Since the bourgeois government came to power in 2006, there has been a positive development on the development assistance front, writes Henrik G Ehrenberg, chairman of KIC and vice chairman of the idea institute Civitas. At the same time, there is still a lot to do. The development assistance has a turnover of SEK 31 billion in 2013. What the money is used for should be given greater interest from the bourgeoisie.
Many bourgeois representatives have, for various reasons, been perceived as, or have been, opposed to international aid. For a long time, the question was one of the left's proofs of the bourgeoisie's lack of solidarity. Yet it is precisely bourgeois governments that in the 1990s and 2000s maintained the one percent target in their budgets. The participation of the Christian Democrats in government has contributed to safeguarding solidarity with those who in other parts of the world are not as fortunate as we are.
Since the Alliance Government took office in 2006, two things in particular have happened that have turned Swedish aid in the right direction. The first is an increasing focus on being able to measure the results of development assistance. Although the process has been difficult for many, it is basically important for those we work with, but also for those who protect aid and want to be able to show that there is no money in the lake. As a matter of fact, it is necessary to find methods to be able to determine when an aid effort must change direction or be interrupted. Ultimately, it is about the aid actually benefiting people in vulnerability and oppression.
The second is the focus on human rights and democracy. That development assistance should contribute to a positive development in these areas is now constantly found in the Government Offices' writings on development assistance.
Demands for more performance measurement in development assistance have tended to create more - and unnecessary - bureaucracy.
However, much remains to be done. Demands for more performance measurement in development assistance have tended to create more - and unnecessary - bureaucracy. The debate about what results and how the goals should be formulated has also been difficult to handle. In a certain desperation to still be able to refute something quantitatively, it tends to count on superficial production. The number of new school desks and installed water treatment plants is easier to calculate than to measure the results of development assistance, which primarily wants to change structures. In order for the positive with increased demands for performance measurement not to become a parenthesis in development aid policy, the area must be further developed and also defined more clearly politically.
One area that is difficult to quantify is precisely democracy and human rights. How do you measure whether an effort to support independent journalistic reports from civil war Syria has had an effect on the development of democracy in the country, as long as the Assad government remains and continues to massacre its own population? A result in this area can simply be equivalent to an enabling action. The fact that a human rights activist in Belarus has not been imprisoned or that a Democrat in Cuba has been able to blog about his opinion is in itself a result.
However, the Swedish development aid debate has not penetrated the question of how poverty is eradicated without necessarily doing so with subsidies and state-produced welfare à la the social democratic model.
The main purpose of Swedish aid must be the fight to eradicate poverty. However, the Swedish development aid debate has not penetrated the question of how poverty is eradicated without necessarily doing so with subsidies and state-produced welfare à la the social democratic model. There is a great need for the bourgeoisie to seriously discuss the content of development aid as well, in order to leave significant and important traces in how it is designed. This cannot be done alone by stating that we in Sweden have a broad view of what poverty is. This must be done by clearly allocating funds and resources to seriously strengthen democracy and freedom around the world.
Assistance should prioritize the following areas:
First, humanitarian emergency aid must be protected and developed. It is obvious that people who are exposed to famines, earthquakes, floods and wars do not have the best conditions to manage their livelihoods on their own. In disaster situations, rapid and massive efforts are often required to prevent people from starving, being killed or freezing to death. Work is also needed to intensify when the direct catastrophe, flood or war has subsided so that people can get help even when the TV cameras have disappeared. The transition from short-term assistance to long-term development must be strengthened.
Secondly, the prioritization of human rights and democracy must also be given economic substance. The Alliance has no problem describing in words why the area is so important, but so far the economic priorities have slipped behind.
Secondly, the prioritization of human rights and democracy must also be given economic substance. The Alliance has no problem describing in words why the area is so important, but so far the economic priorities have slipped behind. The importance of democracy in the fight against poverty is clearly underestimated. Therefore, support for political democratization and the actors of change that exist in dictatorships, authoritarian states and countries in the midst of democratic change must receive greater and more effective support than today. The significance of democracy is partly that violent revolts or coups, which only lead from one dictatorship to another, risk destroying the results that aid to the country has been involved in building up. But above all, it is about democracies being better at safeguarding the interests of the entire population and meeting the basic needs of all.
An important part of this is about providing support for the building of institutions, such as functioning parliaments, governments, the police and the military. In the example of Somalia, any effort to promote economic development is in principle meaningless, as long as the institutions have been completely lacking or powerless. Aid should also more clearly promote the building of a state monopoly on violence.
Aid has much to learn from the importance of economic growth and that it is driven by companies - in low- and middle-income countries often by small-scale companies.
Thirdly, Swedish development assistance should be based on the fact that poverty reduction is based on economic growth - something that requires a focus on creating basic conditions for business and entrepreneurship to function. In order for growth to have more space in development assistance, more of the international cooperation must contribute to reforms for free enterprise and free trade, as well as a greater involvement of the business community in the efforts that are made. Aid has much to learn from the importance of economic growth and that it is driven by companies - in low- and middle-income countries often by small-scale companies. It also means that companies can become better at contributing to sustainable economic development and contributing to broader responsibility.
Fourthly, and perhaps most importantly, development aid must be based on the realization that a good society is being built with a good balance between the state, business and civil society.
Fourthly, and perhaps most importantly, development aid must be based on the realization that a good society is being built with a good balance between the state, business and civil society. Three parts, with different tasks and which must not dominate at the expense of the other. There is a danger that Swedish development assistance will focus too one-sidedly on government initiatives and forget the role that business and civil society have for a functioning society. It is not uncommon to come across ideas based on the fight against poverty with state-funded social services. This at the same time as much of the welfare structure that actually exists in many developing countries is based on the various efforts of civil society, in care, school and social work. Good societies are built in balance between its various parts, and the focus of Swedish development assistance should support such a development, not threaten it.
The development assistance has a turnover of 31 billion in 2013. What that money is used for should be given greater and positive interest from the bourgeoisie.
Henrik G Ehrenberg
Chairman of KIC and vice chairman of the Ideas Institute Civilas