Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Browsing "Localizing Development"

by Ghazala Mansuri and Vijayendra Rao, available online at several places. From The Guardian review:
"But their most striking conclusion is that although community participation has had some success in improving outcomes in health and education, it has been less effective in reducing poverty, or in building capacity for collective action. The most crucial factor behind successful community participation is "support from a responsive state", the authors argue.....The report has not gone unchallenged"
From another review:
"The new framework used by Drs. Rao and Mansuri examined how participatory interventions can repair civil society failure. "The same types of failures that happen at the market and government level - like coordination problems, and inequality in access to power and information - also happen at the social and community level,” says Dr. Rao. “Effective development projects need to address the challenges that arise from the intersection of all areas of potential failure – in markets, governments and civil society.”
Drs. Rao and Mansuri reviewed nearly 500 published studies of participatory projects and uncovered many common issues. For instance, most projects in communities with high inequality had worse outcomes because the most poor and marginalized members were not included in decision-making and rarely benefited from new resources. Also, participatory projects rarely built long-lasting cohesion in the community, and sometimes reinforced divisions between social groups. 
“From our report, the take-away lessons for governments and organizations are that they need to design projects according to a community’s context, make mid-course corrections if necessary, and learn to work within uncertain trajectories of change ,” says Dr. Rao. "
In case study from Indonesia, Abhijit Bannerjee and collaborators report ". However, while elite capture exists, the welfare losses it creates appear small: since formal elites and their relatives are only 9 percent richer than non-elites, are at most about 8 percentage points more likely to receive benefits than non-elites, and represent at most 15 percent of the population, eliminating elite capture entirely would improve the welfare gains from these programs by less than one percent."
I am still browsing through these reports which may take a few weeks or months but they seem interesting to me and not yet mentioned enough (as far as I could find) in the popular aid sites.

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