I was quoted in the book “A Singular Woman” by Janny Scott to the effect that the old saw about giving/teaching a person to fish didn’t have it quite right — lots of people already knew how to fish and didn’t need us to teach them that. Instead, they don’t have access to places where they can “fish” for any number of socio-economic, political and locational reasons. Therefore, my view is that “development” — a poor term to begin with — is more about opening access to opportunities rather than “training” or “capacity-building.” . I think Michael Hobbes’ perspective is consistent with that view.
Greetings from Honduras.
The “Alta Outcome Document,” described in a VOA headline as “Indigenous Peoples Stand Up to Exploitation” and more circumspectly by The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) — an official advisory body to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) — as “a set of recommendations,” was signed in Alta, Norway on June 12, 2013 with the expectation that it will serve as the basis for the upcoming UN World Conference on Indigenous Peoples in September 2014.
Two of the main themes of the Alta Declaration are directly related to approaches strongly advocated in this Blog site: (1) participatory involvement of persons directly impacted by “development” interventions and (2) the need to understand, acknowledge, and respect non-formal parallel governance systems to achieve more effective, efficient and properly targeted assistance to poor people.
For further information on the UN-sponsored World Conference for Indigenous People, September 22-23, 2014 (New York, NY), see http://www.wcip2014.org/ — a very good source of information about “indigenous people” worldwide and, in particular, http://www.wcip2014.org/background .
For UNPFII’s description of the “Alta Outcome Document,” see http://social.un.org/index/IndigenousPeoples/tabid/70/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/151/Preparatory-Meeting-in-Norway-Declares-Common-Position-for-2014-World-Conference-on-Indigenous-Peoples-to-Be-Held-at-Headquarters-22-23-September.aspx .
For VOA’s background coverage of the meeting in Alta see http://www.voanews.com/content/indigenous-peoples-21jun13/1686379.html .
As many of you know, I am on the Board of a US-based Non-Profit (the Uweza Aid Foundation) that assists women and children in Kibera, the largest “slum” — or preferably non-formal settlement — at the periphery of Naroibi, Kenya. With that in mind, I believe you will find this article — …Empowering Kenyan Girls is the Next Step for a Peaceful Kenya both interesting and informative.
Written by fellow Uweza Board member Amy Augustin, the article focuses primarily on the need for, and results of, Uweza’s collaboration with No Means No Worldwide to provide a two-day self-defense and life skills training course to more than thirty girls at Uweza’s Kibera community center. This is an important program in the face of an epidemic of gender-based violence in non-formal settlements like Kibera throughout much of the world.
Clearly, Uweza’s work in Kibera is entirely consistent with the “demand-driven” approach advocated my blog International Development Should….
William Egan Colby was the highly visible Director of Central Intelligence during 1973–1975 following a career in the CIA beginning in its predecessor OSS during WWII; the Agency’s head of clandestine efforts in Sweden and Italy during the 1950s; Deputy Chief and then Chief of Station in South Viet Nam (1959–1962); Chief of its Far East Division (1962–1967), and again in Saigon as deputy, and then civilian head of the American counter-insurgency program within Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV) from 1968 to 1971.
My review of the new biography — Shadow Warrior: William Egan Colby and the CIA — written by Randall Woods was published by the New York Journal of Books on June 6, 2013. Although not without a few minor flaws, this book should be read by anyone interested in either political biographies and/or the recent history of America’s foreign policy.
This Post is a follow-up to one published two years ago (February 6, 2011) entitled “Interview Internatl. Scholar Cairo Today (Sun. Feb. 6)” http://internationaldevelopmentshould.com/2011/02/06/interview-international-scholar-in-cairo-today-sunday-feb-6/. Although at that time the scholar interviewed was not identified for “reasons of personal security,” this time she is revealed as Dr. Ann Lesch, professor of political science at the American University in Cairo, who has lived in Egypt for nearly seventeen years now. This follow-up interview was conducted by Dr. Ja Jahannes; as was the case the first time. If interested in this update of her views two years later, just click here on http://www.inmotionmagazine.com/global/jj_cairo_2013.html.
