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Development Studies: Anthropology of International Aid Essay

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Development programs in 1990

Western developmental programs when in 1990 presumed the donor community of the late 1980s, it was seen as a diverse contribution from bilateral donors providing multi-million-dollar loans to correct balance-of-payment difficulties to underdeveloped countries. From an emerging market to small NGOs community development programs, aid donors confronted various challenges in the form of critiques that targeted their attempts to provide financial assistance (Hoy 1998, 136).

No doubt the programs succeeded in stimulating economic growth and development but in the demand and supply sector of cocaine in countries like Thailand. This served as the basis for remaining a subject of critical negative attitude for the officials remained unable to seize the prevention of large scale illicit trafficking and drug production in supplier and consumer countries (INCB, Overview).

What critics say?

Critics led many of the political development of discursive power to transform the aid into programs undertaken in developing countries and have likely brought few tangible results with no restriction on drug abuse. The reason was in fact, that despite spending billions of dollars in foreign aid underdeveloped countries remained unable to cooperate and restrict the supply of drugs with the donor countries of the West.

Theoretical grounds for such critics include the political influence of drug supply and demand reduction policies through which it was obvious to the aid receiving development community that key institutional changes to reduce corruption were a precondition to successful adjustment. At the back end of the financial assistance was Congress raising issues on challenging the ‘war on drugs’ for which it was sending millions of dollars aid to combat with the war on drugs.

However, it was revealed later that such assistance was presented to the militaries of Bolivia, Colombia, and Peru. Aid to drug-corrupted forces were directed towards fighting not against drug supply and demand but to leftist guerrillas and their civilian sympathizers (Scott & Marshall 1991). Another example is the case of heroin epidemic when in late 1980s Thailand escorted a decade and a half of CIA collaboration with opium-smuggling gangs and drug-corrupted regimes in the Golden Triangle of Burma, Laos, and Thailand (ibid).

Golden Triangle

While attempting to reduce drug trafficking, UN Chronicle (June 1990) suggests that traffickers changed routes where they found Thailand’s route as the easiest to be used as a gateway for the drug trafficking from the Golden Triangle. This was the main reason why Western nations quit financial support to underdeveloped countries.

Another reason for providing financial resource was the reflection of the financial crisis development theory in the 1990s which resulted in the sudden increase in the incidence of poverty in such countries as Indonesia, Thailand and South Korea. However, it was only after 1997 that the lack of appropriate safety nets provided a strong rationale for redirecting aid flows to alleviate poverty and improve human welfare, by eradicating drugs rational through the help of legal political framework that used foreign aid to help build institutions reducing recipient countries’ vulnerability (Tarp & Hjertholm 2000, 46).

Failure of assistance programs

The Western administrations have played a shell game with the figures about drugs, widely publicizing figures when they appeared to favor administration policies and conveniently ignoring them when they did not. For instance when in 1982 Reagan’s adviser on drug policy, argued that decreasing prices for cocaine, marijuana, and heroin did not indicate greater availability but less demand for the drugs, there remained other instances of manipulating the figures for drug use for political reasons (Johns 1992, 4).

After the failure of assistance programs when no progress was seen in the economic development of the undeveloped world, the administration used the excuse that because of the budget deficit the society can no longer afford social programs. Jacqueline (1992, 64) writes that with the political executives and ministers claim about the Reagan-created budget deficits doing their intended work, such deficits provide an automatic obstacle to any new support program.

So it is obvious that Americans may not want to help the poor though they are unable to afford. Choices about where to cut to reduce the budget deficit and how much to decrease it are just choices which are made whatsoever be the circumstances. The determination to make the poorest segments of the population pay for a budget deficit caused largely by the Reagan military buildup and massive giveaways to the rich reflects the increasingly crude and blatant abandonment of the lower class in the society. The War on Drugs has helped to create a political environment in which this abandonment can proceed not only without real opposition, but without need of even apologizing for it.

War on Drugs

The War on Drugs has escorted the West to contemplate upon how their attitude should discourage the disadvantaged but ‘drug addicted’ nations by creating the impression that if people would just stop trafficking in and taking drugs, everything would be fine. But the policies of political administrations have ensured that more people rather than less will be attracted to drug trafficking and use which is easy to see if one looks at some of the administration policies that have directly contributed to drug trafficking and abuse and that have led to far more devastating social damage than the use and trafficking of illegal drugs.

Political factors behind harm reduction

The success of demand reduction programs depends upon political factors of determinism of the government to tackle the problem like the provision of necessary financial resources and the effective implementation of ‘top-down’ and ‘bottom-up’ approaches simultaneously, without which it is irrational to expect positive outcomes from demand reduction programs. In this context ‘harm reduction’ prevention strategy is not to be considered as a substitute for demand reduction programs. However there are some strengths and vulnerabilities pertaining to the top down and bottom up approaches which could help in formulating effective drug reduction strategies.

