[OPE-L] [Jurriaan] USAID comments on donor capitalism in Malawi

From: glevy@PRATT.EDU
Date: Tue Oct 25 2005 - 18:36:09 EDT

---------------------------- Original Message -------------------------
Subject: USAID comments on donor capitalism in Malawi
From:    "Jurriaan Bendien" <adsl675281@tiscali.nl>
Date:    Tue, October 25, 2005 6:24 pm


Having previously mentioned the plight of Malawi (a country I did not
visit myself) I think the article reproduced below is significant,
because it shows yet again - in a more gruesome way than Marx's famous
(satirical) example of Mr Peel who decided to emigrate to Swan River,
Australia where his servants ran off - the difficulties of creating a
capitalism where capitalist social relations are lacking (even when the
supply of capital is plentiful):

JOHANNESBURG, 25 Oct 2005 (IRIN) - Donor ideologies and programmes
implicitly shape Malawi's food security policies, says a
USAID-commissioned report that laments a lack of local ownership. "Donor
advice on growth, agriculture and poverty reduction changes, depending on
international development trends," said the report, which cited the
controversial sale of the Strategic Grain Reserve in 2000 at the
insistence of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as an example. The
IMF recommended the sale as part of its privatisation model, leaving the
country with no stockpiles when it faced one of its worst food shortages
later that year.

A subsequent presidential inquiry into the deal found not only serious
conflicts of interest and possible evidence of personal enrichment by
senior officials, but also the IMF and the World Bank at fault for
pressurising the government. "The country unfortunately does not have
much choice [in its policies], as most of its programmes are funded by
donors," suggested one aid worker.

Donors financed 83 percent of Malawi's 2004/05 development budget,
leaving major uncertainties among Malawians about the explicit or
implicit conditions attached to so much financing, said the USAID report.
Malawian NGOs and analysts echoed similar concerns. "The dependency
culture is particularly poignant now, when Malawi is in the grip of its
worst drought in a decade," commented an aid worker. The current shortages
have been compounded by the late delivery of fertilisers and seed.

Given Malawi's traditional reliance on external funding, it was not clear
whether the government was in charge of the policy-making process, noted
political analyst Boniface Dulani. "To the extent that [agricultural] policy
follows the money, the twists and turns of policy formulation mirrors the
ebb and flow of resources as well as international donor trends,"
commented the USAID report.

"Donor advice on policies impacting upon economic growth, agriculture and
poverty reduction has been characterised by shifts and turns, depending
on the development models currently in fashion in Brussels, London or
Washington." An aid worker pointed out that "there are constant battles
between donor consultants and certain government officials, who decide to
stick with existing policies - sometimes there is a compromise; most of
the times there is uneasy compliance".

Various donors have taken charge of the country's agricultural policies:
the European Union (EU) has conditioned its new funding according to its
own set of development indicators. The EU currently is financing the
preparation of a Food and Nutrition Security Policy, "in which we see a
European emphasis on economic rights, which has created a lot of
uneasiness - there is nothing Malawian about it," said a relief worker
with a local NGO.

The UK Department for International Development influences policy on
fertiliser subsidies; World Bank assistance is conditioned upon progress
made in restructuring the state grain marketer, ADMARC, observed the USAID
report. With so much donor influence on policy, ordinary Malawians could not
hold the government accountable, NGOs and aid workers commented. "Feeble
national ownership of strategy makes it difficult to implement policy,
because it belongs to no one in particular," said USAID.


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