Challenges to Non Western Development Planning
As the world continues to become a global village, new and more complex challenges continue to come up calling for equally new and complex solutions. The need for a developed world continues to offer challenges each passing day as new revelations show short comings in the specified strategies to combat the drawbacks to the effort of equal global development. One of the deep rooted problems that have proved very elusive to combat has been poverty. Its changing faces and slippery nature has proved difficult for the stake holders to come up with a single formula which will help in the process of eradicating the global cancer.
Different institutions and agencies have stressed on the importance of tackling this issue so as to achieve equality in the global development process. This has therefore called for a long term goals which will not only curb the current problems but also sustain the solutions far into the future. As Johnson (2001) puts it, while we try to solve the current problems, we should ensure that all our efforts concerning sustainable development and poverty alleviation are long-term and the, “…
benefits from economic growth do preserve the capacity of physical, ecological, and economic systems to carry such improvements far into the future. ” With the World Bank estimating an increase of two billion people in the global population, 60% of them being estimated to be city dwellers, it is obvious that the need for infrastructure and energy needs will grow (Johnson 2001). As the current estimation indicates, the developing countries experience a triple in the energy demand after every 18 years.
In addition, the population growth indicates that the need for food will double in the next two to four decades. Furthermore, the increasing population will carry with it challenges in the provision of safe water, health services, political and social political setup as the world shrinks with the boundaries becoming more and more porous. All these challenges need to be carefully considered so as to ensure that our children and their children do not inherit a polluted world that cannot be repaired. This calls for planning. On its part, planning has encountered several challenges since long time ago.
Some critiques have cited all the processes and efforts to plan as white elephants, ineffective and worst of all destructive (Dale 2005). This called for some of the critiques to come up with alternative strategies which they referred to as alternative development. In their approach, the advocators of the program called for a change of approach from public involvement to voluntary and Non governmental players. With the same weaknesses being realized in the alternative, they eventually came up with the third way out which was the alternatives to development. What defines development planning?
Dale (2005) identifies five types of planning. These include, physical development planning, economic planning, policy analysis and planning, collaborative planning and interpretative planning. As Dale outlines, the five planning types can sometimes be intertwined except that two clear definitions can be identified. In his argument, economic, and physical development planning and some parts of policy analysis could be categorized under subject matter which includes things like the systems of the product and its relationships, networks of communication, centre structure and its administrative structures and laws.
The other two types of development planning and the remaining part of policy analysis involves the processes and mechanisms of planning. This is how the process of planning is to be done within the context of the institution. One important argument that Dale pinpoints is the importance of the recognition of the unique and specific contextual complexities of each planning process. It is therefore important that the paradigms of social science are considered before coming up with a specific plan for a specific place.
In summary, Dale (2005) advocates for a strategic planning that is normative and puts into consideration the end of the plan by analyzing the appropriate means and finally it should be sensitive to institutional involvement and also organizational involvement. Basing on Dale’s arguments, it is therefore important that that one puts into consideration all the aspects of a society before coming up with a solution for its sustainable development. This means that a solution developed for a given region can fail to be effective in another region based on the diversity of their values, cultures, economic and political differences.
This therefore means that proves that Western strategies of sustainable development are very likely to fail in other parts of the world that do not embrace the western cultures. In addition, it means that a Westerner who engages in development planning for a non Westerner will be forced to understand the political, economic, cultural and physical aspects of the region before making his strategic plans. This marks the first challenge in the Non Western views of development and development planning. Development Planning Challenges Most of the Western countries have had ideologies and attitudes formulated for planners.
These attitudes that are imparted in the upcoming planners for the developing countries have been basically theoretical and failed to hold water when it came to their practicability. Students in the universities have been imparted with theoretical knowledge on development planning using methods that would result into getting the possible highest returns from the minimum and scarce resources available. Among the most common methods available have been econometric model-building which is based on the linear or the curvilinear programming.
Other techniques imparted include operations research, the theory of games and the simulation technique. According to Waterston, these theories have worked positively to some planners but have failed to work for developing countries (Waterston 2006). One of the major challenges in the development planning for Non Western Countries has been the issue of balancing the environmental needs and social needs of the community. In the 1950’s, the best way to solve the problems of exploding population was through provision of an alternative that would give food to them.
This led to the formation of the frontier economic model. In this model, local communities used their resources until they became completely exhausted. After the exhaustion, they moved to other new resources so as to use it until it is also depleted (Karan 2004). Under this paradigm, the earth was taken as a form of natural resource that would never be depleted and that it would survive and continue providing more and more resources. It was also believed that wastes dumped into the earth would automatically be dealt with.
The main agenda was the provision of enough food and money for the local people and other stakeholders. In India, Egypt and China, large irrigation schemes were started oblivious of the environmental degradation that the cutting of forests to come up with irrigation land caused on the environment. Among the major projects that were identified to have had major ecological effects were the Narmada River Development Project of India and the Three Gorges Project in China. The main drive of these projects was to ensure the survival of these growing populations.