Many NGOs support the drug policy reform from a top-down project effort of the government to a bottom-up multi-level initiative of organizations financially assisted by the government. The top-down projects no doubt are followed by motivation and dedication to detect the players of the project but once such projects are accomplished, it is difficult to go back to analyze and treat the harm reduction factor. In the past, state has been declared as an efficient and competent actor in reducing the supply of drugs by utilizing top-down projects through tough laws and measures. Top-down approach plays a vital role in monopolizing authority in the area of demand reduction.

For example, the national drug policy that had evolved by 1996 in Malaysia used four strategies to deal with the drug problem encompassing prevention, enforcement, rehabilitation and international cooperation. Treatment was never considered an option and the objective was still to attain a drug free society (Narayanan, Malaysian Illicit Drug Policy: Top- Down Multi-Agency Governance or Bottom-Up Multi-Level Governance).

Top-down bottom-up projects

Bottom-up approach was initiated in the name of harm reduction movement in the late 1990s which benefited the drug users by providing them shelter, assistance and clean object equipments to minimize the spread of infections. This approach helped in identifying the economic and social difficulties in Thailand which had been brewing for some time prior to July 1997, evidenced in the gradual decline in export growth and steady increase in current account deficits. The approach helped in identification of the causes behind the worsening external imbalances that were attributable to a slump in the international market for trafficking and, more importantly, to the rigid maintenance of the pegged exchange rate regime and the related problems of over valuation (Zhang 2002, 152).

Bottom-up Approach

Siriphon (2006) suggests that apart from the political conflicts on drug invasion and control, deforesting cultivation practices and opium cultivation have been a regular practice for Thai agricultural practices and ways of life which are intimately connected to drug use and thereby every year it increases the amount of opium users. When dealing with trafficking victims, the core characteristics of an organized form of activity is developed and implemented where complex actions need to be planned, carried out, and paid for.

Specialized functions come into being such as production, supervision, management, administration, bookkeeping, public relations, research, and human resources (Dichter 2003, 180). In a modern society, some of the measures against trafficking functions will be dictated by laws inclusive of spelling out the fiscal and other responsibilities of corporations or of nonprofits. To carry out these functions people need to be hired so as to keep a place to house the activity needs to be found and interventions need to be bought.

Political conflicts on drug invasion

Developing assistance agencies where large and small, public and private support have become increasingly focused on their own endurance, the combination of top-down and bottom-up approaches need is to effectively initiate many new development assistance agencies so as to have undertake serious internal reviews and ask themselves hard questions about their effectiveness.

These approaches while recognizing that one of the things NGOs and multilateral agencies must consider is to self-examine retreats and strategic planning workshops to become regular additions to the calendar. Wanting to ensure objectivity it is obvious that development organizations engage hundreds of outside consultants in reviewing organizational performance, assessing ‘capability gaps’ that various working groups are set up in.

Developing assistance agencies

Attempts to analyze the success of the approaches used reveals the general drug use patterns of injection drug users (IDUS) which have often been limited in many ways. Studies based on clients of drug treatment programs suggests that many of these treatment based studies utilize retrospective and self-reported information collected at the time of admission of the patient in health care. Such compelling concerns have enabled Western development to observe some radical shifts in drug use patterns in the underdeveloped countries where involving the rapid increase in the use of crack cocaine have shifted to have both an immediate and longer-term impact on those very factors that may have had a role in protecting exposure to the AIDS virus.

Ethnographic analyses suggest that because of this shift in drug use patterns, traditional network boundaries are beginning to dissolve. The assistance agencies who were previously isolated are now interacting with a new, younger, crack using population and because of these crack users appear to engage in more high-risk sexual behaviors, sex partners, and crack smokers are exposing themselves to a potentially larger reservoir of HIV (Brown & Beschner 1993, 68).

Works Cited

Brown S. Barry & Beschner M. George. Handbook on Risk of AIDS: Injection Drug Users and Sexual Partners: Greenwood Press: Westport, CT. 1993.

Dichter W. Thomas. Despite Good Intentions: Why Development Assistance to the Third World Has Failed: University of Massachusetts Press: Amherst, MA. 2003.

“General Assembly Message to World: Reduce Drug Demand!.” UN Chronicle. 1990: 27, 2: 53.

Hoy, Paula. Players and Issues in International Aid: Kumarian Press. West Hartford, CT. 1998.

INCB, Overview. 2009. Web.

Johns, Christina Jacqueline. Power, Ideology, and the War on Drugs: Nothing Succeeds like Failure: Praeger Publishers: New York. 1992.

Narayanan Suresh, “Malaysian Illicit Drug Policy: Top- Down Multi-Agency Governance or Bottom-Up Multi-Level Governance”. 2009. Web.

Scott Peter Dale & Marshall Jonathon. 1991. “”. Third World Traveller. Web.

Siriphon Aranya. “Local Knowledge, Dynamism and the Politics of Struggle: A Case Study of the Hmong in Northern Thailand”. Journal of Southeast Asian Studies.37:1. 2006: 65.

Tarp Finn & Hjertholm. Foreign Aid and Development: Lessons Learnt and Directions for the Future: Routledge, London. 2000.

Zhang Xiaoke. The Changing Politics of Finance in Korea and Thailand: From Deregulation to Debacle: Routledge: London. 2002.

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