Millennials Hall of Fame : fazle abed :: Fei-Fei Li :: sustainability's last race: 2020s mapping & zooming coalition of free SDG uni's- one per 20 million youth Thanks to the moon race decade of 1960s, we all became alumnisat (connected by telecoms satellites) including more recent web 1-2-3. Q why not COLLAB round one GOUP - Global Open University Poverty (last mile service solutions community to community)HG Wells - civilisation is a race between education and catastrophe:
coming how do the 51 years of alumni of fazle abed poverty alleviator cooperations match up with 76 years of the united nations - we map abed top36 hunicorn networks - being networks whose purpose is so life critical nobody wants to exit investment or politically quarrel over just replicating their services and improving access to their action learning

Saturday, March 6, 2021


Smillie: Fifty years ago, Pearson identified a 'crisis in aid.' It's still with us

One wonders what the world might have looked like today had the former prime minister's recommendations been implemented — even by halves.

Article content

The Pearson Report, published 50 years ago this month, is not much remembered among practitioners, academics and policy wonks who toil in the fields of international development. Too bad. I knew I would remember it because, as an impressionable young CUSO field staff officer home briefly from Nigeria, I had the privilege of meeting the former prime minister just after his report was published.

There are better reasons to remember it than that, not least because it was aimed at ending extreme poverty in developing countries. Since then there has been progress, but five decades later half the world’s population lives on less than $6 U.S. a day, and nearly one billion still live on less than $2.

Partners in Development: Report of the Commission on International Development remains important for many reasons, most notably because it identified almost all of failings of the development enterprise and proposed remedies that remain valid today. It spoke of the necessity of universal primary education, of vast needs in health and nutrition, the importance of food production and research in agriculture — all part of today’s UN Sustainable Development Goals, and all as elusive as ever.  It identified the debt burden of developing countries as an issue needing urgent attention — at a time when it was five per cent of what it became. It spoke at length of the need to develop the private sector in the developing world for local investment and manufacturing.


This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

Five decades later, half the world’s population lives on less than $6 U.S. a day, and nearly one billion still live on less than $2.

The Pearson Report saw trade liberalization as a major solution to long-term development, and it may have been the first major development publication to use the term “structural adjustment”:

“The growth of world trade must be accompanied by liberalization. This in turn implies a willingness on the part of industrialized countries to make the structural adjustments which will enable them to absorb an increasing range of manufactures and semi-manufactures from developing countries.”

What actually occurred was the polar opposite: a prescription requiring developing countries to open their economies to the manufacturers of the world, while swallowing medicine that weakened their abilities to invest in the education, health, infrastructure and research required for competition in the global economy.

Pearson talked about a “crisis in aid”: the damage caused by tied aid (requiring procurement in the donor country), the wastefulness of “technical assistance” (sending expensive international experts), aid skewed in favour of some countries while others — often the neediest — were ignored, and low overall volumes of official development assistance (ODA). The report said that “international support for development is now flagging. In some of the rich countries its feasibility, even its very purpose is in question. The climate surrounding foreign aid is heavy with disillusion and distrust” — a cry that rings down the decades as an excuse for rich countries to seek advantage, cut back, do less, do nothing.Pearson set a target: “Each developed country should increase its commitments of ODA … to reach 0.7% of its gross national product by 1975 or shortly thereafter, but in no case later than 1980.” Rhetorically embraced but resisted in deed by most donor countries, including Canada (currently at 0.28%), the clarion cry today is for “blended finance,” a nostrum that will somehow bring the private sector galloping to the rescue of the Sustainable Development Goals.

One wonders what the world might have looked like today had the Pearson recommendations been implemented — even by halves: had trade from developing countries been advanced rather than blocked; had investment in local capacities not been constricted; had debt fallen instead of skyrocketed; had aid been used more intelligently and reached anything like the targets that were set. How many maternal and child deaths might have been prevented? How many famines, pandemics, conflicts and refugees avoided?

If you’re interested, you can find a used copy of The Pearson Report online for a dollar, considerably less than the $2.95 it cost in 1969. Its importance today lies in its dramatic demonstration that very few modern ideas about development are new. And it is a sobering and tragic reminder — if one is needed — of 50 years of lost opportunity and broken promises in the world of international development.

Ian Smillie, a long-time international development practitioner, is the author of several books including The Alms BazaarThe Charity of Nations and Freedom From Want.

No comments:

Post a Comment