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Shifting Power to Make a Difference - Essay Example

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In a world of inherent inequalities that we live in, there has been many attempts to achieve the ideal- the narrowing of the gap of the social divide. It is undeniable that there are rich countries that can afford luxuries as well as poor nations that have most of their population living in the quagmire of impoverished conditions…
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Shifting Power to Make a Difference
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Download file to see previous pages The problems that faces the institutions that handle international aid - whether they may be on the supply side or intermediaries- is how to best utilize the fund such that the intended improvements for the beneficiary are achieved. This has especially been a growing concern because even with the billions of dollars that have been donated and already consumed, much of the inequalities still remain and the gap seems to be growing. That is, the amount spent is not proportional to the benefits and development acquired whether it may be material or personal.
As with all issues and problems, a number of perceived solutions especially from scholars have been forwarded to address the inefficiency of handling and utilizing international aid. Robert Chambers and Jethro Pettit are two such scholars with their composition entitled "Shifting Power to Make a Difference". In this essay, the concept of power to control and to decide as confined to the few is the reason blamed for the inadequacy and inappropriateness of handling international aid. For Chambers and Pettit, the orientation of organizations tends to be non-inclusive meaning the donors usually dictate how the aid is going to be used. This become problematic because the donors may take an inappropriate and even a skewed perspective. Even with the best of intentions, it is simply not the same as asking and considering the voice of the beneficiaries what their problems and perceived solutions are and having them take a participatory role and not just a passive role in a matter that will ultimately be affecting their lives. The effect to the poor of confining decisions and implementations to the donor and intermediary is what Chambers and Pettit would call an "alien hand".
The authors recognize that the problem is in the system and not some external factor. With power already confined to those in the upper echelons, the "norms and procedures combined with personal behavior, attitudes and beliefs, serve to reinforce these existing power relations." (p. 137)
Chambers and Pettit identify four action domains that should address the problem with the system and personal behavior. They are the following:
Understanding and Analyzing Power
Within the mechanism involved in international aid lies the basic issue of who gets to decide and who gets to control. To effect change, we must first be aware of the power relations that exist and determine their impact on aid and development. Only thru awareness and understanding of these power relations can we get an idea of how to best acquire and use it. The authors point out that with knowledge of the implications of the power exercised by donor agencies can they realize the importance of sharing power such as encouraging beneficiaries to make a more proactive stance. The attitude of "I give therefore I decide" could be avoided by acknowledging that those who received are the ones ultimately affected and should therefore be given an opportunity to voice out their opinion.
Narrowing the gaps between words and actions
For Chamber and Pitt, the lingo used in international aid is problematic. As an example, they cite the use of the word "partnership" which "implies collegial equality and mutual reciprocity" but in reality, only those "who control the funding call the shots". What ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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