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Beyond poverty alleviation?

by | Feb 10, 2017 | Rethinking development | 51 comments

I just read a post by Efosa Ojomo, a Research Fellow at the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation (what a great name!), that argued for a shift in thinking from poverty to prosperity. What if the alleviation of poverty is the wrong problem that development aid is trying to tackle? He says that we have, for too long, thought of poverty as the lack of resources, and therefore the solution to be the provision of resources. This doesn’t actually lead to prosperity–to people having a prosperous and good life. He lists a number of examples that show how providing some resource according to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) doesn’t make a difference. Case in point: to ensure water and sanitation for all (SDG 6), the Indian government started a campaign to provide toilets to more than 60 million households by 2019. But two years and 10 million toilets later, not many people are using them. The Indian government is even considering paying people to use the toilets!

Ojomo writes:

The eradication of poverty is not the same as the creation of prosperity… The theory that poverty is a resource problem cannot answer both questions. In fact, creating prosperity is a process problem, not a resource problem… A process is the way people use their resources. For example, if I had $100 (a resource) and I chose to purchase alcohol to feed my habit (a process), the impact of that resource on my life would be vastly different than if I chose to invest it in starting a small business. Same resource, different processes, different impact. In order to create prosperity, development practitioners and programmes such as the SDGs must focus on fostering processes.

The emphasis on process and people’s actions resonates with anthropological perspectives. and I see myself nodding to the proposition. But if the target of intervention should be the buying of alcohol (stop him from doing that), in the example above, isn’t this a form of governmentality? What does prosperity mean to different people, anyways?

What do you think?


  1. Kyle

    I feel that the example of the alcohol does not seem to be as much about stopping someone from buying alcohol rather about creating a situation where they would end up with more resources at the end and if they choose to do so they could still buy the alcohol with the gained resources. The goal of focusing on the process seems to be about resulting in a net gain of resources more so than just providing the resources at the beginning.

  2. Joss Bennett 94763920

    The issue of targeting ‘process’, as highlighted by Ojomo, is a way of allowing people to use resources more effectively which will in turn lead to them gaining prosperity. This would be a new focus in development which would create prosperity rather than alleviating poverty. We must keep in mind issues relating to the universality of prosperity which can be identified as often stemming from western ideas of success which are therefore not universal. Linking with Foucauldian ideas of governmentality and the embodiment of government values we can assess the issue of focusing on ‘process’ which could result in the imposing of Western values onto people who’s own culturally relative ideas are not taken into account and thus impacting the effectiveness of the strategy in allowing for true grassroots development.

  3. Marisa Bell

    Much like you, I found myself nodding at the proposition of reforming processes for prosperity opposed to band-aiding the wounds of poverty so-to-speak. If the dynamics of governmentality may now be considered as transnational governance beyond the boundaries of global and nation-state policies, perhaps, development practitioners and anthropological insight can lead to a deeper understanding of individual’s specific needs for developing their own ideas of prosperity. For example, ideas may differ from Euro-American ideas to level of education attainment, longevity of education and quality of curriculum.

  4. Lucy Attwooll-Jones 9680831

    It strikes me that the problem here lies with the definition of prosperity. In both cases, the resources given have not met the perceived requirements for those to whom they provided. In addition, the idea that providing infrastructure and/or utilities will lead to their automatic acceptance and usage where they previously did not exist, appears naive. As it would require people to change their way of life. After all if you had never used a toilet and were provided with one at the age of thirty it might not seem useful to you. Ultimately the idea of prosperity is different for those in poverty and those of outside of it.

    • MARVIN MASUBO 9128921

      I agree that the problem lies in the processes of creating prosperity but must also mention that prosperity is viewed very differently by different creeds and cultures. For instance the Hadzabe people of Tanzania who live as nomads and have rejected all attempts from the government to assimilate them into the “modern” Tanzanian society see prosperity in a way that’s unique to them. No amount of modern infrastructure, utilities or technology has managed to entice them into joining the strange world that the rest of the country lives in despite the hardships they face out in the Savannah. To help people one must first come to terms with their ideas and understanding of prosperity otherwise one is left providing in the same situation as the Indian government: Providing your idea of prosperity and having to pay people to buy into it.

  5. Hannah Adamson

    I found the article to be very interesting because it highlights issues with development strategies being applied to multiple countries without regard for culture/local issues/differences between countries. I would view the UN SDGs as primarily pushing Western neoliberal development on countries that may be better off without intervention from intergovernmental organisations.
    Additionally, some of the goals, such as ending poverty I would argue are slightly far fetched especially when poverty exists in the UK (supposedly a developed country) and the government does not seem committed to ending it here.
    The alcohol example is a poor one I think and detracts from the argument that is initially trying to be made. I fully endorse the need to create prosperity and equal opportunity for all etc. and the alcohol example suggests that some people inherently can’t be trusted to do the right thing. I would argue that the majority of people who spend their last £10 on alcohol have a problem, whether that be down to structural problems, poverty, loss of job, family problems or mental health problems. Therefore, following this trail of thought if development encourages prosperity the chances of people spending their last money on alcohol would significantly fall because they’d be in a better position.
    There is a need with the SDGs to focus on nuances between countries and the differences in practical application.

  6. Ruby Thornton 9417849

    If many SDGs are pushing resources focused on the wrong problem, then it seems what was missed was an understanding of not only what people need, but how they would use it. This makes me think that if there can be an acceptance that there is a misunderstanding of how to eradicate poverty – or provide prosperity – (meaning a need to focus on process not resources), what now needs a clearer focus, is what counts as poverty/prosperity to a particular group of people, and how this might relate to their use of resources. While a focus on a process does strongly suggest a governmentality, the final goal seems as much in question as the means in which to get there.

  7. Lucy

    I think that Ojomo’s post makes a useful and important contribution to the idea of how to tackle poverty through development projects. A universal system of providing those in poverty with resources takes away from these people’s ability to acquire them for themselves and will therefore be less likely to alleviate themselves in the long term. Although it is helpful to provide food and shelter for those who have failed to achieve it on their own, I can see how Ojomo’s way of thinking would possibly be more successful in tackling poverty by revaluating who to target their efforts at. As the failed MDGs are so heavily focused on children I think he makes a good point that adult health and standard of living is equally as important and could pose a break through in their success. This is evidence that governmentality is contextual and must be specific to each area that it is taking place in. To increase the positive effects of projects such as the SDGs there could be more analytical research into the local context that the projects are operating in order to improve their quality of line in relation to their own local definition of prosperity and happiness.

