Keeping people at the center of developmentAn approach for ethical development to fight poverty in third world countriesAkosua Adjei-Pokuaa-Bielefeld University
Ethics and Development-Prof Dr Sagar Sharma
Keeping people at the center of developmentAn approach for ethical development to fight poverty in third world countriesAkosua Adjei-Pokuaa-Bielefeld University
Ethics and Development-Prof Dr Sagar Sharma
Table of Contents
Theories of poverty………………………………………………………………………6-9
Theory of human development……………………………………………..9-10
Human development and UNDP……………………………………………11
Capabilities Approach and Freedom………………………………………..12-13
Definition of Human Development…………………………………………..14
World Bank and Human Capital Project………………………………….14-17
Ghana and Its periods of development (Ghana beyond Aid agenda)…………………………………………………………………….18-21
Over the years, development for developing countries as beneficiaries has mostly relegated the role of the people themselves to passive instead of active agents. In his paper, Astroulakis wrote that for development ethicists, international development is not just about growth but the qualitative aspect of well being. Growth is one index that is mostly used to measure development projects worldwide like the World bank development report. These indexs do not fully encapsulate the well being of the group understudy. As the study of development ethics started in the 20th century by Lousi Joseph Lebret, it gave another dimension to understanding what policies to implement to aid developing countries and the quality thereof and to evaluate these aids on through an ethical len. So, then what is developmet ethics, what is ethics, how do different people define development across different geographical, social,cultural,and eonomic locations. Does it mean the same thing to everyone?
Development ethics, Development , Ethics
According to IDEA, International development ethics is ethical reflection on the ends and means of local, national and global development. Ethical considerations are often seen as separable from ‘pragmatic’ economic or strategic considerations in the allocation of development assistance (Loosely,1994). The goal-oriented nature of development assistance means that choices are involved, and values inevitably come into play. The current media and information revolution have widened the number and scope of actors contributing to aid discussions, further increasing the prominence of ethical and moral considerations in decision making. (Loosely,1994). The consideration of ethics as a major tool for development cannot be overlooked or ignored. The rationale for attention to development ethics is that processes of social, political, economic and environmental development bring both enormous opportunities and enormous threats for humankind, individually and collectively, and that the associated benefits and costs are highly unequally and unfairly distributed. (Gasper,2011). From his article, Gasper(2011) argued that the gains of one group bothered on the suffering of another. Example include displacing people from their homes to build a tourist park with the intention of attracting tourists for the country. Meanwhile, the people displaced are citizens of the country and need to have a place but then for the government, it is smaller good sacrifice for the greater good. This is where ethics comes to play, are they thinking about the people who make up the country, where they will sleep, access to health care, education and other basic amenities. Development ethics borrows freely from the work of economists, political scientists, planners, agronomists, and specialists of other disciplines. Ethics places each discipline’s concept of development in a broad evaluative framework wherein development ultimately means the quality of life and the progress of societies toward values expressed in various cultures. (Goulet 1996). Development ethics are defined as how human rights, basic needs and social justice are met with the process and outcome of a development. Goulet’s: the examination of ‘ethical and value questions posed by development theory, planning, and practice’. Its mission is “to diagnose value conflicts, to assess policies (actual and possible), and to validate or refute valuations placed on development performance (Goulet, 1997: 1168).
