A proposal to analyse international aid projects: From individual autonomy to human development

Muñiz Castillo, Mirtha R. (2008). A proposal to analyse international aid projects: From individual autonomy to human development. UNU-MERIT.

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  • Sub-type Working paper
    Author Muñiz Castillo, Mirtha R.
    Title A proposal to analyse international aid projects: From individual autonomy to human development
    Publication Date 2008
    Place of Publication Maastricht
    Publisher UNU-MERIT
    Pages 32
    Language es
    Abstract Human development refers to expanding human capabilities and leading flourishing and worthy lives. People require certain capacity to choose such lives, according to their values and goals. This capacity must be effective, that is, people must have real options (reachable) of which to choose. The structural contexts must be taken into account. This paper presents a conceptual framework of individual autonomy as a combined or effective capability, not only an internal capability based on abilities. This framework emphasises the relationships of individuals and groups in specific contexts that define their entitlements. Individuals exercise their autonomy all the time, but to different extents. The analysis is focused on a specific context: a development project. In this case, the individual experiences of autonomy evolve in interaction of several actors such as project staff, non-government organizations and donors. Project design and implementation have effects on this process. The study is based on four development projects of social infrastructure, executed by Luxembourg�۪s bilateral development agency in Nicaragua and El Salvador. This study confirms that is necessary to explore the multilevel structural contexts, in order to understand the experiences of autonomy. Moreover, people value to be able to help themselves. Individual autonomy and the capacity of groups to reach their goals can be affected by assumptions made during the project cycle, explicitly or implicitly. These assumptions include, for instance, which objectives are the best for people, which channels work better during the implementation, what is participation and what is a community (and whether there is one). The paper concludes that appropriately designed and managed projects can provide people the opportunities to exercise their autonomy so that they are better prepared to take initiatives and face future challenges. In contrast, projects exclusively focused on reaching tangible objectives, in disregard to human effects and institutional contexts can block these opportunities. This paper proposes that, through a deep analysis of projects, it is possible to find and support mechanisms to promote individual autonomy directly, putting emphasis on practices and relationships, not only on activities and results. To identify individual autonomy as an explicit development objective can help people, if they so consider, promote a significant change in their lives, improve and defend their well-being. Keywords: human development, autonomy, capabilities, project evaluation
    Copyright Holder UNU-MERIT
    Copyright Year 2008
    Copyright type Creative commons
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    Created: Fri, 13 Dec 2013, 12:14:55 JST