After a significant delay, this blog post continues the narrative about the earliest years of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). One of the reasons for the delay has been the time required to collect, analyze, and format a substantial amount of primary source data. Given the amount of data presented in this post, I encourage readers to dig deeper by clicking on the highlighted Links.*
This discussion covers two eventful decades from 1960 through 1979 and is divided into three segments. This posting is Segment A. It describes the integration of the Expanded Programme of Technical Assistance (EPTA) and United Nations Special Fund (UNSF) into the new UNDP; the transition from project-specific to “country programming;” and the relabeling of “technical assistance” (TA) to “technical cooperation” (TC). Subsequent segments will address financing and reorganizing UN development efforts (Segment B) and attempts to move beyond conventional assumptions about development and the role of UNDP (Segment C). Following the posting of Segment C, the next full article in series will focus on the increasingly collaborative relationship between UNDP and the World Bank during those same two decades.
The two decades beginning January 1, 1960 and ending December 31, 1979 witnessed a continuation of Cold-War tensions between the United States and its allies and “Communist bloc”2 even as the United Nations (UN) undertook its fifth through thirteenth Peace-Keeping operation (three of which are still underway);3 conflicts in the Middle East continued to bedevil relationships among the United States, its NATO allies, and Israel;4 and the international economy transitioned to floating exchange rates5 and the beginning of the current cycle of financial crises that have occurred at roughly ten-year intervals ever since. Other international events worth noting included the successful completion of India’s first underground nuclear test (1974) as well as a dramatic increase in airplane hijackings and other terrorist attacks that have continued since (although from a variety of different sources).
But the defining characteristic of this period was the transition of 53 territories from colonial to independent sovereign-states (Figure 1); states that now account for about 11 percent of the World’s total population.6
That was not always an unalloyed good. At least in part for reasons discussed in previous blog posts, legal independence was followed in many of these new sovereign-states by the imposition of military or other authoritarian one-party regimes — at least partially in response to the wide-spread but erroneous belief that economic development within “underdeveloped countries” required a level of political stability that could only be provided through long-term planning and disciplined implementation.
At the end of the 1950s, only 82 sovereign-states were members of the UN, of which 65 were also members of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD). Those membership levels amounted to only 42 and 35 percent of their respective memberships today. Nonetheless, by the end of the 1970s; UN membership had increased by another 85 percent. IBRD membership increased even more dramatically; more than doubling (103%; Figure 2). And by the end of that decade, a full 76 percent of UN and 79 percent of IBRD members were composed of non-European or “non-European derivative” countries.7
From EPTA & UNSF to UNDP
The first 25 years in the life of both UN development-oriented entities and the World Bank Group were characterized by substantial intellectual and organizational experimentation and jockeying for position. By contrast, the two decades reviewed here witnessed attempts to consolidate the structure and staffing of both organizations and recognition of substantial complementarities between them.
As discussed in earlier posts, the period prior to 1960 witnessed a proliferation of various UN entities driven by new thinking about “development” objectives and approaches within a fundamentally changed international political framework. It was in that atmosphere that UNDP’s two predecessor agencies were established; the Extended Programme of Technical Assistance (EPTA) began operations in 1950 to provide technical assistance services, fellowships to citizens of “developing” countries, and limited amounts of equipment required by advisors for demonstration and training purposes. The Special Fund (UNSF) followed nine years later (1959) to finance initial pre-investment activities in a manner that would attract sufficient investment capital to jump-start or accelerate economic growth in “underdeveloped” countries.8 It did not take long, however, before several voices within the Economic and Social Council (EcoSoc) and the UN General Assembly began to argue for a merger of EPTA and UNSF.
Indeed, within only three years after UNSF was established, advocates of merger were arguing that by pooling resources and integrating personnel and organizational structures, policy formulation would be unified, overall planning could be integrated, duplications eliminated, procedures simplified, administrative costs reduced, and the time frame during which technical assistance might be required would be shortened. Further, the integration of all headquarter’s technical assistance staff would facilitate a more coherent representation of UN development interests within its member-states.9
That view was not unanimous however; at least not at the outset. UN specialized agencies did not support the prospect of centralized authority. And the Soviet Union and its allies were afraid that a new combined agency would be dominated by the United States.10
Nevertheless, in response to a report submitted by a UN designated group of “independent experts,”11 the General Assembly authorized establishment of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as the unified successor of both EPTA and UNSF on November 22, 1965 and it was officially launched January 1, 1966.