Later, the environmental repercussions of these projects started to get noticed. This called for other approaches that could not have detrimental effects to the environment. This marked the birth of the deep ecology philosophy. Unlike the other approach to development, this one was friendlier to the environment. The major approach to this method was based on the ethics of the environment instead of the money and commercial aspect like its predecessor. In this approach, the stakeholders made an effort to ensure a symbiotic coexistence between the environment and the socioeconomic activities of the local communities.
It considered their social, spiritual and ethical aspects as opposed to the former approach. This marked a new challenge to the development planners. Coming up with a formula that would help to sustain the ever increasing population in a friendly and symbiotic way was considered completely impractible. This is attributed to the level of degradation that is being experienced in the non western regions. This challenge calls for an extremely intelligence approach that will strike the balance without causing any effects on any of the two sides (Karan 2004).
The integration of different policies that help in the development strategizing poses another challenge that development planning must put in consideration. One of the greatest of these policies is the population control policies (Karan 2004). One of the greatest causes of poverty in the non western countries has been the rapid population growth. As the population continues to grow, the natural resources continue experiencing more pressure and thus depleting at a rapid rate. This continues to immerse the non westerners into poverty.
Apart from causing poverty, the rapid population growth leads to degradation of the environment. It is therefore important that development planning comes up with a formula that will be in position to integrate the population control policies with the development strategies and the policies aimed at conserving the environment. To a non westerner, it is very essential for them to put into consideration these differences so as to ensure that their development strategies do not fail to work as has been the case in the yester years. Poverty is another great challenge that must be considered in the non Western world.
According to Karan, the implementation of appropriate measures to poverty can easily result into a sustained GDP increase (Karan 2004). The program that should be implemented includes subsidies on food, fertilizers and provision of credit that is subsidized can be ways through which a planning program can achieve its objectives. In addition to these direct aid programs, there are other programs that include creation of irrigation projects, starting of projects that will create employment, and encouragement of income generating projects will also be very important in the ensuring of a sustained increase in GDP of several non Western countries.
Due to their over dependence on agriculture, the link between their poverty levels could clearly be associated to poor agricultural programs. The greatest challenges hear that development planning experiences are the ill planned programs which eventually fail to serve the desired purpose. For example, most of their programs are top down and therefore depend mostly on the governmental bureaucracy before the desired help reaches the poor people on the ground.
As a result, the real needs of the people fail to be addressed as the government fails to understand the real dimensions of the problem and hence coming up with plans that are not very endowed to the situation at hand and hence resulting into inefficient programs full of leakages. In terms of poverty alleviation, most of the income creation projects fail to put into consideration the resource availability of the place and therefore ending up with activities that are ill suited to the place marred with poor implementation strategies.
Furthermore, many of the programs organized for rural people mostly find themselves in the hands of the well of rural folks and therefore sidelining the poor rural people from benefiting. What do the above challenges in the non Western countries contribute in the understanding of development and development planning for Westerners? With an environment like the above mentioned, it needs come up with approaches that will assist the real poor from the rural areas access the programs.
This can only be achieved if the policies formulated are endowed with the relevant natural resources within the given area. In addition, the activities designed for a program of income creation activities should be real and consider the regional advantage of the area and hence coming up with realistic implementation strategies. Unfortunately, achieving the above is quite difficult owing to the fact that there exist several challenges. These challenges do not only affect the formulation but also the implementation of the projects.
The most common problems include the remuneration and operational funds due to the poverty and corruption levels of the officials, patronage when it comes to promoting and posting exercises, too much centralization which results to bureaucracy, barriers which result from attitude and communication making the farmers who are the poor have no access to the public servants (Karan 2004). The above challenges therefore show that the difference in values and attitudes could be very detrimental to the understanding and formulation and also implementation of development strategies.
To understand development planning, one therefore has to base his evaluation within the contextual framework of the region in mind. The political environment of a country plays a very important role in its development plans. In fact, (Waterston 2006) identifies that most of the planning woes that have been experienced in Africa have not been rooted in economic disadvantages but in their political and administrative weaknesses. With political environment playing such a role, the mastery of all the economic based approaches will always find impediments.
This means that political woes in the non western countries are among the greatest challenges which must be put into consideration when understanding development and development planning. Initially, socialized countries had laid more emphasis on the centralized systems in all their plan formulations and execution. Later, Yugoslavia did away with the system and started the decentralized system which proved to be working. This caused most of the countries to try the method. Despite the slow reception, the system eventually came to be accepted.
While the different approaches gained opposition from the opposing sides, more and more refining was taking place until eventually new techniques were developed to encourage planning basing on each country’s needs. As outlined above, each country usually calls for specific strategies according to the established needs. Unfortunately, it is not only the development needs but as Waterston (2006) puts it, “…the methods used to formulate and implement plans are closely conditioned by a country’s political, economic and social values and institutions and its stage of development.
” Due to this, the greatest impediment in the implementation of policies is therefore centered on the government policies. To this extend, planners have come to realize that saving a sinking development plan strategy does not entail addition of monetary support but the coming up with suitable policies and measures by the government. To have a clear development plan, the ultimate focus should not be rooted in the theory. Instead, the environment under which the theory is to be applied should be considered greatly.