Development means different things for different people. Coming from a country in the global south, I see development to be good buildings, access to food and water, quality education, and general wellbeing. For another person from the same country, I come from, development is money in his pockets, the government can have the best of policies, undertake projects and get aids but if it does not translate as money in his pocket, it is nothing. For a civil worker in the same country, development is job security and even though the government receives bailouts to help the country, it should not be at his detriment. Development in the eyes of donor countries, NGOs, international organization means an entirely different thing in terms of lack and they can offer the best help. Goulet argued that success in development depends most critically on a society’s own efforts to change its policies, social structure, institutions, and values. He goes on further to state that to people whose physical circumstances are vastly more comfortable than those experienced by their families one or two generations ago, development stands for access to ever more diversified consumer goods. To the billion people who continue to live in extreme poverty much like what their forebears knew at the turn of the century, development is the modest hope of gaining a secure supply of food and drinking water, adequate shelter, and access to rudimentary health services. It is believed that development is synonymous with the West and characterized by industrialization as they were the first to industrialize. (Goulet,1996). Things are changing in the new era of development, developing countries are looking at it from a more value point of view of not losing their cultural identity of who they are as a people and taking on the values and cultures of the west. In the face of imported values and practices, and the pursuit of development in a self-reliant endogenous manner. Self-reliance is neither autarchy nor self-sufficiency. Self-reliance means that basic decisions about the speed and direction of change must come from within poor nations and in accord with their traditions—not in blind imitation of practices and policies in Western industrial nations (Goulet 1996). An example is the current “trade war” between the US and Rwanda concerning Rwanda banning importation of used clothing from the US to boost local textile industries. Petitioners of the US Smart Association believe it is not in the best interest of both parties because as a member of AGOA, trade barriers are supposed to be eliminated to help promote economic growth and eliminate poverty. The question is in the context of development who decides who decides who needs what and the means to achieve the desired goals. This is a clear example of developing countries now being able to determine what they want to receive from the “developed countries”. Development has now moved from the point of technical examination of amassing goods by people to enhance growth. Per explanation’s in Goulet’s paper in 1996, development is a question of values, human attitudes and preferences, self-defined goals, and criteria for determining what tolerable costs are to be borne in the course of change. This is where the theory of ethics comes to play a role. He further argued that ethical judgements regarding the good life, the good society, and the quality of relations among people always serve, directly or indirectly, as operational criteria for development planners and as guidelines for researchers. Not all ethics is considered for the planners, but even for the receiver’s too, they must be able to determine what their idea of “well-being” means. What they believe they ought to have. Considering respondent views from Ghana on development priorities, there was a shared view of economic inclusion to reduce poverty. The ethical perspective proposed by the writers of this article was the principle of social arrangements and institutions to harness happiness and also the principle of fairness and then the moral principle of helping everyone to get to a certain threshold. (Barrientos et al,2016). Goulet in his book, The Cruel Choice talks about vulnerability of the weak, in that when a leader of a developing wishes to grow his country by the efforts of the country, they are faced with the challenge of “who” determines the transfer of wealth and technology. This is basically an ethical issue in development. He states that mostly low-income countries prefer “bread and dignity” but it is mostly just “bread”. In conclusion of the role of ethics in development, it is a perspective that enhances evaluation of policies, aids and agendas in development, it goes a long way to also ensure good judgement in decision making for development planners. Every society must feel that its values are worthy of respect if it is to embark on an uncertain future with confidence in its own ability to control that future. (Goulet,1971).
In the next sections, I will discuss the concept of poverty, how human development theory explains poverty and its role for ethics of development and the use of the capability approach and the work of development as freedom by Amartya Sen.
Poverty has always been linked with the idea of lack of income, which is a very old ideology. The explanation of the fact that income plays a major role on the kind of life we can live. Poverty cannot only be seen in terms of lowness of income and nothing else but in terms of poor living. Income is one of the many influences on the kind of life people can lead. Poverty should then not be based on just depleted pockets but the quality of life. In the Aristotelian perspective, an impoverished life is one without the freedom to undertake important activities that a person has reason to choose. Adam Smith too felt impelled to define “necessaries” in terms of their effects on the freedom to live non-impoverished lives (such as “the ability to appear in public without shame”). (Sen,2000). Sen further argues that social exclusion is another aspect of poverty that is often overlooked. Poverty I believe entails the entire life of a person, anything that prevents a person from being the total self is poverty.
