کمک به خودیاری: معمای اساسی کمک های توسعه ای
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|33892||2007||17 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||9189 کلمه|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : The Journal of Socio-Economics, Volume 36, Issue 4, August 2007, Pages 561–577
For more than half a century, there have been government programs and international organizations devoted to socially engineering development. As evidenced by the recent United Nation's Millennium Project report, surprisingly little has been learned as to why that mode of development assistance is ineffective. This paper takes an interdisciplinary approach to explaining the old idea that the best form of assistance is to help people help themselves but that this cannot be “engineered” as is amply evidenced by over a half-century of failures. There is a conundrum: how can the helpers supply help that furthers rather than overrides or undercuts the goal of the doers helping themselves? Otherwise, it is actually “unhelpful help.” The overriding and undercutting forms of unhelpful help are analyzed and strategies for autonomy-respecting help are presented.
1.1. Learning the lessons from the last half century It is only in the post-World War II era that there has been a concerted effort by the developed industrialized countries to offer technical and philanthropic assistance to the developing world. Overall, the official aid offered by developed countries and by the international agencies such as the World Bank has not been a resounding success. Where development has been most successful—as in East Asia—the official aid agencies have had little to do with it, and where the aid agencies have focused much of their assistance—as in Africa—that help has not been crowned with success. In the course of the latter half of the 20th century, there have been many hard lessons.1 Unfortunately the major development assistance organizations have not learned these lessons. In the early days of concerted development assistance (the 1940s and 1950s), development was seen as a huge socially engineered investment project. Outside agencies could help to finance the investments and to supply expertise. Impoverished people were lacking a number of specific “things” and once they had received those “things,” they could then break out of their poverty traps, take control of their destinies, and achieve economic and social “lift-off” to development. The investments need to be planned and coordinated into a “big push” to finally break out of the otherwise self-reinforcing vicious circles of poverty and to “take off” on the path to development. The principal intellectual critique to the big-push-investment-project approach to development was provided by Albert Hirschman in his The Strategy of Economic Development (1958) and in later writings. Reduced to a single idea, Hirschman's point was that if a country had the capacity to plan, coordinate, implement, and absorb the “big push,” then it would hardly be an underdeveloped country in the first place. Yet the development assistance industry, then and now, cannot “hear” any message about the ineffectiveness of what they are geared to do. Hence they keep on repeating the same basic ideas as if past failures were only due to insufficient resources invested, insufficient “bigness” to the “push,” and the like. After nearly 40 years, the World Bank published a book, Investing in Development ( Baum and Tolbert, 1985), which indicated that it still saw development as a large investment project. Now after 20 more years, the United Nations Millennium Project (directed by Jeffrey Sachs) has published its report which even has the same title, Investing in Development (2005). And it has the same message. “The key to escaping the poverty trap is to raise the economy's capital stock to the point where the downward spiral ends and self-sustaining economic growth takes over. This requires a big push of basic investments between now and 2015 in public administration, human capital (nutrition, health, education), and key infrastructure (roads, electricity, ports, water and sanitation, accessible land for affordable housing, environmental management).” (UN Millennium Project, 2005, 19) Change the dates, and this passage could have been right out of the big push literature of the 1940s and 1950s. After 60 years of failure for this social engineering approach to development assistance, what is one to do? Recommend rereading Hirschman? Here I will take the different approach of going back to the basics of the assistance or helping relationship. Over the ages, many social thinkers, educators, and philosophers have wrestled with the fundamental conundrum of helping self-help. Most external “help” actually overrides or undercuts the budding capacity for self-help and thus ends up being unhelpful. The big push schemes of the major development assistance agencies are for these reasons “unhelpful” on a grand scale. 1.2. The helper–doer relationship It is a very old idea that the best form of assistance is to help people help themselves. We are all familiar with the ancient Chinese saying that if you give people fish, you feed them for a day, but if you teach them how to fish—or rather, if you help them learn how to fish—they can feed themselves for a lifetime. First we need to establish some concepts and terminology; community assistance is analyzed as a relationship between those offering assistance in some form, the helper or helpers, and those receiving the assistance, the doer or doers.2 The helpers could be individuals, foundations, community development agencies, churches, charities, or nonprofit organizations, and the doers could be individuals, organizations or various levels of government in the disadvantaged communities. The relationship is the helper–doer relationship. 