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Title: Development interventions in Mozambique: human agency and the NGO-community interface
Author: Arnall, Alexander H.
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2007
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It is increasingly recognised that poor people in developing countries are continually devising new and innovative strategies for exercising agency in development arenas. The apparent failure of top-down instrumental and critical perspectives in capturing these strategies has led to recent exploration for new possibilities in neo-populist development theory and practice. This research seeks to determine the role of human agency in NGO-initiated community-driven development (CDD) in rural Mozambique. This aim is achieved through the application of interface analysis to two comparative case study resettlement communities that were constructed by an international and a national NGO following the floods of 2000. In both communities research investigates the implementation of food security projects from a range of different perspectives using a variety of qualitative-based Participatory Rural Appraisal techniques and conventional methods. The findings provide insight into the commonly-observed disparity between rhetoric and practice in CDD. In order to maximise their room-for-manoeuvre, the case study NGOs create representations of the development process that are far simpler than the realities of their operational activities on the ground. The findings do not sustain the instrumental perspectives upheld by the case study NGOs of how interventions proceed. Critical views of CDD account well for observed shortcomings in reaching marginalised community groups. Community members affected by intervention are found to exercise agency in the pursuit of diverse interests across the NGO-community interface. These include community leaders, who are able to significantly shape local institutions introduced by the NGOs, and less powerful groups, who manipulate project discourse in managing their own relationships with external actors. The study concludes that a deeper understanding by NGOs of the local situations in which they operate, combined with a more flexible approach to project implementation, would allow more locally-grounded alternatives to NGO-centred interpretations of development to be acted upon
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available