Theories of Poverty
There are various theories used to explain poverty, but I will discuss just one of them and give short briefings of the others as this one is the main theoretical dimension of my paper.
Among the many theories of poverty which are mostly referred to as economic theories of poverty is classical traditions who believe that the individual is entirely responsible for his or her destiny. In this theory, it began in the 18th and 19th centuries. It basically looks at value and distribution where value involves the cost involved in production while distribution involves flow of payment using original agricultural terms (landlord received rent, workers received wages, and a capitalist tenant farmer received profits on their investment). In this vein, there is no external forces driving the flow. Basically, classical theorists view poverty because of poor choices of individuals (economic choices). In that, for a person’s wages they receive is based on the person’s productivity. Under this theory, there is the decision-based theory and the sub-culture theory. The decision-based theory thus is the understanding of the issue of poverty revolving around the belief that the poor self-select into deprivation, which is not the result of market failure, but, rather, the result of shortcomings in their own effort and capabilities. (Townsend, 1979). it is believed that individuals themselves play an active part in influencing their outcomes, with little to no role for the social and/or political environment surrounding them. The crucial underlying premise is thus that, although other options are available, they still make choices that limit their access to economic resources, thereby raising their risk of ending up in poverty16 (Blank, 2010). For sub-culture theory, theories of intergenerational poverty claim that behavioral preferences highlighted in classical theories are passed across generations within dynastic families, due either to a genetic component or upbringing. Hence, “poverty begets poverty” as children growing up in dysfunctional families feed from the deviant behavior of their progenitors, who act as role models (Blank, 2010). Contributions arising from this perspective assert that the intergenerational transmission of attitudes relating to poverty can be perpetuated via a persisting “culture of poverty” may help poor families cope with low economic means. This theory focuses on the individual and his choices as well as family influence. Thus, showing that, poverty is a cycle.
Secondly is the Neoclassical theory who believe that poverty goes beyond the individual. External factors come to play like social, private, market barriers, health barriers, immigration status and others. In this theory, there is the money approach (income and consumption), assets and financial risk (inability to acquire private assets, social assets, and economically valuable assets), incentives, market failures which limits poor people from accessing credit facilities. neoclassical theory stresses the role of the unequal initial endowments of talents, skills, and capital which determine the productivity of an individual in generating poverty, within a market-based competitive economic system. Market failures such as externalities, moral hazard and adverse selection as well as incomplete information are also viewed as aggravators of poverty (Davis, 2007)22. Uncertainty may play a major role in causing poverty because the poor are more vulnerable to shocks to their well-being (e.g. recessions, sickness, family breakdown).
Neoliberal theory stresses the role of government to come to the aid of people at the macrolevel in terms of fiscal and monetary policies. poverty is mainly explained by “the misfortune of certain minorities who fall out of work, cannot work or are not expected to”, although they wish to do so, it, therefore, follows that the state needs to act to “regulate, supplement and exhort, but not impose” (Townsend, 1979).
On the other side is Marxist/Radical theorists who believe that capitalism, related social, and political factors based on class division causes poverty. These school of thought believes that capitalist societies keep the cost of labor unnaturally and in this bid, there must be strict rules to regulate the market economy. They believe that poverty is caused by structural factors, stratified labor market, prejudice, and corruption. In a bid to alleviate poverty, these barriers must be lifted. The concept of the social class represents the basic unit of analysis and it is thus a central
element of radical theory. Class division and the relative distribution among classes within society are postulated as the ultimate determinants of the distribution of individual income, for members of different classes are believed to have unequal opportunities to access the fundamental precursors of marginal productivity such as complementary capital and social resources.