During its initial years, UNDP’s strategic priorities expanded dramatically beyond its predecessors’ four areas of interest.12 During its very first year, UNDP’s inherited portfolio had grown by another one hundred and thirty-seven approved projects. But that expansion was not accompanied by increased financial support from United Nation’s members. Instead, annual authorizations by UNDP fell dramatically immediately after its establishment in 1966; a situation that continued for another decade (Figures 3 and 4).
Nonetheless, by 1968, the list of so-called official “priorities” had quadrupled to no less than sixteen distinct activity areas and approximately 3,000 large-scale pre-investment and small-scale technical assistance projects were underway in about 130 member-states and colonial territories.13
That lack of congruence between real financial constraints and the proliferation of priority activity areas was due, at least in part, to the fact that although EPTA and UNSF staff and programs had been assigned to a single UNDP Administrator, distinctions continued to be made between them for both fund-raising and operational purposes – a situation that continued until January 1, 1972.14 On that date, and in response to yet another study commissioned by the UN Secretariat, both programs were finally fully integrated. That also marked the year in which UNDP became the “developing world’s” largest multilateral provider of technical and pre-investment assistance.
The study that had been commissioned by the UN Secretariat referenced above had also recommended that UNDP move from a conventional focus on discrete projects toward a broader “country-programming” approach. That recommendation, consistent with the prevailing emphasis on long-term planning, reflected a more fundamental change — from focusing on separate requests for project-specific assistance to a primary emphasis on broader more strategic, development objectives. The hope was that a broader strategic perspective would lead to mutually reinforcing synergies across sectors. That approach more closely reflected EPTA’s earlier approach to allocating technical assistance than UNSF’s project-specific quality competition model. In any event, UNDP began to introduce country-programming during its first year as a fully integrated agency (1972).
Indicative Planning Figures (IPFs)
The objectives of country-programming were to be achieved through “integrated strategic planning” for each individual client country in response to priorities supposedly established by recipient governments themselves. Allocation of grant resources would, in turn, be based on “indicative planning figures” (IPFs) — i.e., estimates of UNDP resources made available to each country (or other regional, inter-regional or global program) during five-year planning cycles. Discrete projects would need to be justified within the parameters of those over-arching five-year planning frameworks.
The emphasis on integrated strategic planning required the improvement of institutionalized capacities to conduct effective public and financial administration and statistical data gathering. It also began to shift attention to such cross-cutting issues as the role of women in development (WID), a focus that emerged in a serious way beginning during the latter 1970s. Indeed, by 1977 detailed guidelines about how to increase the participation of women in UNDP-supported projects had been issued.15 Ironically, those innovations were most often introduced during the early years within lower-income countries with the least capacity (or political interest) to implement them.
From 1st to 2nd Planning Cycles
The beginning of its first five-year planning cycle (1972-1976) began auspiciously with nineteen country programs prepared and ready for launch. In combination with other funds approved by its Governing Council,16 UNDP’s planned expenditures totaled $1.5 billion for this first five-year cycle. However, by the beginning of that cycle’s fifth year (1976), UNDP had accumulated a deficit of $40 million, had almost exhausted its operational reserve, and was suffering from the world-wide inflationary devaluation of the financial pledges on which its operations depended. That, in turn, raised questions about UNDP’s ability to continue to operate at that level – questions that were at least temporarily overcome through the mobilization of extraordinary funds pledged by several member-states to support UNDP projects. Indeed, those specially pledged funds almost met UNDP’s originally planned financial target for the entire first programming cycle (falling short by only $700 thousand), avoided any need for UNDP to retreat from supporting the full sixty-six approved country programs during that cycle, and enabled it to move forward with another sixty-six country programs ready for approval at the beginning of the second cycle (1977-1981).
But before moving the discussion forward here, it is important to note that UNDP was not a particularly large actor in the overall world of “official development aid” (ODA) (Figures 5 and 6).17 During the entire period from 1970 through 1979 (the first decade for which sufficient comparative data is available), UNDP’s share of net “official development” grants and other concessional aid was only three percent (Figures 7 and 8). This decade also witnessed the beginning of the World Bank’s increasingly important place in the overall concessional lending arena. By 1979, the World Bank’s share of overall concessional grants and loans – not including the larger amount of non-concessional lending to middle-income countries – had increased to 31 percent from 18 percent at the beginning of that decade.
