So, this is old history. Rich countries go out and conquer poor countries. In particular in modern times, western countries displayed this nasty tendency to the extreme. But, controversially, once Western-style colonialism was officially over, “development” began. Rich countries began giving “aid” to poor countries, to help them to “develop”. And then, some really bored people who couldn’t get into engineering or medicine or law schools began poking around these aid programmes, criticizing them and talking about them, and development studies was born. And the Newcomer went to Dalhousie University, Halifax.
So last night, I was studying the official government development aid thingy for the UK . Now all Iranians know that just as America is very good, the Brits are really evil, they seriously messed up our history, they`re on the side of the moooolahs, etc etc. And believe me, what I read last night confirmed all my sentiments- or perhaps just that government bureaucrats are stupid or vicious, or both. Those Brits are pure evil- (depsite my having spent some of the best and most formative years of my life there, and having seen nothing but respect and affection from the individual men and women who live on the fair green isle.)
The document I was studying was describing Logical Frameworks or `logframes` as a tool for managing development projects in poor countries. All projects which receive aid from the UK department for foreign aid has to be formatted in logframes. The basic premise is simple: there is a matrix, and you write down the outputs, assumptions, risks in one set of columns. Then you write the ouputs, outcomes and impacts on another set of columns. Then you write the activities required to get you from the inputs to the outputs. You draw lines and arrows connecting the various boxes. If you are feeling creative, you can draw the lines in red, the boxes in green. Whatever.
So far, so good. But what made me froth with rage and vomit with disgust was the sample logframe it had provided. The logframe described a project: building a swing for kids in a village in Africa. In the purpose box we had: “
Children have fun, are busy and safe because there are more recreational facilities in the village.
Then we had Objectively Verifiable Indicators:
75% of young children use the swing at least once a month
90% young children using the swing feel happier
The Risks and Assunptions:
Safe recreation leads to happiness and community integration
Facilities don t create conflict
Then of course, there was a whole row of boxes for the Committee which was formed to monitor the use of the swing. And some more boxes for other things.
Hey! People sitting up at the Department of Foreign Aid in the UK- wake up! Get real! It`s just a swing! Walk out into the street to the nearest grassy area, and you`ll probably see half-a-dozen! You don`t need to write a whole logframe to justify erecting a swing for a village in Africa- you don`t need to do “user surveys” or “children participation evaluation” to see if the kids enjoy playing on the swing. You don`t need a committee to monitor the use of the swing! You don’t have swing committees in Britain- the British don’t need them, and neither do Africans! Stop being so patronizing, so evil!
The sheer, utter, immeasurable stupidness of the bureaucratic mentality which produced this piece of Kafka-esque red tape is beyond belief. I can`t wait for class tomorrow- I am going to slaughter this document. Hurrah for free speech.