Social exclusion and social capital are also another school of thought on poverty. Amartya Sen in his paper on Social exclusion believed that being excluded from social relations can spurn on to exclusion from other opportunities that enhance our living opportunities. (Sen,2000). Durlauf and Fafchamps (2005) suggest the following definition: “social capital involves network-based processes that generate beneficial (economic) outcomes through norms and trust”. Jefferson (2012) argues that those exposed to negative social relations are likely to become poor. In this vein, your access to social relations determines the amount of capital you have socially and determines whether you are included or excluded. Many poor people are excluded sometimes from the national cake because of the social capital, that is where they find themselves geographically, the kind of information they are fed with or even exposed to, and others. Sen puts it beautifully by saying that social relations under the theme of social exclusion can be of constitutive relevance (not being able to interact with members of the community) or instrumental relevance (missing on big opportunities due to lack of access to credit markets). (Sen,2000).
Theory of Human development
Finally, I move onto the theory of human development which places people at the center of it all. In this theory, it is about enhancing the general well being of the individual in a multidimensional way. Human development theory started in the era of the 1990’s when Mahbub ul Haq realized that GNP cannot be the sole indicator of growth and development. This was something he realized based on his experience from Pakistan when even though there had been a substantive increase in growth in the GNP of Pakistan, unemployment rates had gone up, incomes inequalities persisted and even doubled between east and west Pakistan.(Haq,2011). Haq himself said, “we do know that the rate of growth, as measured by the increase in GNP, has been fairly respectable in the 1960s, especially by historical standards. We also know that some developing countries have achieved a fairly high rate of growth over a sustained period. But has it made a dent in the problems of (mass) poverty? Has it resulted in a reduction in the worst forms of poverty – malnutrition, disease, illiteracy, shelter less population, squalid housing? (Haq 2011). It was through this experiences and realization that birthed the human development report by the UNDP as he worked with them. It was later Amartya Sen his friend helped shape the concept and underlying theory.
Human development theory ascertains that people are not just beneficiaries but very active participants in development process. In this theory, it is about the widening of choices, capabilities, functions and freedoms. The ability to live life to the fullest and maximize all available resources without restrictions and barriers. So, when there is the opposite of all these things, then poverty arises. In this theory, development is expansion of the what the people value. Drawing from the human development report by the UNDP in 1990, it gives a very substantive definition of what human development is about in their report. This is written as, “Human development is a process of enlarging people’s choices. The most critical of these wide-ranging choices are to live along and healthy life, to be educated and to have access to resources needed for a decent standard of living. Additional choices include political freedom, guaranteed human rights and personal self-respect.” (UNDP,1990). It goes further to state that, “Development enables people to have these choices. No one can guarantee human happiness, and the choices people make are their own concern. But the process of development should at least create a conducive environment for people, individually and collectively, to develop their full potential and to have a reasonable chance of leading productive and creative lives in accord with their needs and interests.” (UNDP,1990). Looking at this writing, at the helm of affairs concerning development is about creating an atmosphere for choices to enable humans pursue what they value as worth pursuing. This is nothing more than an ethical issue rather than just pure economics of wealth or income expansion. “The expansion of output and wealth is only a means. The end of development must be human well-being. (Alkire,2010). From this definition, there is the concept of freedom, Sen (1999) talks about the different freedoms that are inter connected such as political freedom and quality of life, economic freedom and social living (the freedom to participate in economic interchange has a basic role in social living).
Human Development and the UNDP
Over the years, the human development report’s definition for human development has changed but not substantively. (1990-2010). In 1991, human development was further said to be, “It has to be development of the people, by the people, for the people.” In 2001, the report sort of reiterated the 1990 definition as “Human development…is about creating an environment in which people can develop their full potential and lead productive, creative lives in accord with their needs and interests. People are the real wealth of nations. Development is thus about expanding the choices people have to lead lives that they value.” In 2002, there was another concept which was added which is “agency”. Alkire,2010 wrote that, in the 2002 report, it brought about the role of people not just beneficiaries but also as active agents in economic and social progress for themselves and others. In all the reports from 1990-2009, the underlying theme was enlarging or expanding people’s choices (freedoms, capabilities) even though they were stated sometimes in a different way. The basic possible dimension of these reports has been on, “Health and Life Education Decent Standard of Living Political Freedom & Process Freedoms Creativity and Productivity Environment Social & relational Culture & Arts. (Alikre,2010). In Amartya Sen work in 2004, he talked about the fact that the dimensions of human development are not specific or set but very flexible. This in the words of Alkire (2010), she states, it allows for it to be applied in different context across different cultures and values.