1.3. The fundamental conundrum of assistance The assumed goal is transformation towards autonomous development on the part of the doers, with the doers helping themselves. The problem is how can the helpers supply help that actually furthers rather than overrides or undercuts the goal of the doers helping themselves? This is actually a paradox. If the helpers are supplying help that is important to the doers, then how can the doers really be helping themselves? Autonomy cannot be externally supplied. And if the doers are becoming autonomous, then what is the role of the external helpers? This paradox of supplying help to self-help, “assisted self-reliance”3 or assisted autonomy, is the fundamental conundrum of all helping relationships. Over the years, the debates about philanthropy and community assistance at home and abroad keep circling around and around this conundrum. This conundrum is at the heart of the aid and philanthropy business, and I fear that fundamental progress depends on a very clear understanding of the contradiction. An appreciation of the conundrum goes back at least to the Taoist doctrine that the wise ruler rules in such a way that when the people prosper, they will say “We did it ourselves.” It goes back to Socrates who deliberately refrained from giving out answers—claiming what we now call “Socratic ignorance”—and instead tried to indirectly (e.g., through questioning and irony) to spur a learning process so that when the doer learned, it would be the doer's own knowledge, not second-hand beliefs borrowed from an Expert. It goes back to the 19th century Danish philosopher, Søren Kierkegaard's theme (drawing explicitly on Socrates) that there is no objective or outside road to subjective or inside change. And it comes out in various ways today in the popular “self-help” literature such as Stephen Covey's theme (1990) about the difficulty in finding an outside-in road to inside-out change. My aim is not to provide a new blueprint for development assistance but to point the way toward new strategies by trying to deepen the understanding of this basic conundrum and the kinds of “unhelpful help” that reduce the effectiveness of so much philanthropy and so many development assistance programs. 1.4. Unhelpful help There are many strategies for assistance that may supply help in some form but actually do not help people help themselves. The forms of help that override or undercut people's capacity to help themselves will be called “unhelpful help.”4 There are essentially two ways that the helper's will can supplant the doer's will to thwart autonomy and self-help: (1) the helper, by professionally guided programs of social engineering, deliberately tries to impose his will on the doer; (2) the helper, by benevolent aid, replaces the doer's will with her will, perhaps inadvertently. “Override” or “undercut” are shorthand terms for these two conceptually distinct yin-and-yang forms of unhelpful help (which may be combined, as when benevolence hides the desire to control). 1.4.1. Unhelpful help #1: social engineering The “overriding” form of unhelpful help is a type of social engineering. The helpers supply a set of instructions or programs for what the doers should be doing. They also offer motivation to follow this blueprint to override the doers’ own motivations. If we use the metaphor of the doers as trying to work their way through a maze, then the helpers as social engineers perceive themselves as helicoptering over the maze, seeing the path to the goal, and supplying instructions (knowledge) along with carrots and sticks (incentives) to override the doers’ own motivation and push the doers in the right direction. The alternative to providing motivation is to give some resources (perhaps with a strong matching requirement) to enable the doers to undertake projects and programs that they were already motivated to do on their own. Fritz Schumacher put it well: “Perhaps the best—perhaps even the only—effective slogan for aid is: ‘Find out what the people are trying to do and help them to do it better.”’ (Schumacher, 1964, 374) 1.4.2. Unhelpful help #2: benevolent aid The second form of unhelpful help occurs when the helper undercuts self-help by inadvertently supplying the motivation for the doer to be in or remain in a condition to receive help. One prominent example of this is long-term charitable relief. The world is awash with disaster situations that call for various forms of short-term charitable relief. The point is not to oppose these operations but to point out how charitable relief operates in the longer term to erode the doers’ incentives to help themselves—and thus creates a dependency relationship. Charity corrupts; long-term charity corrupts long term. All aid to adults based on the simple condition of needing aid risks displacing the causality. The working assumption is that the condition of needing aid was externally imposed (e.g., a natural disaster); the aid recipient shares no responsibility. But over the course of time, such aid tends to undermine this assumption as the aid in effect becomes a reward for staying in the state of needing aid,5 all of which risks creating dependency and learned helplessness. Thus relief becomes the unhelpful help that undermines self-help. 1.5. The Scylla and Charybdis of community assistance The benevolent impulse to give charitable relief and the enlightened impulse to do social engineering are the Scylla and Charybdis of development assistance. Several major difficulties lie in the path of adopting and implementing new strategies based on helping self-help. The first difficulty to be overcome is the simple recognition of the pitfalls of social programming on the one hand and of benevolent aid on the other hand. Again and again, one finds well-meaning programs to “do X” being defended on the grounds that the doers should indeed do X (as if it were only the “what” and not the “how” that counts6). But there seems to be little or no real recognition that if the doers do X only to receive aid, then the motive will falsify the action, the reforms will not be well implemented, and the changes will not be sustained. Hence all the arguments about the beneficial nature of “doing X” miss the point. And again and again, one finds benevolent aid being defended as doing good in the sense of “delivering resources to the poor” without any real recognition as to how this undercuts the incentives for developing self-reliance. All the arguments about the relief being “help” miss the point. It is an unhelpful form of help that in the longer term undercuts capacity-building and autonomous development. The other major difficulty to be overcome is the gap between rhetoric and reality. The major development assistance agencies have long since learned to use the language of being against charity and imposed program engineering, and being in favor of helping people help themselves. But it is a remarkably subtle matter to overcome the basic conundrum and supply help in a way that does not override or undercut the development of the capacity for self-help. These points lead to some dos and don’ts.