A common form of development aid to the Global South has been distributed as “the prescriptive package”. Whether presented as a Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) and the reform of the state, TVA dams and the harnessing of nature, or the Green Revolution and the push towards agricultural modernity—the prescriptive package is a “cookie-cutter” model of development prescribed to the developing world regardless of local context and often with disastrous results. Without modification for local
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And finally, the first world’s underlying rationality of development is a third flaw. It is asked rhetorically: “Why wouldn’t they want what we have? And aren’t we the ones to give it to them?” Too often, good-hearted development projects are put into effect by well-meaning people with an ignorance of local needs and desires. And even in other cases these well-meaning people aren’t entirely altruistic; the “we can do it anywhere, for anyone” attitude is arrogant and costly yes, but it is also allows a foot in the door for the developer to access previously unexploited economies.
The first example is that of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund’s SAPs—Structural Adjustment Programs. SAPs were put into effect during the 1970s and 1980s as a condition of a developing country receiving a loan from the World Bank or IMF. Armed with the goal of jump-starting capitalism and entrance into the world economy, SAPs were prescriptive packages whose flaws led them to fail socially and economically.
SAPs were “a new euphemism for modernization and growth at all costs…often consisting of a package of actions that include currency devaluation, reducing inflation, downsizing the public service, drastic cutbacks on government expenditures on education, health care and welfare, financial reform, privatization of public enterprises, export promotion, and other policies…” (Konadu-Agyemang 2000: 473). The implementation of these modifications was supposed to remove