Capabilities Approach and Freedom
In the capabilities approach as propounded by Amartya Sen, it adds the concept of freedom to basic needs. In this approach, it talks about the concept of functionings (to be and to do). What the individual can be and what they can do and so in the evaluation of the quality of life of a person, it is about the ability to function in each space. (Sen, 1989). Before capability approach was basic needs approach which is mostly interpreted as minimum specified quantities of basic things such as food, clothing, shelter, water, and sanitation that are necessary. (Streeten,1981). This is likened to Abraham Maslow’s theory of human needs, (the first needs called the basic needs). This approach has suffered in the light how to quantify the basic and how to deliver it in a proper manner. (Sen, 1989). In this vein, the basic needs approach puts the needs in just the basket of commodities, or access to economic goods. But capability approach goes a step further to include freedoms. Among the many features of the capability approach as stated by Alkire (2010), includes but not limited to;
– a focus on people as the ‘ends’ of development; clarity about ends and means. People centered.
– a substantive notion of freedom related to well-being (capabilities) and agency (empowerment)
– a focus on that freedom being ‘real’ – not just paper freedom but an actual possibility
– a well-being objective that included multiple capabilities – that need not be unidimensional;
– stable curiously regarding the causal interconnections between different dimensions of human development and between economic growth and human development
– a focus on supporting people as active agents, not passive victims, of development
– an ability to prioritize capabilities for poor people across time while keeping in view the development of rich persons and of non-material capabilities.(Alkire,2010)
In this vein, having people at the center as the ultimate end of development, it brings to the front of the power of freedom as Sen states, “”Freedom is valuable for at least two distinct reasons. First, more freedom gives us more opportunity to achieve those things that we value, and have reason to value… Second, the process through which things happen may also be of fundamental importance in assessing freedom… There is, thus, an important distinction between the ‘opportunity aspect’ and the ‘process aspect’ of freedom. (Alkire,2010). We must not miss out on the emphasis of values, what we value, why we value it. Value thus become the ethical perspective. So, in drawing up development policies and plans, it is about what the people value. As enlarging choices in the context of human development brings about more freedom to function, it stems form the values people across diverse communities attach to these freedoms. Thus, capabilities(functionings) and freedom are totally linked in every way in the context of human development. Sen argues that human development should be considered in the space of capabilities, and that the choice of capabilities is a value judgement (ethics). (Sen,2004).
Definition of Human development
Drawing from the various HD reports of the UNDP and academic literature, Alkire (2010) defined human development as:
Human Development aims to expand people’s freedoms – the worthwhile capabilities people value – and to empower people to engage actively in development processes, on a shared planet.
People are both the beneficiaries and the agents of long term, equitable human development, both as individuals and as groups. Hence Human Development is development by the people of the people and for the people.
And it seeks to do so in ways that appropriately advance equity, efficiency, sustainability and other key principles.
Human development advances capabilities and functionings as beings and doings, human rights, political freedom, and principles of justice from the above definition.
This next section talks about the human capital project as launched by the World Bank recently and its relatedness to human development in its entirety and how it can be translated to a country like Ghana with their “Ghana beyond aid” agenda.
The World Bank and the Human Capital Project
The World Bank was founded in 1944 as the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. It started out as giving loans to countries which had been destroyed by the World War II and later moved on to development which had a great emphasis on infrastructural development. With the founding of the International Development Association in 1960, there was another shift towards helping the poorest of countries get out of poverty. This eradicating poverty goal has become one of the major goals of the World Bank as at now and it is set to achieve it by 2030.