  8. Sarah Bretton

    I believe that the idea of “give a man a fish vs teach a man to fish” comes into play here. Ojomo is arguing that the issue is not lack of resources themselves but how said resources are used, the “process” of the resources. Thus, people need to be educated in how to best use their resources for maximum gain. With prosperity being the ultimate goal in many poverty stricken areas one would be inclined to believe that the people will try their hardest to use their resources wisely. However, as Ojomo says, things such as alcoholism and also drug addiction cause issues with resources use. If one were to use their resources to fund a drug or alcohol addiction, this money is not being put back into the economy or being used to better this person or the area in any way. Therefore, what needs to happen is an education, people need to be educated in how to use their resources. The government could set up systems to educate people in the basics of investing in small companies, starting a small company themselves, the basics of supply and demand; that we often get out of the economy what we put in it. This could result in the better use of the resources that people in poverty come across. However, this seems to be all that the state can do. The state cannot simply dictate how people spend their money or use their resources in general. This would be an overt abuse of power.
    Then also comes the issue of what is prosperity? What does prosperity mean to people? The definition is that it is being affluent and successful in the material sense. Yet, prosperity can go further, this brings forth the question, “does money buy happiness?” We must be careful when delivering aid that we do not take an ethnocentric mindset; money may be very important in our culture, but in different cultures it may not be so central. We must be careful not to simply take prosperity at its surface meaning. To some, prosperity may mean being socially rich; having a happy family or a close group of friends. We have to consider the cultural differences when referring to “prosperity.”

  9. Fred Craig 8952215

    I find this article and its arguments concerning. To my eyes it seems that Ojomo is repackaging all the distasteful ideas of Reagan’s neoliberalism and 19th century puritanism with the language of NGOs, perhaps not so surprising from a fellow of Harvard Business School.

    The key ideas behind this article is that the question of poverty, and all those of inequalities of wealth and resources, are moot and secondary to that of process of prosperity. That we should focus more on making people behave like capitalists (investing in small businesses etc) and correcting behaviour to fit the market model, rather than addressing the imbalance. In this sense it is a form of foucauldian governmentality, designed to make poor bodies more productive and obedient to the current system. It posits the process of private wealth accumulation as the means to ending poverty, rather than a cause of it.

    Recent estimates by Oxfam put forward that 8 people own as much wealth as the poorest 50% of global population. We live in an age of widening resource inequality, where the rich keep getting richer, and the poor keep getting poorer. And yet, this article seems to posit that this chronic poverty is result of individuals squandering or not knowing how to use the resources they receive? It does not question whether children not learning in schools is a result of the funding of these free schools receive, the materials and teachers they can afford, the class sizes they are forced to operate at. It does not ask if perhaps a better solution to the problems of paid secondary schools is obtaining the resources to create free ones.

    This article seeks to absolve the rich of responsibility for their accumulation of resources, and shift the blame onto individuals behaviour in terms of how the poor make use of resources. It is thinly veiled propaganda in favour of market economics, of the capitalist system, and of individualising and de-materialising the causes of poverty.


  10. Lily Johnson

    For the majority of the article, I too see myself nodding along. I believe giving resources-such as the toilet example in India, to those in poverty is unhelpful. As in this case, a clear lack of understanding from the Indian government thinking this would reach the westernised SDG’s. Yet, as Ojomo illustrates this does not create prosperity and alleviate people from poverty. Resultantly prosperity is not a resource problem. I think this is a clear example of governmentality as the Indian government are even considering paying people to use the toilets. Thus, trying to change norms and values to adhere to the governments ideology of a respectful ‘sanitary’ citizen. Saying this, I think the example of the $100, notifies the issues about development. I believe success is a case-by-case basis, as one person spends it on alcohol, another on starting a new business. This is where I can see a small downfall of the article, there must be cases whereby giving resources to those in poverty has worked in the past, or why would we still implement the SDGs, even if it a Westernised view of development. However, I agree with Ojomo for the vast majority of the article, and can see the reliance of governmentality in preposing the SDG’s and implementing them.

  11. Abby Harrison

    The issues with the SDGs are multiple. If the 1st was “eradicate racism” then much else would fall into place. Efosa Ojomo discusses in what ways ‘poverty’ is conceptualised as a problem. Lack of resources, does not speak to the multi-faceted and relational reality of ‘poverty’. Lack of toilets interacts with more than one of the SDGs, when that lack is an absence of gender specific toilets. Safe toilet facilities for girls/women impacts on real access to education, which obviously adds to gender inequality in some contexts.

    Ojomo’s conclusion is to reshape the development projects perspective, from pushing resources to changing the process in which the issues – highlighted by SDGs – are attacked. The idea of ‘moral imperatives’ from the perspective of a western government body such as the UN, must mean ethnocentricity. Besides a clear moral problem with ethnocentricity, being out of touch with the lived reality of people, and their contexts, it tends to mean a lack of real progress. Without knowing the details of the Indian example it is hard to make comment, but one would assume a mission on such a large scale isn’t going to take in the diversity of cultural need. I do think that, of course, Foucalt’s governmentality is in play. Are the political elite of Indian government capable of differentiating their own need from the people’s needs? Some statistics act to lower a nation states status on a global scale more than actually impact lives.

    My initial reaction to the article was, who is the ‘we’ that is to “alleviate extreme poverty”. If the development project is still essentially neo-colonial and simply about drawing ‘poor’ countries, and more importantly people, into capitalism, then huge mistakes will always be made. The bigger question for me is, do government bodies like the UN really want ‘poor’ countries to prosper and escape their reach?

  12. Connor Davies 9075810

    I agree with Ojomo’s idea of targeting processes would help create prosperity. In particular, in the way, the education system has failed to provide basic literacy skills to half of fifth-grade students in India, and where often, in poor countries, a majority of the youth are unemployed. If the children are not befitting from the current education system, improvements could me made by moving away from a standardized education system, and educate children with skills they could utilise at the local level (whatever that may be) in order to ensure that the time spent at school is not wasted on learning skills designed for professions they will never attain. One way to go about this is by involving the local communities in development schemes, for example, in formulating new education strategies.

  13. Lars Holdgate 9453930

    I feel that from the above discussion, the provision of toilets and sanitation facilities is abstracted from the wider contextual framework that would otherwise explain the the lack of success of this project, as well as economic choices made by actors. Partly this is because I understand prosperity to be a procedural phenomenon that can only be achieved through enactment, whereas the eradication of poverty is portrayed as being a finality, which however, remains to be relational to the condition of society as a whole. I ask if this is the main problem that should be tackled, and if there is any link between this particular form of engagement and prosperity. Similarly I consider the example of alcohol to be problematic: for the individual purchasing it, it may be a more logical allocation of resources than investment into a small business that may, or may not, provide long term gain. Consumption of alcohol tends to be justified if someone is wealthy but condemned if they are poor, subsequently pointing to moral questions of the right to consumption. As you mentioned, this alludes to governmentality, its enforcement however remains to be questionable if actors are supposedly free to make choices. The ‘rationality’ of the actor will only develop after adaptation to the structural reconfigurations caused by outside intervention; a time lag covers the reorganisation of values and subsequent behavioural change.

  14. Rebecca Spruce

    In my opinion, a lot of development projects focus too much on the goals they have set out to achieve and on the numerical data they have received – which may not be as informative as is required to implement successful and sustainable interventions. Anthropology has the ability to understand a situation from the perspective of the people, through participant observation and with the discipline’s greater focus on the social aspects of a culture and society that may, in fact, be the root of the issues of poverty within a community. The understandings of prosperity vary. ‘Doing well’ and being prosperous from the perspective of the development agency may be different to communities’ perspectives. As Ojomo explains, providing the resources may not lead to prosperous communities if they do not utilise these resources in a sustainable and effective way. Western understandings of prosperity often discuss it in reference to wealth and economic prosperity. Whereas for a lot of other societies prosperity may be signified by being able to live a life with access to the ‘basic human needs’.