Given UNDP’s reliance on funding largely from the same cast of countries as those providing the bulk of bi-lateral aid and funding of other UN system entities, it is not surprising that its policies adhered fairly closely to the broader norms of that constituency. Although UNDP did begin to amass sufficient credibility on its own to embark on a few new path-breaking initiatives that other agencies followed, its overall approach was more evolutionary than revolutionary. A good example of adherence to conventional approaches was retaining direct responsibility for implementing the technical assistance and pre-investment projects financed by it and utilization of project-management units.
Although incrementally reinforcing the strategic planning role of recipient governments, UNDP-financed activities continued to be implemented directly by the UN and its specialized agencies rather than those governments. That also contributed toward the already growing tendency to establish temporary project management units outside of recipient governments’ established ministerial structures.
In an attempt to counter that trend, UNDP promulgated its “New Dimensions in UNDP Technical Co-operation” during 1975 to “free the Programme’s joint planning with Governments from the traditional project package of foreign experts, fellowships, equipment and Government personnel.”18 Those new dimensions were also intended to shift lead responsibility for implementing UNDP-financed projects directly to recipient governments by 1977. Nonetheless, the practice of maintaining separate donor-financed project-management units (PMUs) – often termed the “by-pass” model — continues to this day. Discussion of the many reasons why donors’ – both UNDP and many others — continued the utilization of separate project-specific management units is beyond the purview of this blog post. And a rather large literature on this subject already exists.19
The introduction of Integrated strategic planning at the country-level also reinforced UNDP’s commitment to increasingly decentralize many of its planning and support tasks to its rapidly increasing number of field offices; 104 of which existed by 1974. The role of headquarters in New York was to be transformed into supporting those field offices and planning and managing cross-country regional and inter-regional activities.
From Technical Assistance to Technical Cooperation
The provision of “experts”11 and educational and technical training “fellowships” had been referred to as “technical assistance” (TA) throughout the 1950s. However, by 1959, the governments of many recipient countries were arguing that “technical co-operation” (TC) would be a more appropriate term. In response, EcoSoc unanimously approved a resolution to that effect on December 22, 1960. From that date until about 2006 — when the term “Capacity Development” was introduced to signify a further shift “from the use of expatriate technical cooperation personnel to the nurturing of national leadership and expertise”20 — the term “technical cooperation” was in general use by United Nations agencies. Nonetheless, many bi-lateral aid agencies, the WB Group, and IMF continue to use the term “technical assistance.”
In 1965, EcoSoc delegated responsibility for formulating policy for all United Nations’ technical cooperation to UNDP’s Governing Council, and UNDP increased its advocacy and support of technical co-operation among developing countries (“TCDC”) throughout the 1970s. But it was not until 1980 that UNDP’s Governing Council issued official detailed guidelines to guide the UN System’s technical cooperation efforts.21 That enhanced UNDP role eventually led to its claim to responsibility for coordination of all development assistance provided by multilateral agencies within each recipient country.
Distribution of UNDP Technical Cooperation
Between 1972 and 1976, UNDP employed an annual average of about 10,000 experts to work in recipient countries (Figure 9) and provided 28,200 fellowships. But over the entire period from 1960 to 1979, the annual numbers were very uneven. The lowest number of experts (3,306) was provided during 1960, grew to a high of 20,198 in 1971, and declined again until by the end of 1979 only about half of the 1971 number (10,396) were in the field. UNDP’s funding of experts exceeded $1 billion for the first time during 1975; half-way through that period of decline.22
Experts: Sectoral Distributions. Agriculture accounted for 24 percent of UNDP projects approved during 1972 to 1981; down from 35 percent during 1969. Nonetheless, agriculture continued to be a major focus even as the industrial sector’s share of allocations grew to 21 percent during that same period. But with reference to the provision of experts, UNDP increasingly directed its assistance toward “general economic and social policy and planning.” Focusing on a fairly wide-range of technical assistance “expertise”11 — including evaluating proposed country programs; development planning and pre-investment studies; coordinating international emergency responses to natural or man-made disasters; establishing and strengthening education, training, and research centers focused on teacher training and adaptation of modern technologies (especially water pumps, small-scale sanitation infrastructure, and appropriate alternative cooking stoves); and non-formal in-service training and formal graduate level education to serving government staff – authorized allocations for economic and social policy formulation and planning increased from 10 percent during the first cycle (1972-1976) to 17 percent during the second (1977-1981).