These include the government policies and the political arena. This means that politics play an important role in development planning. The differing political values must be given priority when a westerner is developing plans for a non western country. This is because, the overall success and efficiency of a strategy does not dwell solely on the theoretic formula and the available funding but also on the political atmosphere of the country.
The relationship within political stability and institutional stability are so close. Failure in political status of a country will always translate into failed political and economic institutions. Unfortunately, these institutions play an important role in the efficiency of a development strategy. As Acemoglu and put it, success will only be defined and assured through the understanding of the right instruments that are appropriate in the sustaining of equilibrium on the political scene.
Owing to the direct relationship between the political system, the institutions and economic development, it is therefore doubtless that a good development plan must put into consideration these factors (UN University 2009). But what are the challenges to a non western planner in such a climate? While one will be armed with appropriate economic theory, the theory is bound to fail unless he integrates it properly with the political and institutional systems of the given country. Unfortunately, according to Acemoglu and, the ultimate forces that lead to a good or bad political structure have not been identified so far.
This will remain a great challenge because without a proper political equilibrium, the chances of development remain minimal. A good proof of the role of political and institutional structures to the rate of development is the current economic development of China which occurred since 1978 when the political system attained equilibrium through the taking of power by people who were ready for reforms in the institutional set up (Acemoglu & Robinson 2008). Spatial dimensions form a very crucial factor in development planning.
Through study, a relationship between urban centers and country sides that promote mutual benefit has been cited among the greatest contributors in the field of development. A well balanced spatial system leads to a commercialization of agriculture. In addition, it enables resources from the rural areas to gain access to other regions both rural and urban for a fair distribution. Furthermore, a well balanced spatial system encourages and enhances an efficient way of producing and exchanging within the national economy.
It was here that agencies discovered that the only way to ameliorate poverty, enhance integration of marginalized areas and the incorporation of the many small groups within an economy into one single economy was through balancing the spatial pattern of the country’s development (UN University 2009). What then are the challenges faced by planners within this spatial systems of development? The greatest challenge that one experiences is the unbalanced spatial system of development. In Asia for example, definite systems of spatial linkages have not emerged.
Different regions performing different important roles of development have not been linked thus translating into inefficient exchange and production of goods. This causes major challenges in outlining a strategy because the process of implementation will be hindered by the lack of communication networks within the relevant regions. The imbalance in spatial system also causes overdependence on one resource which is much accessible and thus leads to degradation. Among the countries that have exhibited imbalance in spatial systems are Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand.
In these countries, the infrastructural and production investments were concentrated in a single major region thus resulting into a metropolitan city that overshadows the entire economy (UN University 2009). This system of development therefore offers challenges on a development planner because he has to be ready to face the limitations. For example, spatial systems with high polarization have their market centers highly scattered with poor provision of services their poorly equipped nature.
In such systems, marketing networks which could serve as facilitators of economic integration fail to emerge due to the poor linkage networks between small cities and markets. These are challenges that have to be put into consideration when formulating development plans for non Western regions UN University 2009). In their study, IDRC (2009) identify among the most recurrent problem in the field of development planning as the situational diversity in the different developing countries.
In the study, the use of a standard model to give advice and to interpret development plans has posed one of the greatest challenges so far. The heterogeneity of the diverse cultures and contextual situation therefore has called upon the stakeholders to put into consideration the challenge and come up with policies that are specifically oriented. Initially, the financial institutions had been accused of imposing rigid and inflexible conditions for a country to be accessible to their resource base. These conditions never put into consideration the different conditions under which the different countries operated.
This means that the stakeholders face an increasing challenge of understanding the political, economic and social aspect before coming up with policies that will eventually help in planning for sustainable development. Another challenge that results from non western values in the understanding of development and development planning lies in the issue of communication. Obotetukudo (2009) argues that by globalization of Western values, these countries do not contribute to development instead, they contribute to underdevelopment.
In his argument, he purports that for a good development strategy, Africa needs policies that are rooted in African philosophy and which are based on what Africans understand who they are under their traditions. By understanding these position of African thinking and understanding of themselves. African development does not receive an answer from the Western media coverage which fails to come up with the real needs for the African society leading to a one way communication which does not embrace the African perspective.
In such a condition, communication tends to flow in a single direction. This leads to alienation which does not contribute to development. As a solution to this, Obotetukudo identifies the only solution to development for Africa as understanding their real self, their cultures and personality as the greatest weapon to development in Africa. This poses a great challenge to the understanding of development and development planning.
With such recognizable differences, the conclusion remains that it is very difficult for planners from Western regions or from Non Western regions but who have had their university education from the West to come completely armed with their theories and expect to apply them in these regions without meeting challenges. As Waterston puts it the theories can really be good and functional unfortunately the failure to achieve the desired aim my not be as a result of their ill formation but a result of poor implementation due other factors that have been mentioned in the paper.
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