    A focus on the processes of the individuals in the societies receiving the development interventions does present a clear form of Foucault’s (1978) concept of ‘governmentality’. Impacting individuals’ actions so that they act in accordance with the development project so that it is successful shows the agencies’ ‘conduct of conduct’ as they try to shape behaviour. This understanding raises the question of whether all development projects are forms of governmentality, as they all aim to change the behaviour of the society receiving their help as changing their processes is the possible way to cause important changes that could help them get out of poverty. However, on one hand, this ‘governmentality’ is not necessarily negative, as Foucault argues that it is a ‘positive’ form of power, seeking to benefit the people and to maintain their welfare. The individuals still have freedom in their actions, but the development agencies work on changing their processes for the benefit of the individuals and their society as a whole. Therefore this ‘conduct of conduct’ can be positive and productive. On the other hand, if development agencies have different understandings of prosperity and impose projects that will not benefit the people, the governmentality exercised can be negative and dangerous and the goal of alleviating poverty will not be reached.

    As Ferguson (1990) explains, a lot of development agencies’ projects fail due to their standardisation and uniform aspects that run throughout development projects. A lot of interventions are only possible if they follow specific standard forms, as the plans will not be approved if they involve unfamiliar elements due to them being more difficult to implement. Therefore, as seen in the article, solutions such as providing resources like food or safe water, which may have been the solution for many other projects, are often not the correct or successful options, but they are known and have previously been approved.

  15. Sumire Ebara 10060673

    I agree with his argument that the focus the process on the eradication of poverty is closer solution to achieve the development goals rather than the focus on providing resources. If aid workers do not observe where the resources they provided go and how they are used, there is no way for them to make sure that the life of the poor has been improved. I think this is not only applied to the case of development but also our everyday life. For example, if a university decides to provide students £100 scholarship (resource), the students may use the money to buy alcohol or cigarette contrarily to the purpose of the scholarship. In order to prevent that, the university needs to control and observe the students’ use of the money. However, that means a form of intervention.
    In addition, the case of toilets in India proves us how important it is to know if the resources we provide are really necessary for the targeted group of people before implementing any development projects. And I think anthropological approach can help understand the needs of local people.
    In my opinion, the kind of unintentional intervention, which I mentioned above, always comes to play in the scenes of development projects, and it makes hard for aid workers to continue their work without involvement in politics or government. Yet, I have not come up with the way in which the contribution of aid workers can ever be completely non-governmental.

  16. Imogen Winter

    I think there is merit in this way of thinking – that the alleviation of poverty isn’t necessarily achieved solely through resources. Attempting to influence the way people act, through the promotion of particular processes as Ojomo describes is a form of Foucault’s governmentality. However, you could also make the argument that providing communities with resources is in itself a form of governmentality too, as you are encouraging certain forms of behaviour by making particular options available e.g. encouraging the use of toilets. However, the notion of governmentality is evident in all forms of development, whichever approach may be used.

  17. Sebastian Notarmarco Pope

    The idea of prosperity being the overall goal are very Western. While many other parts of the world have adopted the idea of prosperity being synonymous with success it might not be true for all countries and cultures. In stating that development should be aiming for that Ojomo is pushing a Western agenda, a Western way of thinking, on to developing countries.

    I find particularly troublesome the idea that more funding should be given to assist the employment of young adults instead of education. While I accept the idea that if people are employed then they will be able to send their children to school, they can not currently send their children to school. If those children are not educated, then there will be another generation who struggle to gain employment. Additionally, Ojomo says that he has met dangerous and volatile 25 year olds but he has not met a dangerous 5 year old. While the five year old may not be dangerous now, if he does not receive an education he will quickly become a dangerous and volatile 25 year old.

    While I understand Ojomo’s approach, there needs to be a shift from poverty being seen as a resource problem and instead it needs to be seen as a process problem. But I do not agree with his argument, personally I think there is a Western assumption that prosperity is the answer and that prosperity is what those in developing countries want.

  18. Margaux Soyer 9470827

    It is true that in a sense, if the development practitioners control the way people use their resources, it is in fact a form of governmentality. However, if they do so in order to eradicate poverty, is it necessarily wrong for them to intervene? If they are able to control the way people spend their resources and help them avoid making bad decisions (ex: spending the money on alcohol), this could have positive outcomes in the long run and hopefully, lower the poverty rate in that area. I do believe that instead of just handing these people the resources they need, the development practitioners should also be teaching people how these resources can benefit them in the long term if they are used correctly (ex: starting a small business). This will have more effect than just giving them the resources and hoping for the best.
    Still, I think before just providing the people with the resources and expecting them to use them properly (like the toilets in India), we should firstly analyse the social and financial situations of the communities. In this case, anthropologists are needed in order to properly understand the community and their way of life. Through that, they are able to get insight on what resources the people need and how they plan to use them. Instead of just giving the population toilets and hoping they use it, the Indian government should have analysed the social behaviour of those communities and the reasons why people were not using toilets in the first place. Just because one is provided with a resource does not mean they will change their habits (this would entail a change in culture).
    I think everyone has a different definition of prosperity, depending on their environment, their history and their economic status. Before development projects try to help out communities, they should take into consideration their own definition of the word and see if it matches the one of the community’s. Prosperity in our own society (the Western world) can mean great financial and material success but in other places around the world it could simply mean having the basic needs to survive (food, water, etc). It is wrong to impose our own values and beliefs on communities who do not live and think the same way we do.

  19. Angharad Boddington-Jones

    Too often when attempting to ‘eradicate’ poverty a western framework is utilised in order to develop and improve people’s lives based on Eurocentric ideals which are not compatible with the culture and livelihoods of the people. Therefore Ojomo’s ‘process’ theory provides an interesting alternative to many projects which simply attempt to impose unnecessary resources upon people who do not want them, as can be seen in the example from India. The idea of teaching a population skills rather than just providing them with resources which they either will not use or will eventually run out is imperative here. Ojomo shows how a focus on process will take into account the differing needs of the many populations whose poverty these SDGs are attempting to alleviate which is particularly important in anthropology since the perspective of the people is paramount.
    However since ‘prosperity’ is always subjective, due to different cultural values held across societies, the issue of whether these processes being implemented truly reflect the ideals of the people who are considered to be in poverty can be raised. Are these processes really helping the people or just trying to control them through governmentality? Take both the examples of the toilets in India and the $100 being used to purchase alcohol. In India the people are so reluctant to use the toilets because this is not part of their way of life but the government does not consider this. Whilst the person using $100 to purchase alcohol is choosing to do this because they want to. In both cases we may feel that the actions are not the right ones but the people performing them are exercising their free will. So, although at first it appears to be an attractive method, Ojomo’s theory of process may run the risk of placing a limitation on the people’s right to choose what they want to do under the guise of development or poverty alleviation.