Recipient Regions. The geographical distribution of UNDP’s assistance was fairly constant throughout the 1960s and 1970s; except for Europe and the Middle East (Figure 10). Beginning in 1962, Africa consistently received the largest share; between 23 and 40 percent. Asia eclipsed Africa only twice (1963 and 1978) while dropping below Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) only once (1966). Overall, Africa received 31 percent of UNDP’s total assistance from 1960 through 1979, followed by Asia (26%), LAC (21%), and Europe and the Middle East (16%) — global, inter-regional, and regional programs received the remaining six percent.
Experts: Countries of Origin. In 1972, UNDP introduced new recruitment and training policies to increase the number of staff from developing countries. Nonetheless, UNDP continued to rely predominantly on European and European-derivative7 countries as the source for “experts”11 assigned to recipient countries (Figures 11 and 12).
During the period under review here, the United Kingdom accounted for between 28 percent (1960) and 32 percent (1965) of all TC provided by European experts (Figure 13) while the second largest European provider, France, followed behind within a range between 19 percent (1977) and 25 percent (1973). Those two countries together accounted for between 50 percent (1977) and 54 percent (1973) of all European “experts”11 provided during the period under review here (Figure 14). And two “European-derivative”7 countries — the United States and Canada — also provided between twelve percent (1966 and 1969) and 16 percent (1960, 1974, and 1975). Indeed, the United States alone provided 11 percent of all UNDP TC during this same period; second only to the United Kingdom (Figure 15).
India’s dominance as a provider of UNDP experts from Asia is also clear during this period (Figure 16); accounting for between 30% (1971) and 43% (1978) of all TC provided by Asian experts between 1960 and 1979 (Figure 17). That was essentially equal to all other Asian countries combined (excluding Australia and Japan). India was also the only “non-Western” country to rank among the top five providers of UNDP and predecessor TC (Figures 18 and 19).
But it should be noted that India’s “experts”11 were clearly significantly “western” in their individual educations, economic orientation, and acceptance of professional norms. And India and Australia alone accounted for between 48 percent (1971) and 58 percent (1961, 1978) of all Asian experts during this period.
By contrast with Europe, Asia and the Middle East, there was no clustering of “experts”11 among citizens of Latin American or Caribbean countries (Figures 20 and 21); first-ranked Chile fluctuated between 14 percent and 22 percent most years and only once accounted for upwards of 30 percent (1960). The second largest Latin American or Caribbean provider, Argentina, followed with a range between 13 percent (1961) and 24 percent (1972). Nonetheless, those two largely European-derivative7 countries together accounted for more than 40 percent of the region’s UNDP financed-experts for almost half (4/10) of the years under review here.
The total number of Soviet “experts”11 engaged in UNDP TC exceeded those of any other Communist-party state during the twenty-year period under review here (Figure 22). But that number is misleading in at least two respects. First, the total number of experts from the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies accounted for only seven percent of total UNDP TC during this period; new authorizations for experts from the Soviet Union and its European allies fluctuating between four percent and nine percent during any one year (Figure 23). Second, although the Soviet Union provided almost as much TC as all other Communist-party states combined during the 1960s, its dominance declined during the 1970s when Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland increased their shares significantly (Figures 24 and 25). Indeed, Czechoslovakia alone exceeded the number of Soviet “experts”11 during 1969 and 1970 while Poland took the lead in 1976 and maintained it throughout the rest of that decade).
As for the Middle East, Egypt, Israel, and Syria alone provided more experts than all other countries within that region combined (Figure 26). Egypt alone never accounted for less than 31 percent (1960) of all Middle Eastern experts. Israel lagged behind from a low of 13 percent (1960) and high of 26 percent (1975). Those two countries combined accounted for more than half of all Middle Eastern experts throughout the nineteen years between 1961 and 1979 and exceeded 70 percent during five of those years (Figure 27).
Sudan clearly dominated among the relatively few Sub-Saharan African country-providers of UNDP experts; accounting for almost a third of the experts provided by nine independent African countries, apartheid South Africa, and the British colony of Rhodesia and Nyasaland (i.e., Zimbabwe and Malawi)23 combined (Figure 28). And with respect to South Africa and British Rhodesia and Nyasaland, it should be noted that attitudes toward recruitment of experts from among those relatively small European elite populations living in Africa changed during the 1960s and 1970s. As late as 1960, of the only 32 TC “experts”11 from Africa employed by UN/EPTA, 17 (53.1%) were from South Africa and 4 (12.5%) were from Rhodesia and Nyasaland. By the end of the 1970s, that reliance on “European” elites had been reversed.
