Saturday, 11 April 2009

The secret to successful aid

At his blog, Aid Watch, William Easterly points out there is no secret,
[...] there is no secret. One approach to a successful aid project just is to immerse yourself in the local community, put local people in charge who are themselves highly motivated, be adaptive and flexible to respond to whatever the local people think about how they can help themselves, so that you customize the “standard project designs” to fit local circumstances. Most aid projects fail because there is nobody in the field making all these necessary adaptations and fixing unanticipated problems as they arise. The moral of the story is: be a Searcher and not a Planner.
In other words, the Hayakian approach to aid, make use of the local tacit knowledge of time and place to achieve a market based solution to the problems that these particular people face. A spontaneous order if you will. Easterly goes on to discuss one aid project. He writes,
This kind of aid project is based on a lot of personal, face to face interaction, developing trust and a shared vision, so it is small scale, it has to let things proceed at their own pace, it can’t meet rigid pre-set output targets, it could never be judged by a rigorous “randomized controlled trial” methodology. In short, it involves the kind of tacit knowledge and individual adaptation that could never be converted into a routinized project implemented by the official aid bureaucracies. It breaks all the rules, and it works.

1 comment:

StephenR said...

Its been a while, but who knew that I was learning about a 'Hayakian' approach to aid at uni! 'Standard project designs' sound more World Bank circa 1985 to me, but no surprise that they still exist.