  20. Roisin

    I think that the focus on ‘the process’ is a good path to follow, however the example of alcohol does highlight some of the issues with this focus. Yes, there can be seen to be links to colonialism and governmentality when projects are created by government for the people, however it can also be said to allow for a nationwide push in improving quality of life. Maybe the answer is to be more focused on the process but also have the structure alongside to prevent the resources going towards something that will not improve the quality of life of the individual. Such as the structure for small local businesses to be set up with the resources as well as other avenues to spend this on. I think that a greater emphasis in Development Aid should be about the process while also giving support to those who have now been given a greater choice in their own prosperity. This again needs to be negotiated between both the Aid groups and the people themselves in order to know what they understand as poverty and what they wish for prosperity.

  21. Nicola Dale

    I too see myself agreeing with the article. Providing resources may not be a sufficient way of tackling poverty, if we are providing items that are deemed valuable and wanted in Westernised countries, but not to those they are being given to. I believe by investing into the process, and into a process valuable to a specific group of people, it is more efficient than giving them a resource we would want. It is an example of governmentality as the Indian government are considering paying people to use the toilets, thus attempting to push the people in a certain direction, that suits the governments wants and needs. I think Ojomo’s idea of prosperity is a useful contribution to development work, if the process is used in the right way for the group of people it is being implemented with.

  22. Emma Sandberg (9767492)

    I agree with most of Efosa Ojomo’s criticism of the dominant approach in development to ‘alleviating’ poverty. A shift in focus to the process and the creation of prosperity resonates with anthropological perspectives of attending to communities’ wishes and aiming to empower people instead of ‘alleviating’ their conditions of poverty according to Western standards. The example of attempting to get people to not spend money on alcohol but on potential investments suggests intervention and disciplining of people thus resembling the strategies of governmentality. If such intervention is well-informed by anthropological research, perhaps the fact that it comes from a position of power can be justified as it attempts to serve communities’ interests and eventually lead to their prosperity. This prosperity must further be relative to the communities in which the interventions are made. The notion of prosperity may struggle with similar issues as the failed projects that have attempted to ‘alleviate poverty’, as the understandings of prosperity would most likely vary in different communities. One should be careful to view the Western template of prosperity, that is often thought of in economic terms, as universal.

  23. Chloe Kippax-Chui 9350315

    I think the main issue here is the idea of prosperity, and how this can be an ethnocentric idea. The development agencies are trying to implement strategies that are based on their western ideals of what they believe makes one prosperous, usually economic growth being a large factor. However, the people they are trying to alleviate from poverty might have completely different ideas on what would make them prosperous. Which might pertain to being free in a sense, or even having the basic human needs such as water, food, shelter and safety.

    The article here tackles the idea of targeting processes instead of resources. This is very much linked to the idea of ‘You give a poor man a fish and you feed him for a day. You teach him to fish and you give him an occupation that will feed him for a lifetime’. Its about teaching people to use their given resources in a more useful way, that will help them in the long term. Whereas just providing them with the resources is a very short term solution to the larger issues at hand. This can be linked back to some works done on refugee camps in crisis areas. These are set up as relatively short term establishments, but people end up living their for years because they are provided with a short term solution, but not one for the long term. Such as what will happen to them if they return to their homes. With this being said, some refugee camps do try and help people develop skills that can help them to gain a small short term income, but also as a possible skill for the future.

    Foucault’s theories of governmentality can be seen in this as a way that they are imposing ideologies of the SDG’s. These can have positive and negative impacts. From the positive view point it is a changed view that aims to help people in terms of the processes in their lives, and acts in a sense of agency that aims to help peoples welfare. On the negative side of the argument, they can be trying to implement ideas of prosperity that do not fit with the ideas of those in poverty.

  24. Louise Wright

    The example given of using resources to feed an alcohol addiction rather than to start a small business, while extreme, highlight the problems that have been seen by the MSF (doctors without borders) in Ethiopia. During the famine in 1984, MSF found aid was being manipulated beyond their control, hurting those they had aimed to help. Aiming to avoid such manipulation of aid by creating processes for prosperity rather than aiming to end poverty through providing resources seems to mirror structural ideas seen in governmentality. Therefore, stopping someone from using resources to buy alcohol rather than starting a business is a form of governmentality as the resources are still there, but only to be used in the way determined by the process. The example of alcoholism vs entrepreneurship, along with the experiences of the MSF make Ojomo’s argument convincing, a change in process may help more than the bandage effect of providing resources. However, this draws on the question of what prosperity means to different people and wether a focus on processes rather than resources will lead to the enforcing of western values, morals, and indeed ideas of prosperity on others. This is an interesting ethical problem for aid workers and the SDGs, as they do not want to feed “alcoholism” or it’s analogues but at the same time imposing western ideologies and structures assumes western authority and power which is extremely problematic.

  25. Tuana

    I agree with Ojomo in the sense that the eradication of poverty is not the same as the creation of prosperity. The two outcomes are more reflective of ones own free will, the choice to squander or conserve ones own resources. Arguably Ojomo’s example of the $100 situation implies that poverty is somewhat a choice, as you could have as many resources as are being offered to you, its how you choose to use them that either creates prosperity or perpetuates poverty. On the other hand prosperity and poverty do not necessarily have to have the same definition for all, it is relative. For example the buying of the alcohol could indeed make one feel prosperous if it was what you desired, yet in the opinion of others it could be seen as a waste. This holds value from an anthropological perspective, if we were to consider how various different societies/ cultures perceive what they deem to be prosperous as well as what makes someone impoverished.

  26. Lizzie Vazquez 9214336

    I think the main issue here is how we can come to a definition of prosperity, and how our Western and capitalistic idea of it is somewhat irrelevant to third-world countries. This is simply an attempt to push the same agenda through governmentality. Arguably it the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few which contributes to poverty, and to simply disregard its impact is unhelpful in the process. Yes, whilst in the current system of unequal distribution of wealth, we need to look at how best we can allocate resources to these countries, and also think in terms of cultural relativity. As with the example of the unused toilets in India, perhaps the lack of success is due to naivety and lack of cultural consideration . We cannot simply introduce them where they have traditionally not been used and expect them to be successful without educating people about the benefits of their use and to be patient in the process. So in this sense Ojomo makes a valid point, however I still think the problem stands where simply pouring money into these communities where there is extreme poverty is not enough, regardless of how we use these resources. Arguably, it signals that a radical restructuring of society is necessary if we are truly to achieve equality, which is what the aim of developmental work should be.

  27. Hisako Okuzumi 10067759

    I agree with the idea that just offering resources cannot be solutions for poverty. I also think giving resources and “process” work for each other. In case of toilet/public sanitation in India, practitioner may be possible to have meeting or something for awareness(process). but it cannot be completed without actual facilities(resources). As the text shows, only just providing material did not make any progress.

    Also I wonder what the word “prosperity” means. Personally, the term reminds me of life with basic human needs, expecting something extra. If it means so, one of the first steps for gaining prosperity is going to be excluding poverty. I understand excluding poverty is not the same as creating prosperity, but I do not think practitioner can jump in directly to looking for “prosperity” without solving the poverty issues.

