Western donors could learn from Brazil’s new brand of development aid

Technical advice and capacity building have been central to much of western aid over past few decades but examples of success are hard to come by. On a recent visit to Brazil I was struck by the confidence with which many of those involved in fleshing out what might be described as the Brazil model of south-south co-operation insisted that they would succeed where so many had failed. I was not entirely convinced, some of the problems of the aid relationship (related to power, ownership, culture and information) are fairly intractable however you go about seeking to resolve them. But there is one aspect of the Brazil model that made me cautiously optimistic that it may be more effective than traditional donor approaches: limiting of scope to areas of direct and recent experience. Brazil exports success. Rather than advising governments on what should work, the hallmark of much western advice for decades, Brazilian co-operation is based directly on what manifestly has worked. Understanding the agriculture sector in the past 10 years or so has been the mainstay of Brazil’s economic and social progress. While presidents Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff have kept well away from any deep land reform, much to the despair of their critics on the left, radical investments in small-scale farmers, to complement the continued might of mega-plantations, has led to increased food supply, reduced hunger in rural areas and, crucially, stimulated internal demand, with knock-on effects for the rest of the economy. The technology, research and policy ideas associated with this progress forms the core of Brazil’s agriculture co-operation, about a quarter of its aid effort. In health, Brazil’s second largest co-operation sector, the human milk bank is a flagship initiative demonstrating how milk can be donated by mothers, categorised according to its nutritional quality, and supplied to premature babies. The zero hunger strategy linking social safety nets to school attendance is another of Brazil’s proudest achievements, one that it is working actively with the World Food Programme to share with other countries. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development donors claim to have expertise on all aspects of development, from budgeting to education, resolving conflict, ending maternal mortality and everything else, but their actual experience of such issues in a development context is a distant memory at best. In contrast, Brazil, like other southern countries, is still contending with extreme poverty at home, especially in the rural north-east, so it knows the challenges first-hand. Brazil’s experts are not part of an overpriced development industry, but are drawn directly from sector ministries and give their time as part of their regular salaried jobs. People responsible for success at home are very ones sent abroad, providing direct link and plenty of experience to share with counterparts, with the Brazilian Co-operation Agency playing only a co-ordinating role (…..)

Link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/poverty-matters/2012/jun/28/western-donors-brazil-development-aid

Acerca de ignaciocovelo
Consultor Internacional

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