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Ghent University (2012)

Development aid to water management in Mali : the actors, ’global’ paradigms, and ’local’ translations

Cherlet Jan

Titre : Development aid to water management in Mali : the actors, ’global’ paradigms, and ’local’ translations

Auteur : Cherlet Jan

Université de soutenance : Ghent University

Grade : Dissertation 2012

Résumé
Development aid involves a complex network of numerous and extremely heterogeneous actors. Nevertheless, all actors seem to speak the same ‘development jargon’ and to display a congruence that extends from the donor over the professional consultant to the village chief. And although the ideas about what counts as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ aid have constantly changed over time —with new paradigms and policies sprouting every few years— the apparent congruence between actors more or less remains unchanged. How can this be explained ? Is it a strategy of all actors to get into the pocket of the donor, or are the social dynamics in development aid more complex ? When a new development paradigm appears, where does it come from and how does it gain support ? Is this support really homogeneous ? To answer the questions, a multi-sited ethnography was conducted in the sector of water-related development aid, with a focus on 3 paradigms that are currently hegemonic in this sector : Integrated Water Resources Management, Capacity Building, and Adaptation to Climate Change. The sites of inquiry were : the headquarters of a multilateral organization, the headquarters of a development NGO, and the Inner Niger Delta in Mali. The research shows that paradigm shifts do not happen overnight but that new paradigms have long lines of descent. Moreover, they require a lot of work from actors in order to become hegemonic ; the actors need to create a tight network of support. Each actor, however, interprets the paradigms in a slightly different way, depending on the position in the network. They implant their own interests in their interpretation of the paradigm (the actors ‘translate’ their interests), regardless of whether they constitute the donor, a mediator, or the aid recipient. These translations are necessary to cement and reproduce the network.

Mots clés : Actor-Network Theory, Integrated Water Resources Management, Capacity Building, Multi-sited Ethnography, Inner Niger Delta

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Page publiée le 8 décembre 2014, mise à jour le 25 novembre 2018