  28. Alicia Rémont Ospina

    The current hegemony around resources as the established answer to tackle poverty is indeed an interesting assumption to question. Providing bare resources often is the easiest and quickest way to answer peoples’ immediate needs, or at least what they seem to be necessitating most urgently. Further, offering some aid by throwing resources, without any accompaniment, training, or capacitation in parallel, still gives governments a good superficial image and kind of alleviates them from the concern of ‘having to help because we need to do it to look good’. However, it is a very short-term solution to tackle poverty and is probably not the most efficient one.
    On the one hand, Ojomo’s nuance between poverty and prosperity can be interpreted in terms of short vs. long term vision and impact. Indeed, he talks about a process, and not only a one-point-in-time solution to a problem. In effect, considering poverty alleviation with a long run vision is crucial. I think that capacitating people, and providing them with tools that they can adapt and incorporate to their everyday habits (as opposed to being forced to assimilate external elements into their cultures) are essential. The later is a process, not a punctual resource.
    Ultimately, this process would enable them to jump from the poverty trap to the prosperity path, by themselves. Nonetheless, this obviously takes more time, and you probably won’t see results during the duration of a presidential mandate, so that a government or any individual governmental agent won’t be directly credited from this accomplishment. This sheds light on the kind of governmentality being followed, its different aspects, and its commitment to actually do good rather than only looking good.
    On the other hand, I also believe that ‘prosperity’ is more promising than a concept such as ‘ending poverty’ because poverty is a kind of label that I find very restrictive and stigmatising. Its definition is arguably biased and based on criteria that one could question. At variance, prosperity is very subjective. Depending on your desires, on your culture, on your age, and on several other potential aspects, the road to reach prosperity can be of different length according to different people. I believe that this adaptive characteristic of ‘prosperity’ is important and very useful.
    Enabling everyone to reach prosperity by considering their environment, their culture, while also thinking critically before engaging in any aid project, is probably more effective than trying to alleviate poverty by assuming that ‘filling the resources gaps’ is enough of a solution to get every poor people out of the poverty trap.

  29. Ilya Cereso

    While I support Ojomo’s questioning of dominant development discourses and practices, especially those of the UN and its SDGs, his argument still feeds into a broader problem in which Western development practitioners produce a single answer to a multiple and complex question. I found his critique of the goal to end poverty interesting, as I have previously seen it as a benignly positive (highly ambitious) target, and his article revealed the problems associated with it. His point that development policies are often implemented without due consideration of other factors affecting their success links to Ferguson’s (1990) argument that development plans in a range of places are similar and put in place by a small network of experts irrespective of context. Thus Ojomo’s examples demonstrate the necessity of having specific policies which are formulated based on knowledge of the context and with the support of other corresponding policies- if the main policy is improving children’s education, their family’s needs to be able to support them, and there needs to be opportunities upon completing education etc. Ultimately, this perhaps demonstrates the necessity for the formulation and implementation of development practices to come from more local institutions.
    However, Ojomo’s discussion of poverty as a ‘process problem’ feeds into a wider portrayal of populations in the Global South as inherently untrustworthy, and in need of direction or even control from above- i.e. Western development institutions, who ‘know best’. Here, Foucault’s governmentality approach can be seen to be utilised on an international level by institutions who want to ensure that people act in a way that is compliant to the global neoliberal system. While governmentality is not always a fundamentally ‘bad’ approach, when it is used by what are arguably neo-colonial bodies which have a history of imposing ‘development’ policies which have had disastrous consequences for the ‘beneficiaries’, it needs to be unpacked and challenged. Moreover, by portraying an oversimplification between choosing to buy alcohol or investing in a small business, not only does Ojomo perpetuate historic ideas of “undeserving poor” who cannot be trusted to make the ‘right’ decision, he also feeds into an idea of development in which all people become small business owners and use microfinance. This conceives of prosperity as the insertion into the neoliberal market. While a focus on prosperity could hold some interesting options, there is a need for a broader conception of what prosperity is as well as a shift away from the positioning of Southern populations as untrustworthy and Northern practitioners as knowing best.

  30. Alexandra Wood 9716787

    Ojomo’s argument for a focus on prosperity rather than poverty is one that I found myself agreeing with. The provision of resources in situations such as natural disasters is certainly crucial in saving and helping people short term, however in cases of areas with a long history of poverty, the provision of resources is only going to help to an extent and arguably will not actually relieve the situation long term. I agree that if individuals were not only given the resources, but also the knowledge of how to use them in the most efficient way, then it would do a great deal more to help the area in need. I feel that key to the promotion of prosperity is education. If the government provided information about using the resources in the most sustainable and productive way then the resources could be used in a process as Ojomo discuses. The influence of the government can be seen as a form of governmentality although it must be noted that the government can only exert influence to an extent, whilst the knowledge can be passed on it does not necessarily confirm that the individuals will follow the advice, for example in the case of the toilets provided in India.
    However I feel it would be wrong to assume a universal method for providing and distributing aid as each individual area is facing varying issues. Therefore the notion to promote prosperity may not fit in each locality as what people understand by prosperity is culturally contextual and we must be careful not to impose western views of a prosperous life onto communities that may have contrasting ideas. It is here that anthropology is a useful discipline as it helps recognise the diversity in cases of poverty and understand the causes behind them.

  31. Paige Cooper 9358728

    I think the issue at stake here is not so much stopping someone from buying alcohol and taking away their freedom to make their own choices – something we see as a universal right. But instead, an issue of encouraging and educating the person to invest the money in something that would benefit themselves long term or at least not harm the individual. There have been multiple methods put into place by the government in the UK, what Foucault would call biopower, which tries, mostly successfully, to help its citizens choose the right path for their personal health and well-being such as laws which disallow the purchase of alcohol after a certain time. Acknowledging that people who buy alcohol late at night are going to binge drink, the government removes the resource (the alcohol shop) at those times and therefore the process (the purchasing of alcohol) cannot continue so the individual will spend their money on other useful things such as food, water, a place to sleep, or even invest in a small business. I therefore see this as a ‘top-down’ way of removing the issue and not only a form of governmentality as the individual is not necessarily choosing to invest in the small business as they would have chosen alcohol first if the option was there. However, as the option is not there and the person has chosen to invest the money into something more beneficial, they must have, to a certain extent, embodied the values of government and society and has chosen an option which leads to the successful reproduction of society and will lead to the idea of living a prosperous life.

    Further, with regards to the idea of what prosperity means to people, we must assume that what people want is happiness, health, stability etc. and concentrate on the means of how we help offer guidance towards that. The example of the toilet is clearly not useful for the situation as we cannot simply expect an individual to change their behaviour overnight and shows an example of the government not necessarily listening to what the people want and instead applying Western ideas of what it means to be prosperous. We are unable to fully control the way in which people choose to live their lives. I understand what Ojomo is arguing about trying to focus on the processes, however to do so risks alleviating an individual of their freedom and not poverty. We can advise and educate individuals on how/where to spend their money, but at the end of the day it has to be their choice. Getting to the route of the issue is perhaps more important such as trying to understand why a man would spend money on alcohol rather than food or shelter. What is he trying to forget? To conclude, I believe that providing access to resources and advising and educating people to utilise them is a better idea of development aid and links closer to Foucault’s idea of governmentality.

