information in policy and practice. Expand critique of policy and practice beyond the Anglo-Saxon boundaries of the NAA, i.e. to other donors in West, South and East.

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