• Tuesday, September 30, 2014
  • A program of IPS Inter Press Service supported by the Dutch MDG3 Fund

    Foreign aid, elites and entrepreneurs

    28 Sep 2009


    On my way to the Sao Nicolau waterfall on the island of Sao Tome, I stumbled upon two Jurassic Parks of failed industrial development.

    Ghost factory. By M. Sayagues

    Ghost factory. By M. Sayagues

    At the coffee plantation Monte Café, to the left of its dilapidated pink colonial buildings, stands a huge shed. The caretaker unlocks a gigantic padlock and we step into a surreal décor for a tropical Blade Runner movie.

    The shed houses a web of pipes and drums, coffee-processing machinery made by the Brazilian company Pinhalense. It is huge, complex – and never used.

    The caretaker remembers when the machines were put in place, about a decade ago, but he never saw them working.

    Donors pulled the plug on this US$24 million project after US$14 were spent and a few siphoned off.                             More »

    Missing the Point? A critical review of MDG

    14 Sep 2009


    Next time you read a story or a press release moaning about how country X will not reach the Millennium Development Goals, think twice – whose goal and whose target is it? We know the deadline but do we know the baseline?

    Instead of striking a balance between ambition and realism, the MDGs have become “money-metric and donor-centric”, “meaningless catch-all phrases.”

    So says Jan Vandemoortele, a Belgian national, a United Nations senior official and one of the architects of the MDGs, in a thought-provoking article in the July issue of  Development Policy Review of the Overseas Development Institute. (read it here)

    Unrealistic? A crowded classrom in Guinea Bissau...

    Unrealistic goal? A crowded classroom in Guinea Bissau...

    The author recalls that the MDGs were set up in 2000 as collective targets based on extrapolations of global trends.  They are vague by definition; they are not one-size-fits-all.

    Instead, one should look at countries’ historical backgrounds, natural endowments and specific problems, then adapt the Goals to each circumstance, as Mozambique, Cambodia and Ethiopia have done.

    Otherwise, this puts undue pressure on the poorest countries and, given that most of these are in Africa, nurtures Afro-pessimism.

    For example, the global target for education “is not realistic” for countries in conflict, he says.                              More »