  32. Sakira Intrabal

    I agree that new questions must be asked regarding the strategies implemented towards the eradication of poverty. The persistence of poverty across societies indicates a need for change. I think it is interesting to question poverty as simply a ‘resource problem.’ Perhaps it’s because these depravities are merely symbols of poverty, and by tackling these pointers to poverty we are merely eradicating the symptoms as opposed to the underlying structural causes. These structural inequalities are likely to give rise to new forms of social suffering; this is where I agree that an attention to the processes is crucial to create sustainable and long-term change.

    It is relevant to problematise the category of poverty and analyse what this actually constitutes. ‘Poverty’ enables governmentality, as it directs attention towards a specific group of population to engage in biopolitics and be managed. For example, the concept of ‘the poverty line’ carves the population into simply haves and have-nots. Gupta (2012) argues that the category of poverty is debatable as it homogenises the issues experienced across societies, disregarding global distinctions. However, these issues and the experiences have very locally specific and varied characteristics. Therefore, poverty glosses over the complexities and lived realities, which Gupta suggests needs to be addressed in order to effectively create change, there appears a ‘fail[ure] to appreciate the diverse strategies of poverty alleviation [that] may be necessary’ (2012: 159). Due to the taken for granted characteristics of those experiencing poverty; food depravation, lack of education etc, there lacks a diversity of intervention programmes to match the diversity of issues and contexts, which arguably need to be tackled with attention to difference; ‘t]he problem may be global, but intervention needs to be oriented to a local world,’ Kleinman 2000: 235).

    Similarly, in regards to Ojomo’s attention to prosperity, there is the question of what is prosperity: one must define it, in order to achieve it. We must ask how the quality of life is assessed and who defines these boundaries. Here certain values of government have the potential to come into play, for example, by encouraging workfare instead of welfare are NGOs shifting towards a western neoliberal agenda? I argue that perhaps the notion of prosperity offers little as a goal due to its intangibility and lack of defined boundaries in lived reality.

  33. Grace Ludlow 93466520

    As I read this article I find myself agreeing with the need to shift the focus from the alleviation of poverty through the provision of resources, to the processes that create prosperity. But the main theme that I find to be the most important is the underlying issue, that is clearly lacking thus far, the importance of context. The Sustainable Development Goals, for instance that of ensuring water and sanitation to all, and the example given of the toilets in India is a clear indication of this. Before even giving the people the resources that are believed to be what they are lacking, you must understand what has come before and the ways in which these practices form a part of their everyday lives. Additionally, it should be taken into account what prosperity means for the people who are receiving the resources and how this compares to the goals that are to be implemented. From here, development programs can implement resources in a way that fits into the everyday lives of the people, then focus on the processes of the way they use these resources, in order to achieve a kind of prosperity that is important for them.   

  34. Grace Lyons

    Drawing on the idea that if you give a poor man a fish you feed him for a day as opposed to teaching him to fish and thereby feeding him for a lifetime, could perhaps be a better example of a focus on process rather than resources than the alcohol one Ojomo uses. This idea also highlights why there is often a resource focus in aid, as in the example of the toilets in India. Providing resources such as toilets or food means aid agencies are able to show relatively quick and tangible returns on the resource of money which many of their beneficiaries expect. It is interesting to note that the idea of teaching a man to fish is a Chinse proverb. Therefore, a focus on process rather than resources can be seen as a move away from Western discourse surrounding aid. Furthermore, this idea indicates that the concept of governmentality, in this case that it is beneficial to the government for its subjects to be skilled and able to feed themselves, is not exclusively a Western Neo-Liberal concept which it is often linked with.

  35. Sophie Taylor Martin 94221991

    It is frustrating to consider how almost all development projects focus on the alleviation of poverty when in fact this is their most fundamental flaw. Although these approaches (on the whole) come with good intentions, this article proves how these project need to reassess their focus to creating prosperity. Although providing much needed resources for areas in need can help to reduce poverty, it does not provide opportunity for a way out of poverty altogether – which is the ultimate goal. The example used in this article regarding the Indian governments Clean India campaign that provided 60m households by 2019 with a toilet unfortunately failed completely and is even considering paying people to use the toilets as no-one is using them. The idea of pushing for education in the poorest countries can also be questioned considering the majority of youths in these areas are unemployed. As Ojomo considers, these efforts could be more effective in areas of volatile 25-year olds rather than innocent young children. It seems these development projects assume that education for example, that is valued highly in more developed countries can be translated into these areas with the same effect, unfortunately this is not the case. Ojomo argues that rather than focusing on poverty’s resource problem we need to consider it a process problem. It seems anthropologists can play an important role here as their informed and in depth research into different areas and cultures can provide the data and unique requirements that each different area of poverty needs to create prosperity.

  36. Eve Ridyard- 9474078

    For me, this article presents problems that could be more effectively tackled with the insight of anthropological method and approach. An Anthropological approach to aid work could be beneficial here in its ability to analyse specific cultural customs contextually. For example, an anthropologist undergoing aid work would likely consider the heterogeneity of value systems cross-culturally, and pose questions such as: what do these specific peoples, in this specific context, value? This is important as the answer is likely to be vastly different from the pressing needs of the equivalent demographic in Britain, for example. I agree too that the definition of ‘prosperity’ is problematic, a construct that is undeniably culturally specific. Reading this case led me to revisit Torren who has previously explored how value systems are culturally determined and who, through an acute attention to the micro-histories and unique lived experience of the individual, learnt that we all ‘embody the ideas and practice of which [we] appear to be the product’ (Torren, 1999, 20). My point here is that in analysing these histories anthropologically, the appropriate needs of the individual in this specific cultural context can be channelled effectively and according. In future, perhaps less time would be wasted implementing ineffective, unproductive aid resources based on a western perception of prosperity upon people whose value systems prioritises entirely different things. And, perhaps such an approach, in turn, will urge the reevaluation of the decision to implement 60m toilets to a nation who have so far survived without them and who are in fact experiencing/ battling much more detrimental and imminent issues.

  37. Aliaa Shaaban Ibrahim 9474905

    Ojomo’s emphasis on prosperity rather than poverty as means to boost development is an interesting one, since it recognizes the often problematic rhetoric that surrounds the topic of poverty alleviation and development. In my opinion, current development policies aiming for poverty alleviation are futile because they are based on a western-centric, preconceived notion of ‘poverty’, executed in a top-down fashion and is ahistorical and sensationalized. I fear that a similar scenario would occur, but with the idea of creating prosperity instead. Although, I agree that the emphasis on process and people’s actions is a step towards the right direction, self-reflection is necessary before the occurrence of any sort of intervention. Before driving processes, perhaps we should ask ourselves, why is it that we believe these processes will benefit others? How will the stakeholders perceive these processes? In other words, taking a more grassroots approach to implementing these processes, unpacking preconceived ideas about what “prosperity” means, allowing the stakeholders to define such “prosperity” in their own terms, could potentially yield greater results and success when it comes to development projects.
    Intervention in order to influence or ‘improve’ citizen’s behavior, as in the example of alcohol consumption is a form of governmentality. Although I am not entirely opposed to such interventions, I believe that they are in dire need of being transformed and revolutionized and using the grassroots approach I have mentioned above as a starting point.

