The Implementation of Foreign Aid and Developmental Programs

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While overall poverty levels globally seem to be falling, with the number of people living on $1.9 or less a day dropping from 1.9 billion in 1990 to 736 million in 2015, the story is different in Sub Saharan Africa (World Bank, 2018). In fact, the number of the extremely poor is on an ascent with more than half of the world’s poor residents in the continent. Current forecasts by the World Bank (2018) data project an increase in the population of those under abject poverty in Africa as opposed to other parts of the world. Whereas these estimates are prone to overestimation and errors (World Bank, 2016), and are indeed contestable for that matter, poverty is still a big challenge that continues to appear on almost every agenda of global politics, international relations and diplomacy (Andrews, 2009; Bello et al., 1994; Cline, 2004; Fowler, 1998; Nadvi, 2004; Stokke, 1989). It is also true that African countries are among the biggest beneficiaries of the different international assistance programs (OECD, 2017a; World Atlas, 2017). The continent received an estimated net disbursement of ODA (official development assistance) of 47.46 billion dollars in 2017 (OECD, 2017a).

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Foreign aid has been criticized by different researchers as a cul-de-sac to economic growth stimulation and hence a wrong solution to lift the suffering out of poverty (Andrews, 2009; Easterly, 2006; Moyo, 2009). Bräutigam and Knack, (2004); Okada and Samreth, (2012) put emphasis on the weak structural and accountability policies in the countries where financial support is disbursed as the cause for failure and Alesina and Weder (2002); Tavares (2003) pointed at foreign aid as foster factor for more corruption by availing resources fought over by interest groups. Others have expressed the rampant levels of corruption in developing countries as the main bottleneck and hence concluding that aid is something that only benefits a few elites while completely sidelining the intended poor people (Angeles and Neanidis, 2009; Bjørnskov, 2010). Some scholars have labelled financial aid as “an extension of colonial economics” (New Internationalist, 2018). In effect referring to the outflow of resources from some continents like Africa, in contrast to the resource inflow in form of aid. Another strand of studies has underscored the importance of foreign aid to building democracies and better governance structures in poor countries (Alesina and Dollar, 2000; Carapico, 2002; Knack, 2004). It is anticipated that this would ensure accountability of leaders to the led thereby utilizing financial aid for the intended objectives. Bjørnskov (2010) concluded that the effectiveness of aid highly depends on how democratic a country is. Other literature source site aid as very beneficial and as something that can and has empowered livelihoods out of poverty (Bjørnskov, 2010; Boone, 1996; Hühne et al., 2014). Foreign aid is indeed “a lifeline for imperfect but necessary support systems”. Generally, there is a large body of literature about foreign aid, from how to make it work, its effects, and skepticisms around the entire subject of foreign aid. However, there is a paucity of literature about implementation strategies of financial support in developing countries, with practical examples, and how better it could be improved. This is one of the deficiencies this paper is one of the first to address.

The current model of implementation of aid and developmental programs in general should be revised. The top down approach which is witnessed in most of the programs i.e. SDGs, where different targets and indicators are set, and then financial support provided. This study argues that providing financial support alone is not enough but rather further investigation into the implementation would be more beneficial to the target communities. A plethora of projects end up creating solutions that are farfetched from the reality of the problems being faced by the people on ground. This is in part due to the general “Push” approach employed by most donor agencies (Christensen et al., 2019). This leads to creation of wasteful projects that end up totally missing the point of poor people’ problems and never suffer consequences because poor people are not using their own money, hence cannot hold donors accountable (Easterly, 2014). The ideology that foreign aid would be pushed in developing countries to achieve economic growth economic growth seems wanting at best and a complete failure at worst. Push strategies have been reported to be unsuccessful in a number of countries and have often (Christensen et al., 2019). A multi-varied approach that utilizes both top-down and bottom-up models would be the best fit for the success of projects (Isidiho and Sabran, 2016; Terrapon-Pfaff et al., 2014)

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