Nonetheless, even though Sudan was the dominant provider of UNDP-financed African experts during this period, it never accounted for more than 18.9% (1967) of all such experts. And from a broader global perspective, Sudanese never exceeded 7/10th of one percent of “experts”11 worldwide; second rank Tunisia never ranked higher than 6/10th of a percent; and third ranked Ghana’s highest contribution equaled 3/10th of a percent (Figure 29 and 30). Those three top-ranked African countries together accounted for only between 6/10th (1963) and one percent (1976) of UNDP-financed experts worldwide during the period reviewed here.
Experts: Countries of Assignment. Beginning in 1962, the Sub-Saharan Africa Region was the destination of more UNDP-financed experts annually than any other region (except 1965; Figure 31). Indeed, except that year and the next it received 33-40 percent (Figure 32). Asia was the primary destination of experts during 1960, 1961, and 1965, but fell to third place from 1973 to 1976 and again during 1979. A significant number of experts were also assigned to Latin America, accounting for a full 25 percent of the total in 1979, while the Soviet Union and its allies never accounted for more than 3 percent.
Fellowships: Sectoral Distributions. During the first years following the transition to integrated UNDP programming, the number of short-term training, study tours, and longer-term graduate education fellowships declined substantially; from about 8,500 during 1968 to about 6,000 during 1969. But by 1978, the number had increased to 13,457; declining a bit to 12,354 the following year.
By contrast with the provision of experts, no sectors consistently dominated the allocation of fellowships during the entire two decades under review here (Figure 33); a full 52 percent of which was for unspecified “education” and “skills training (Figure 34).” The most that can be said is that an emphasis on public works fellowships during the early 1960s began a shift toward an emphasis on social activities and welfare during the latter half of that decade.
Geographic Distribution of Fellowship Recipients. By 1961, both Africa and Asia emerged as the dominant priority regions for educational and skill training fellowships (Figure 35); accounting for 56 percent of total fellowships provided during those two decades (Figure 36). Although those two regions traded up and back between the most and next most number of fellowships between 1961 and 1975, Asia took pride of place for the remainder of the 1970s.
Countries Hosting Fellowship Recipients. By contrast with the relatively large number of countries from which fellowship recipients were selected, the number of significant host-country providers was much more concentrated. More precisely, only nine (6%) of the 150 state-members of the United Nations in 1979 hosted slightly more than half of all UNDP fellowship recipients during the 1960s and 1970s. The United Kingdom and United States alone were the destination of 19 percent of all UNDP fellowship recipients (Figures 37 and 38). But that pales by comparison to the USA’s estimated thirty percent share of all world-wide destinations by students studying in countries other than their own throughout the period under review here.24
For its part, the Soviet Union hosted only three percent of total UNDP fellowship holders (about 7,400) during those two decades. That is in marked contrast to the Soviet Union and its allies’ “almost ten percent” share of all students studying at university level in countries other than their own between 1970 and 1990; a share that reflects the Soviet Union’s “active policy to attract and indoctrinate future leaders” by offering fellowships to Moscow’s “People’s Friendship University (formerly known as Patrice Lumumba University)…founded in 1960 with the explicit mandate to prepare future socialist leaders in Africa, Asia, and Latin America”24 and other Eastern European universities as well.
India (5%) and Egypt (2%) were the only “non-Western” destinations among the top-ten host country providers. With the addition of eleventh-ranked Thailand, only three “non-Western” countries were among the nine dominant hosts. But even so, they together hosted only thirteen percent (about 31 thousand) of all UNDP fellowship recipients during the same period.
Persistence of Conventional Approaches: Substitutes & Performers
In 1948, General Assembly Resolution 2000(III) broadened the scope of UN-provided technical assistance to include “promotion of conditions of economic and social progress and development.” The justification for this expansion of advisory and training activities beyond the more limited scope employed during the immediate post-war period in Europe was the “lack of expert personnel and lack of technical organization” in “underdeveloped” countries.21 To fill that gap, the UN provided “operational, executive and administrative (OPEX) personnel” to serve directly as officials of recipient governments, even as they were still employed by the United Nations or specialized agencies at international, rather than local, rates.
