Wringing Success from Failure in Late-Developing Countries: Lessons from the Field

Wringing Success from Failure in Late-Developing Countries: Lessons from the Field

Wringing Success from Failure in Late-Developing Countries: Lessons from the Field

Wringing Success from Failure in Late-Developing Countries: Lessons from the Field

Synopsis

Development has alleviated poverty in many countries during the 50 years since the end of War World II, yet half of mankind remains poor; a fifth are very poor. Poverty is not a state of nature, but, as Stepanek shows, can be ascribed to manmade institutions that reflect self-serving and self-indulgent ideologies, poorly tested theories and policies, weak governments, and poverty alleviation programs that are questionably designed and poorly administered. Dr. Stepanek asserts that poverty cannot be alleviated without challenging all of its root causes, and he shows that well-designed development strategies and foreign assistance programs can create growth and reduce poverty. Western governments, international banks, and donor agencies must reexamine how they design and administer foreign aid if they are to be successful. Stepanek explains foreign aid in general and in specific, in history and theory, and in its present and practical forms.

Excerpt

The Golden Gate bridge was high overhead, gleaming bright orange in the setting sun. World War ii had been over for two years when my mother, my brother, and I sailed across the Pacific to China. It was 1947, and I was standing on the deck of a recently converted troop ship, the U.S.S. General Gordon. We met my father in war-torn Shanghai and from there flew in a tattered DC-4 to a bomb-cratered dirt strip in Hunan Province for his United Nations small industries assignment. My father’s career carried us from Hunan, where we lived from 1947 to 1949; to Jakarta, from 1951 to 1953; to Rangoon in 1956 and 1957; and on to New Delhi, from 1959 to 1961.

A childhood spent in China and other distant places, sandwiched between seaboard passages and innumerable flights, led to a broad perspective and broader aspirations. I did not know then that I would become a willing captive of a government career in the United States Foreign Service, or that being a witness to global poverty would fire a heart-felt commitment to challenge it, which has not dissipated since youthful exposure. What might have been just another American childhood and just another government job became a passion and a continuing source of fascination, pride, and anger. Village China began a life-long love affair with development, and with foreign countries and cultures. I was captivated, even captured, by a chance encounter.

Asia’s rice paddies turned from green to gold and to green again with each passing monsoon. Seasonal cycles became timeless. Life abroad in eleven poor countries, first in Asia and then in Africa, and as a visitor to dozens of others, stretched my horizons backward and forward, beyond normal time frames. My adult life as a professional aid practitioner (or aid wallah, a Hindi word for office functionary) exposed me to the immediacy . . .

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