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Aid, Development and Power: Perceptions and Relations in the Gulu Development Community

Olsson, Andreas LU (2010) SGEM01 20101
Department of Human Geography
Abstract
International development aid is big business. A flow of funds reaches the Global South each year, creating aid clusters with concentrated implementing development organizations. This study looks closer at development in practice in one of these aid hubs, studying the relations between the development community of Gulu, Northern Uganda, and its clients. In focus are power relations between the organizations and their clients, as well as among the actors in the community.

The aim of the study is to look closer at the development community in Gulu to understand how its self-perception and perception of its clients shape the development assistance given. This is driven by a desire to understand the implementation of development policies,... (More)
International development aid is big business. A flow of funds reaches the Global South each year, creating aid clusters with concentrated implementing development organizations. This study looks closer at development in practice in one of these aid hubs, studying the relations between the development community of Gulu, Northern Uganda, and its clients. In focus are power relations between the organizations and their clients, as well as among the actors in the community.

The aim of the study is to look closer at the development community in Gulu to understand how its self-perception and perception of its clients shape the development assistance given. This is driven by a desire to understand the implementation of development policies, thus studying the practice of development field-work. The research question for the study is How do representatives from the Gulu development community perceive their own work and the relation to their clients?, which in turn has been divided into three smaller questions in order to ease the practical study.

The study presents a theoretical framework grounded in ideas of development and poverty, and points to how processes of ‗Othering‘ creates and maintain the notions of poor and other marginalized groups. The methodology used is qualitative, with 20 semi-structured interviews and participant observations conducted during two months of field-work in Gulu, and the analysis is done through a discourse analysis.

The study finds that the impact of development has led to an inflated local economy, hurting those with the least the most. In the wake of economic globalization and development there is a change of local culture as well, leading to clashes between tradition and modernity. The many interventions have led to a wide-spread dependency of the services introduced, coupled with high expectations of what development can and should provide.

The development community itself is very concentrated both geographically and in terms of types of interventions, leading to a need of coordination and both to cooperation and competition over limited resources. This competition leads to a need for visibility, especially for smaller organizations, while many organizations tap into current or even obsolete symbolism in order to attract funding. There are high expectations of aid in the development community, but a frustration over the perceived little impact. This fuels assumptions of inefficiency and corruption of other actors, but one‘s own role is seldom evaluated.

The study also finds that development interventions often restrain the agency of clients, as decisions are based on presumptions rather than a dialogue with clients. As development practitioners act as self-proclaimed representatives of the non-privileged, the clients are subject to others‘ decisions and have to accept what is given. This causes a dilemma when it comes to weighting different opinions against each other, leading to sometimes contradicting interventions competing for the same clients. (Less)
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author
Olsson, Andreas LU
supervisor
organization
course
SGEM01 20101
year
type
H1 - Master's Degree (One Year)
subject
keywords
Uganda, Gulu, Development, Agency, Power
language
English
id
1553520
date added to LUP
2010-03-15 13:53:08
date last changed
2011-01-28 16:01:33
@misc{1553520,
  abstract     = {International development aid is big business. A flow of funds reaches the Global South each year, creating aid clusters with concentrated implementing development organizations. This study looks closer at development in practice in one of these aid hubs, studying the relations between the development community of Gulu, Northern Uganda, and its clients. In focus are power relations between the organizations and their clients, as well as among the actors in the community.

The aim of the study is to look closer at the development community in Gulu to understand how its self-perception and perception of its clients shape the development assistance given. This is driven by a desire to understand the implementation of development policies, thus studying the practice of development field-work. The research question for the study is How do representatives from the Gulu development community perceive their own work and the relation to their clients?, which in turn has been divided into three smaller questions in order to ease the practical study.

The study presents a theoretical framework grounded in ideas of development and poverty, and points to how processes of ‗Othering‘ creates and maintain the notions of poor and other marginalized groups. The methodology used is qualitative, with 20 semi-structured interviews and participant observations conducted during two months of field-work in Gulu, and the analysis is done through a discourse analysis.

The study finds that the impact of development has led to an inflated local economy, hurting those with the least the most. In the wake of economic globalization and development there is a change of local culture as well, leading to clashes between tradition and modernity. The many interventions have led to a wide-spread dependency of the services introduced, coupled with high expectations of what development can and should provide.

The development community itself is very concentrated both geographically and in terms of types of interventions, leading to a need of coordination and both to cooperation and competition over limited resources. This competition leads to a need for visibility, especially for smaller organizations, while many organizations tap into current or even obsolete symbolism in order to attract funding. There are high expectations of aid in the development community, but a frustration over the perceived little impact. This fuels assumptions of inefficiency and corruption of other actors, but one‘s own role is seldom evaluated.

The study also finds that development interventions often restrain the agency of clients, as decisions are based on presumptions rather than a dialogue with clients. As development practitioners act as self-proclaimed representatives of the non-privileged, the clients are subject to others‘ decisions and have to accept what is given. This causes a dilemma when it comes to weighting different opinions against each other, leading to sometimes contradicting interventions competing for the same clients.},
  author       = {Olsson, Andreas},
  keyword      = {Uganda,Gulu,Development,Agency,Power},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Aid, Development and Power: Perceptions and Relations in the Gulu Development Community},
  year         = {2010},
}