The Samaritan's Dilemma: The Political Economy of Development Aid

By Clark C. Gibson | Go to book overview

9 Sida Aid in Electricity and Natural Resource Projects in India

9.1 USING INSTITUTIONAL ANALYSIS

We now apply the ideas developed in previous chapters to specific aid projects in India and Zambia. To facilitate comparative analysis, we examine five projects that were in either public infrastructure or natural resources sectors in countries of high and low aid-dependence (see Chapter 1 , Figure 1.1).While the short-term nature of our fieldwork for each case prevents a fine-grained analysis of these five cases, the cases nevertheless illustrate the central theoretical findings of our earlier chapters with reference to extant development aid projects.

In this chapter, we examine two development assistance projects undertaken by Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) in India—“The Capacity Building for Participatory Management of Degraded Forests in Orissa” and “The Chandrapur-Padghe High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) Converter Terminal Project” in Maharashtra. 1 These case studies demonstrate the use of institutional analysis as a diagnostic tool and illustrate how problems of motivation and asymmetric information arise within the complex mix of actors involved in a project, presenting distinct challenges for sustainable development. 2

These cases also reveal two larger themes derived from our earlier analysis. The first theme relates to the nature of the underlying collective-action problem that gives rise to the existing incentive problem. Here, we need to ask why existing institutions have failed, how those trapped in social dilemmas can overcome this failure, and (only then) how development assistance can help. Both cases provide examples in which the underlying collective-action problems are not addressed successfully.

The second major theme relates to ownership. Ownership of an asset refers to participation in provision, production, consumption, and decision making related to its continued use. In the field, these attributes are often dispersed among the donor, the consultant, and the formal owner or recipient. The actual beneficiaries, who often have an enormous stake in the outcome of a project, however, are often excluded from the prerogatives and privileges of ownership. Poorly defined and improperly vested ownership can hamper the success and sustainability of an aid project.

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