Throughout the fifties and sixties, the Bank’s objective was to increase the GNP of recipient countries. The evolution that occurred in this period was the broadening of the scope of projects considered productive for growth. Hence whereas at first loans were given for capital infrastructure in transport, power, and communications, subsequently education, health, and agriculture also became seen as legitimate projects for Bank loans. (Alkire,2010).
Even though, their main agenda is to fight poverty, careful selection of loans is still paramount on their list. The human capital project comes at a time when the main points of development being driven home in developing countries is mostly physical capital such as more buildings, more roads, dams, factories ,hospitals and others and if there are further items, it is focused on energy, trade, tourism and others with a little focus on the humans who are the main users and makers of these products. Building a hospital and not having the right quality and quantity of staff to man it makes it a total waste of resources. The bank director of the World Bank puts it more beautifully, “Governments in pursuit of economic growth love to invest in physical capital—new roads, beautiful bridges, gleaming airports, and other infrastructure. But they are typically far less interested in investing in human capital, which is the sum of a population’s health, skills, knowledge, experience, and habits. That’s a mistake, because neglecting investments in human capital can dramatically weaken a country’s competitiveness in a rapidly changing world, one in which economies need ever-increasing amounts of talent to sustain growth.” (Kim,2018). The World Bank has set to launch the human capital index in October this year at their annual meeting in Bali. This index sets to measure; health and the quantity and quality of education. They believe with this index, governments can ascertain the wide varying benefits of investing in human capital and not just on economic growth. This is a direction that goes in the line of human development approach.
They start the process of the human capital investment form when a child is born or even while in the womb. Education to expectant mothers concerning pre-natal care, immunizations, breast feeding and other important factors that are needed to sustain a child life to school going age. This he coins by saying, “It is no surprise, then, that focusing on human capital during the first 1,000 days of a child’s life is one of the most cost-effective investments governments can make.” (Kim,2018).
He goes on further to state the benefits of investing in people. Firstly, he talked about the people power which involves the longer a person stays in school, the higher his income levels. This he stated as stated by economists. But he also stated that, it is not just cognitive skills that matter in school but socioeconomic factors such as grit. But even to be able to stay in school for longer, the health of the person is paramount as a healthy person has greater levels of productivity in school and on to the world of work. Staying in school also prevents societal crimes and incarceration and other vices for the betterment of the society. Also, social participation becomes a wide pool of access when human capital investment is highly considered. This is a major benefit as people can appear in public unashamed as discussed by Adam Smith. (Sen, 2000, p9). It is not just about appearing in public but being able to actively participate in conversations that are of public interest. Social participation thus becomes an example of expansion of choices under the human development context. Finally, he talked about the fact it breeds more trust among people and the society, he stated it as an economic benefit for growth, but I will also term as a moral cause. The concept of human capital investment he tells lies with the government but then there is also the visible hand of the people as participants in the process of achieving the goal of human capital. The reason why he rests it on the government is because he believes the people fail to see how their actions affect another and the society. An example he gives as when a mother deworms her child, it prevents the child from infecting others. This brings about the role of agency whereby the people to benefit are not just actors for themselves but then for those around them too and beyond.
In this human capital agenda, it is for present and future generations. It is for providing the groundwork for developing the people to be competitive enough in an ever-changing world and prosper from local, national and international prosperity.
Drawing from the human development theory, investing in humans will not bring about just economic benefits as the World Bank wishes to portray but then it will enhance the general well-being of people. It will increase their freedoms and allow them to be who they want to be and what they want to do. This investment cannot solely be borne by governments as they are faced with some barriers such as looking at viable policies, satisfying political ambitions as against national ambitions. This is one thing that is prevalent in developing countries which is thus characterized by corruption, abuse of power, and misappropriating of funds and resources. This is an agenda that will begin to bring the people to the core of development. This agenda I believe begins to support the human development reports by the UNDP to signal that the success of any nation’s people is characterized by their quality of life(well-being).
