The Development Context
This study falls at the intersection of several key themes or debates in International Development. These include the debate about the role and effectiveness of official international assistance agencies, the body of thought on the micropolitical forces which shape the development assistance process, and the debate over the ecological limits to and sustainabiltiy of economic growth. The following sections will review the most important concepts and some of the authors associated with those themes.
1) What do international donor agencies do, and do they do it well? Some
discussion has been given in the literature to approach taken by international donor agencies to development assistance. For the most part, this discussion has focused on the fact that large governmental and bureaucratic agencies lack the flexibility to adapt to changing conditions and be effective at grassroots-level implementation. In a scathing condemnation of official international development assistance, Korten (1990) asserts that such efforts are defined by the bounds of bureaucratic convenience, and that there has been a strong preference in international assistance for short-term, narrowly-focused, and self-interested efforts.' Hellinger et al. (1988), in an assessment of the U.S. Agency for International Development, suggest that even when more farsighted and well-designed approaches emerge, they "face internal structures, operational procedures, and reward systems geared to promote objectives related primarily to expansionary ' David C. Korten, Getting to the 21st Century, West Hartford, CT: Kumarian Press, 1990, pp. 36-137.
and survival interests of the AID bureaucracyi'
In the context of this criticism and domestic political pressure to re-invent government in accordance with slimmer, private sector-style management, the U. S. Agency for International Development has been demonstrative about its efforts to manage for results and focus on measurable impacts in the developing world. This study will examine the Agency's approach to biodiversity conservation in an effort to see if the aforementioned criticisms remain valid for this sector of assistance activities. It will focus primarily on comparing the biodiversity strategies currently promulgated at the mission-level to what the body of literature suggests about appropriate policy.
While both of the authors mentioned above are critical of official development assistance
approaches, they acknowledge that official assistance agencies and donors have shown an increasing trend toward supporting and interacting with NGO's -- a trend both authors would like to see continue and grow. This study will also help to illuminate the ways in which one international assistance agency is interacting with NGO's to preserve biodiversity -- and whether the relationship is likely to be an effective one.
2) Micropolitics as development substructure and superstructure. Much of the