  38. Ivy Rimmer-Tagoe

    I think I would stop sort of becoming a complete convert to the Ojomo’s argument as I believe no real, sustainable prosperity can be achieved without first focusing on the the deprivation in resources of individuals living in poverty. Investment in infrastructure, education, sanitation and other social programs I believe remains a relevant and vital step for a country’s development and therefore deserves due attention from policy makers.
    Measuring a country’s development purely on prosperity means even some of the ‘most developed’ countries fall short. In a developed UK, the definition of prosperity for policy makers seems to be wealth creation and wholly economic, while striking inequality and child poverty persist. A case by case definition of prosperity that is as distinct as the problems that countries development would be necessary but in order to reflect the realities of economic divisions and other social markers within a society this could mean without the provision of universal resources such as education to alleviate poverty, not everyone has the chance to take part in the author’s prosperity ideal. Moreover, poverty alleviation through universal education has very real gains that may not manifest as economic prosperity that the author seems to seek: “how much value is there in pushing universal education in a poor country where a majority of the youth are unemployed?” such as reduction in child marriage rate and fewer new infections of HIV. Different cultures and countries will define prosperity in different ways and some cultures may not place economic prosperity as the key aim of their social programmes. I think, to some degree, that to focus exclusively on a subjective western ideal of prosperity may result in many of the same problems that the author acknowledges as the downfalls of focusing on poverty namely mainstream development thinking becoming increasingly irrelevant to the developing world.
    If a process is defined as ‘the way people use their resources’, the alcohol example seems a misplaced one and contradicts from the argument that I think the author is initially trying to be make. Suggesting that those individuals living in poverty are not best placed to know their own needs seems strange. I would argue the exact opposite, poor people have a much keener sense of how far a dollar will go than most as they have to be extremely resourceful in order to survive day to day.
    But then I do agree with Ojomo that the trend of defining development down by thinking that the eradication of poverty will be achieved by the introduction toilets or achievement of the dollar a day target will make any goal-orientated, unchecked development unsustainable in the long term.

  39. Lorna Furminger

    I think the article by Efosa Ojomo ties in nicely with the emerging trend which is geared towards communities dictating the terms of their development. Many NGOs no longer send many aid workers overseas, instead they prefer to train local people. However it is not clear whether this addresses the issue raised in the article about the need for development approaches to tackle processes instead of the lack of resources. People people may still be trained to implement the use of given resources instead of having an active say in the processes that may need to be adapted in order to achieve the SDGs set out by the UN.
    I would argue that the article does emphasise an important point about realising and taking into account the context in which people are trying to implement change, as well as the need for a sense of perspective about what change this may cause in the future. I found the point about dangerous 5 year olds very thought provoking, as yes it is important to educate them yet how does that help the community over the next 15 years

  40. Anna

    Ojomo writes that, ‘the eradication of poverty is not the same as the creation of prosperity… The theory that poverty is a resource problem cannot answer both questions. In fact, creating prosperity is a process problem, not a resource problem… A process is the way people use their resources.’

    Immediately, there are several issues with this, including how one defines both poverty and prosperity. I disagree that poverty is simply a problem of resources; instead, in my mind it also includes processes of distribution, management and maintenance of those resources. Arguably, this means that ‘poverty’ could fit into his categorisation of processes of creating ‘prosperity’. This follows onto my next critique, which involves the relational value of prosperity. Quite obviously – and as others have previously commented – people have different notions of prosperity: a life that is prosperous to one may hold the bare minimum to another. To go further, prosperity for some may be material wealth, whilst for others it could be happiness or having the ambition to be successful. As such, this creates problems of governmentality, whereby imposing constructed ‘universal’ values of prosperity upon an individual or community, the danger is that they obscure that individual/community’s own processes for gaining what they deem to be prosperity.

    Structuralist problems

  41. Charlie

    Reading through Ojomo’s article I found myself nodding in agreement with his identification of the issue of development strategy being the attempt to alleviate poverty using resource based push strategies. As his examples in India and Tanzania show, simply providing a resource will not be an effective development strategy; whilst it may result in an alleviation of a specific issue, it will not help in the wider picture of development.
    Instead, Ojomo’s suggestion that creating prosperity through focussing on processes is intuitively appealing. His example of M-Pesa in Kenya showed how focussing on processes and innovation, rather than resources, can be an effective development strategy which benefits both individuals and society as a whole.

    However, i did have concerns with certain areas of the article. I found Ojomo’s example of alcohol to be a poor one, as the two processes suggested are far from the norm. An individual who spends all of their money on on alcohol clearly has a problem. Meanwhile an individual who invests all of their money in a small business, much less that business go on to be a roaring success, is not a normal individual. By using these polar opposites of examples I feel that Ojomo weakened his argument. If he wished to use the theory that governmentality should be used to help everyone to prosper, whilst people maintained freedom of their actions, then it could have been done in a better way. Unlike earlier where it had previously highlighted a benefits for all role, here development strategy hints at a potential control of processes and actions of individuals, which would represent a lack of freedom.
    I also had concerns with Ojomos’s idea of prosperity. With it being such a subjective concept, using it universally in development strategies could have very different effects. On the one hand if prosperity was relative to the specific culture and peoples with which the strategy is intended to help then it could be very successful. On the other hand, if prosperity was measured in the standard western way, i.e. wealth, then it could cause more harm than good for the people it is supposed to help. On top of this the ability of development practitioners, whether they be a countries elite (Government) or foreign, to identify and want to implement what individuals need to prosper is a difficult one.

    My initial response to the article was one of agreement; I found the identification of current faults with development strategy accurate, and the solution of processes persuasive. However upon further inspection I found potential issues with the suggestion, such as who defines what prosperous is and the ethical challenges that could arise from interpreting the theory as one of process control by the Government. In conclusion, I feel that Ojomo has provided a potential solution, though potential pitfalls certainly exist.

  42. Harriet Donaldson

    To focus on the processes rather than the resources is arguably a better way to look at humanitarianism. Simply throwing resources at a situation in the hopes of the problem going away on its own is not suitable for long term effects. Further, to provide aid in times of crisis is one thing, but what happens when that aid is taken away? So it is easy to see that some form of process driven planning would be more helpful as it takes in to account the long term benefits for those in crisis to ensure that they can provide for themselves in the future.
    However, to view humanitarianism that is focussed more upon the processes rather than resources, with the goal of ensuring prosperity, can arguably be seen as a form of governmentally – particularly in cases when the actual concept of ‘prosperity’ is taken out of context. What is considered prosperous for some may not indeed be considered prosperous for others – thus it is important within humanitarianism to focus on the processes guided towards the ‘prosperity’ that are relational to the people who are actually in crisis, rather than our own imposing definitions.