Ghana and its periods of development. From 1957-date
Ghana is a West African country in Sub-Sahara Africa. It is located on the Gulf of Guinea. This is a country with a population of 28,855,000estimate in 2017(Britannica). In drawing the human development report for 2016, Ghana’s life expectancy rate at birth stood at 61.5 years, expected years of schooling at 11.5 years, the multidimensional poverty index stood at 0.147. (HDR 2016). This is a country that has undergone a lot of stages in development from the time of independence in 1957. Ghana is a member of ECOWAS, the African Union, the Commonwealth, World Bank, United Nations, and the World Trade Organization. Development strategies started from the very first president Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah who launched the seven-year development plan. In this plan, 62% percent of all investments was to be given to social services sector and then 38% given to ‘directly productive sector’. (Baah,2003). During the era of Nkrumah saw massive infrastructural development like the building of the Akosombo dam, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and others. Unfortunately, his dream of making the country a self-reliant one was short lived as he was overthrown in 1966 by a military coup. After the coup, there was general elections in 1969 which made Kofi Busia the president, in his bid to help the economy, he made some drastic changes which led to his prompt overthrow by another military group, (Kutu Acheampong and co). General Kutu Acheampong also came with his own set of development agendas such as Operation feed yourself, Operation feed your industries leading to grapping the commanding heights of the economy. This also was for the short term and not for long term. He was also overthrown by Flight Lt Jerry John Rawlings few days before the national elections of the country. After the elections, Hilla Limann became the president but also “not able to fix the economy” was overthrown by Flight Lt Jerry John Rawlings. In the time of President Rawlings saw a lot of socio-economic hardships in the country. Under this rule was the influx of Western aid, and pressure to move to democracy. In 1992, a constitution was established and making the country multi-party system and elections were held. Rawlings from the time of his coup stayed in power for 20 years. He was credited with structural adjustments that helped to save the economy from collapse but also left the country in the hands of foreign aids. Kufuor after succeeding him also took the country to highly indebted country regime (HIPC) to help salvage some of the huge debts that had accumulated over the years due to the many borrowings from IMF and the World Bank and not being able to pay back. There was also an improvement. Under his regime was the National Health Insurance scheme launched, School feeding program to help improve the nutrition of young lads who go to school in rural areas. After serving in Ghana for eight years, the successive government under John Evans Atta Mills saw another dimension of development. In his tenure from 2008-2012 saw Ghana’s inflation moving from double digits to single digit, the cedi stabilized, the country was considered as the fastest growing economy by the IMF. In terms of education, he increased capitation grants (public subsidies), introduced the free school uniform and laptop project, the laptop project even extended to Universities where as a student, you needed to just show your ID card and go for your laptop. Extension of the school feeding program, more strategies to remove schools under trees. For health, he and his government created more polyclinics to enable people get access to healthcare. While in the energy sector, he saw to it more rural areas were put on the national grid for electricity moving the coverage from 54% to 72% (Ghanaweb,2011). His successor John Mahama continued some of these projects and introduced other ones like the GEEDA project and community-day school for SHS students. Moving onto the new government under the leadership of President Nana Addo-Dunkwa Akuffo Addo has ushered a new wave of development called the “Ghana beyond Aid agenda”. The President is quoted as saying: “We want to build a Ghana beyond aid; a Ghana which looks to the use of its own resources. We want to build an economy that is not dependent on charity and handouts, but an economy that will look at the proper management of its resources as the way to engineer social and economic growth in our country.” (Jotie,2018).