Available data illustrate the ebb and flow of OPEX assignments during the period following the establishment of UNDP on January 1, 1966. During that first year, 101 UNDP-financed OPEX personnel worked in 35 countries or dependent territories (45% of which were in Africa). Overall numbers of OPEX “experts”11 increased until reaching a peak for the period under review here of 216 personnel working in 49 countries and dependent territories during 1975 (67% of whom were serving in 25 African countries; Figure 39 and 40).
Of equal interest to those aggregate statistics, the numbers serving in a few specific African countries at the peak for that continent during 1974 stand-out – the very small country of Swaziland had a full 23 OPEX staff followed by Botswana (20), Equatorial Guinea, Lesotho, and Malawi (13 each); and Nigeria (12). The only non-African countries hosting anywhere near those numbers that year were Yemen (8) and Trinidad and Tobago, and Western Samoa (7 each).
Beginning in 1976, the number of OPEX personnel began a steady decline – beginning with 190 and ending the decade with a total of 122 personnel in 39 countries or territories. Nonetheless, Swaziland maintained its lead share of the reduced number serving in Africa, followed by Botswana and Malawi (Figure 41 and 42).25
But the decline in the number of OPEX personnel did not signify the end of foreign “advisors” performing direct tasks on behalf of recipient governments rather than transferring skills to local counterparts. Other foreign “advisors,” whether financed by UNDP or other bi-lateral and multi-lateral agencies, continued to perform tasks directly for recipient governments themselves.
One result of the direct performance of tasks rather than the on-the-job transfer of skills was that foreign technical cooperation personnel tended to continue in place for substantial periods – whether as individuals or by virtue of successive replacements with or without minor changes in position titles or job descriptions. Of the 81 countries or territories to which OPEX personnel were assigned for at least one year between the commencement of UNDP operations (1966) and the end of the period under review here (1979), 34 (42%) hosted them for at least seven (50%) of those 14 years.26 And that phenomenon was compounded by a “brain-drain” of many government staff sent to study in European or European derivative7 countries who did not return home.
It is a perverse irony that, although by 1972 almost a third of new UNDP staff members — as distinct from UNDP-financed experts — were from “developing” countries, almost all of them were graduates of Western universities. And many of those were found among earlier recipients of UNDP and other donor fellowships, leading some to criticize donors for contributing to a brain drain and subverting the very purpose of the fellowships in the first place.
The assignment of foreigners as “substitutes”27 with direct line responsibilities within recipient countries is now rare almost anywhere other than in UN administered territories and other post-conflict situations.28 However, the dominant role of experts as “performers”27 implementing tasks assigned to them directly by UNDP – or another “donor” — has not changed to any significant extent until the present time.
That is the case despite UNDP’s introduction of the “New Dimensions in Technical Co-operation” during 1975 and the UNDP’s Governing Council’s 1979 “invitation” to:
“the UNDP Administrator, agencies and Governments to consider alternatives to UNDP-financed, internationally recruited experts and to consider, in particular: increased support to Governments wishing to undertake the direct recruitment of experts; increased use of qualified nationals as experts in projects; increased use of expatriate nationals for service in their home countries; and increased use of institutional twinning arrangements and related methods….”29
In short, getting the immediate job done overrode responsibilities for providing on-the job training to benefit recipient governments in the longer-term. Although this was generally considered appropriate, by the late 1970s an expanding number of development professionals began to argue that such practices were – at least over the longer-term — counter-productive.30
In retrospect, “performer” approaches have clearly failed to meet expectations even as “donors” continue to finance such roles to this day. The discussion of the failure to provide effective in-service training by on-site residential “experts”11 and alternative, non-conventional, approaches to providing such services is deferred to a future posting (look for “From Colonial Administrators to Development Advisors,” forthcoming). For now, we turn our attention to UNDP’s outreach to the financing and reorganization of UN development efforts from 1960 to 1979 (Segment B).
This is the first time I have re-blogged a post from another site (and yes, with permission). I have done so because I find it both provocative and something about which I largely agree.
Thanks to David Levine for sending this to me.
Originally posted on Africa is a Country (Old Site):
Geo-branding is a serious thing. It is particularly serious when people from other geographic areas decide to brand your geographical area and the people in it, the way they see fit and the way that fits their purposes. No other country, region or continent, I’d argue, suffers from other peoples’ nonsense as much as the continent of Africa. Actually, the reason why people generally and casually talk about Africa as one place is because of what Nigerian-American author C. P. Eze refers to as “their geo-branding war”.
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