  43. Alice Godfrey 9207108

    Ojomo identifies the failures of current development schemes as a repercussion to resource focused solutions. These schemes stem from defining poverty as a lack of resources and in doing so providing resources is what is thought to alleviate poverty. However, Ojomo uses the example of India’s response to SDG 6 – ‘ensure water and sanitation for all’. The Indian government provided millions of toilets for its citizens and found that many people did not use them. Ojomo argues that instead of these types of resource focused schemes we should treat development as a process problem. In my opinion, this seems to be an obvious way of approaching development projects. The article show’s how governing through the ideas of freedom, like the Indian education schemes, can be problematic. These responses are ignoring the structural issues within Indian society. The main issue I find is with the standardisation of development goals, such as the SDG’s, instead of smaller scale projects. Projects should focus on the sustainable development needs of a particular community.

  44. Husniye Ilhan 9440746

    The issue with a lot of development discourse is that it is highly economised, in that it promotes a capitalist way of life and a society that is inseparable from markets and economic production. This is often seen in programs of poverty eradication; for example, countries that are considered to be underdeveloped are in that state because they are not integrated into global markets and they do not effectively utilise all available modes of production (land, labour and capital). In a way, the goal of global development is one that is not completely benevolent- if these so called underdeveloped countries are integrated into global markets, Western countries are likely to reap benefits of their own.

    Furthermore, the development agenda addresses issues of underdevelopment in a linear fashion, and (paternalistically) prescribes actions for improvement in a way that is ignorant of the individual histories and cultures of countries. This is especially problematic because the lack of development is not necessarily because of the same factors amongst different countries. This, in a way, is what Ojomo is arguing in the article; the eradication of poverty is not the same as the creation of prosperity, and money does not solve issues which are fundamentally structural.

    I most certainly agree with Ojomo’s argument that development requires a focus on fostering processes. This is similar to Dambisa Moyo’s argument presented in her book Dead Aid. Aid practitioners could direct huge amounts of funds into a country, but if it is being used ineffectively (or if the government is corrupt), in a way that is not conducive to long-term development conscious of cultural and historical contexts, there will be no/little benefit to the country. They will ultimately, countries will enter a cycle of aid dependency which is difficult to escape from. Therefore, if the structural issues with development are addressed, clearer goals can be set for each country according to their individual needs/contexts and any improvements will have the potential to be effective in the long-term.

  45. Lydia

    While I agree with the premise of the argument, that giving people resources does not solve all development problems, I find issue with what this would lead to when applied to aid work. If we become concerned with processes rather than resources, aid workers take on a more colonial stance of telling people how to live their lives and what they can and can’t do with their own resources. This would centre around a Eurocentric idea of good processes with little context given to countries specific cultures or societies.

  46. Alexandra McIntosh

    I agree that the obsession with poverty alleviation in development is flawed as this is concentrated within smaller structures of resource management without thinking of the wider processes at work. Focusing on the example of education in the article, I would agree that education in poor countries can not be ultimately solved by additional resources as this has proved ineffective. I would agree with Ojomo that adapting processes could prove a better solution. Specifically in this situation, building a capacity for a better education within a localised framework. Additionally the documentary shown in last weeks lecture ‘born into brothels’ demonstrates how more resources and educational opportunities doesn’t necessarily lead to poverty alleviation. The cultural processes limiting education in Calcutta were less to do with access to resources and more to do with the pressures of family life.

  47. Hermione Francis

    I agree with Ojomo’s comments and argument for a shift in think about poverty and prosperity. In my view it has always seem that humanitarianism sees these two terms as two sides of the same coin. Furthermore, repeating Ojomo, with the alleviation of poverty there is an assumption that prosperity naturally emerges.

    This article reminds me of a small example used in a feature documentary I watched called ‘The Four Horsemen’. Within this documentary, we shown how affected villages and towns in the Middle East have been since bombings from the USA. In turn we see development and aid programmes and construction companies attempting to rebuild the infrastructure to restore ‘normal’ live, after this tragedy. A main aim of rebuilding the town from the developers, was to help create more jobs to those affected. Yet many of the civilians were either underqualified or were generally apathetic to this. This engages with the notion that stability, success and prosperity is not necessarily a product or end result of attempted poverty alleviation.

    It will be interesting to see whether Ojomo’s comments resonate within this field of study and practice.

  48. Callum Connor 8995976

    Primarily there lies an issue in the lack of a clear grasp of the concept of prosperity, which is essential in anthropological study and subsequent application to wider cultures and socio-economic systems. In terms of the notion that we should shift focus towards prosperity rather than poverty put forward by Ojomo, my initial impression of this approach is that although the example of alcohol does not have any processual relevance to humanitarianism and its credibility as a comparative tool applied to aid work is debatable, the central focus on focusing on peoples actions and processes rather resources is the most suitable school of though within humanitarianism, congruent with numerous anthropological publications. Simply throwing resources as a naively rudimentary solution to complex sociological ‘problems’ has demonstrated no long term efficacy , substantiated by the rather unsavoury relationship between the Indian government and sanitary issues, and the ‘born into brothels’ documentary, suggesting that we should focus on fostering processes instead. Having said this, ‘processes’ is an extremely vague term and the specific methods of undertaking this would heavily depends on factors including; culture, SDGs, geographical location and methods of aid.

  49. Iona Francesca Walker

    I think it is important to acknowledge that power processes such as governmentality exist and that we should investigate and challenge the effect that they have on our world. However, we should also acknowledge that these processes of power are emergent, we have the ability to shape them but ultimately they do form the background to almost all the decisions we make, especially in the world of ‘doing good’.

    I think that teaching people strategies to manage resources would be more helpful than the resources themselves. Imagine winning the lottery. what do you do with all that money? Would you know what to do? would you be better off in five years time than if you hadnt won? Often people do not have the adequate strategies to deal with events such as this, so the national lottery provides counselling to help recipients deal with the arrival of so much wealth and avoid it tearing their world apart. I feel this is applicable to the aid situation. Working within our processes but challenging them is a good place to start, as well as thoughtful allocation of resources that leads to people being able to take control of their own lives.

  50. Julian Wong

    I found myself completely agreeing with Ojomo’s main argument of how western aid institutions are obsessed with ending poverty, due to the empirical nature of calculating poverty, in which they can publish how successful they are at improving people’s lives, instead of aiding the internal development process of the local regions.
    However, with such focus on the process of achieving prosperity, Ojomo seemed to overlook education as the main driving force of prosperity. I believe that basic education is the very reason people will create innovations which would improve their lives. For example Duflo’s study on the INPRES primary school building project showed increased in years of schooling and wages earned across Indonesia, so how could one doubt the positive externalities of basic education (in most cases, the ones Ojomo pointed out were extreme cases due to cultural differences)
    The truth is, many of these institutions are short sighted and education is a long dynamic process. This process is the very component that creates better resource utilization and management, even though it could take 20 years for the empirical data to show the effects of implementing basic education.