In his speech, during the country’s 61st independence he said, “It is time to pursue a path to prosperity and self-respect for our nation. A Ghana Beyond Aid is a prosperous and self-confident Ghana that is in charge of her economic destiny; a transformed Ghana that is prosperous enough to be beyond needing aid, and that engages competitively with the rest of the world through trade and investment. It is possible.” (Citifmonline,2018). In this agenda, there is value added industrialized economy (one district, one factory), increasing food sufficiency, reducing food imports and creating jobs (planting for food and jobs), digitalization of various platforms such as national Id cards, driving license, vehicle registration, paperless port operations and business registration, all this is in a bit to reduce corruption as corruption stays as a major factor in stifling development through revenue leakages and poor turnaround time for custom processing and clearance of goods, also there is innovation through cutting edge research to ensure proper management of the economy. At the helm is education, to achieve all these, the human capital base of the country must be educated. This has led to the introduction of the free senior high school policy which was launched in 2017 at the start of the September academic year. Under the free SHS program, a lot of people in the school going age were able to attend school last year and it promises to increase this year come September. President Akufo-Addo has said investments into the human resource of Ghana has the potential of catapulting the ‘Ghana beyond aid’ agenda. The president is hopeful this trend could even result in the export of skilled personnel. He stated this in a speech read on his behalf by the Information Minister, Mustapha Hamid at the second Africa Leadership Conference in Accra. “In the next few years, Ghana will have the strong human capital to drive its own socio-economic activities and also be in a position to export human resources. I am confident that this will create a firm foundation on which to propel the ‘Ghana Beyond Aid’ agenda and achieving our destiny as a country.
We in Ghana have set the pace and I encourage my compatriots on the continent to equally implement policies that strengthen their human capital base,” he said. (Joynews,2018).
This clearly shows the path towards human development, to achieve every aspect of the agenda, the human force must be developed right from infancy. To create a prosperous Ghana, the individual freedoms of the citizens must be enhanced.
This agenda calls for the citizens not to be passive beneficiaries but active participants in moving the country in the direction of becoming a developed country, calling on stakeholders to come on board. Looking at the human development definition, it is about the country deciding to be and do what it values at the heart of the country. At the end of the day, it seeks to meet the people as the ends in its development policy. Looking back at the previous development policies by previous governments, keeping people at the center was not on the minds of the government but it was more about physical capital but as times have changed and people do not realize any impact, it is time for the government to also consider building its human base because it is in that all other sectors can develop. Building both the formal and informal sectors of education as such. For a country like Ghana, vocational skills, technical skills and university skills are highly needed to catapult the country to enjoy future prosperity and also to be ready for the future world of work. But to do this, an ethical strategy must be considered to avoid waste of human potentialities. (Goulet,1971). Since the launch of this agenda, it has faced criticisms that it is seeking to reject foreign aid but as Goulet(1971) said, “underdevelopment countries will need to devise an ethical strategy to regulate their domestic efforts as well as their dealings with other nations of several types…” If the government seriously considers the ethical aspect of its development agenda, it will seek to create an enabling environment needed to push this plan forward.
The basic aim of the human capital approach launched by the World Bank is to propel and prepare countries for the future ahead. Ghana beyond Aid also seeks to bring about prosperity for the present and future generations with the core of human resource development. Ghana can be put under the list of the countries for the development of its human capital. As to how the World Bank can adequately access and evaluate this project in different countries considering their varying cultures, social norms and others may prove as a huge challenge. “No single strategy is suited to all countries…” (Goulet,1971).
But then, development in its ethical form calls for keeping the dignity and values of the people intact. Considering their social, cultural, moral norms goes a long way to form their ethical perspectives which in light paves way for a more ethical approach to development by governments, development planners, international organization and other stakeholders. Like the President of Ghana said in his speech during the 61st-anniversary of Ghana’s independence, there is no dignity or pride in poverty. His agenda seeks to create a prosperous Ghana for all. Thus, creating in terms of development of the people,for the people, and by the people. (Alkire,2010).
Development to solve poverty is more of an ethical issue as countries consider their values and dignity to provide what its people need and at the same time not encroaching on their human dignity. Ethics must therefore become the “means of the means” to achieve a sound development.
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