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Development delayed

exploring the failure of a large-scale agricultural investment in Tanzania to deliver promised outcomes

Engström, Linda (2018). Development delayed. Diss. (sammanfattning/summary) Uppsala, Sweden : Sveriges lantbruksuniv., Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae, 1652-6880 ; 2018:40
ISBN 978-91-7760-220-0
eISBN 978-91-7760-221-7
[Doctoral thesis]

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Abstract

Since the early 2000s, large-scale agricultural investment has experienced a revival on the agenda for rural development in Africa, purported to bring, for instance, efficient agricultural production, reduced import expenditures and poverty alleviation. This new wave of large-scale agricultural investment has been described as more extensive in scale than previous attempts to promote such large farms. However, closer scrutiny reveals that in many countries, the expected flood of investments has so far been only a trickle. So far, few studies have been conducted to investigate this trend of failure.

The overarching aim of this thesis is to contribute to the knowledge about how and why this new wave of large-scale agricultural investment failed to deliver proposed outcomes. This is done by exploring the empirical trajectories of, and the reasons behind, the failure of a planned public private partnership, a large scale sugar-cane investment in Tanzania, to deliver promised outcomes.

In interviews with project proponents and rural residents targeted by investment, the thesis shows how project proponents simplified complex contexts in order to ‘sell’ narratives of imminent success. Such simplifications interacted with context to produce delays in project implementation and subsequent failure of the project to materialise. Importantly, these delays had severe negative impacts on local communities. Despite delay being a common feature in development projects, it has been little discussed. Combined, these findings suggest that delay is an important, but overlooked, factor when understanding development failure, and that delay should not be conceived as inevitable and innocent.

Through discourse analysis and drawing on the concept ‘resilient narratives’, I analyse discursive practices used by proponents to sustain the image of success, in the face of contradicting narratives and materialities.

Mainly drawing on post-development and post-colonial theory, I then position my findings in debates on development narratives and development failure, and advance some reflections on the influence of close collaboration with a private actor in development assistance in relation to these findings.

While the context of the case study is highly complex and to a certain extent unpredictable, I argue that proponents have a responsibility to understand this context, and address it in their policies and projects. Finally, I argue that more attention must be paid to the impacts of delayed or non-materialised projects in both academia and policy debates.

Authors/Creators:Engström, Linda
Title:Development delayed
Subtitle:exploring the failure of a large-scale agricultural investment in Tanzania to deliver promised outcomes
Alternative abstract:
LanguageAbstract
Swedish

Sedan början av 2000-talet har storskaliga jordbruksinvesteringar återinförts som utvecklingsstrategi för Afrikas landsbygd, som en reaktion på globala livsmedels-, klimat och finanskriser. Investeringarna sägs bidra till exempelvis effektiv livsmedelsproduktion, arbetstillfällen och fattigdomsbekämpning. Den nya investeringsvågen har beskrivits som snabbare och mer omfattande än historiska försök med storskaligt jordbruk. En närmare granskning visar emellertid att bara ett fåtal av alla förväntade investeringsprojekt har genomförts. Hittills har det dock gjorts få studier med fokus på just detta.

Den här avhandlingen ska undersöka hur och varför ett planerat offentligt-privat partnerskap – ett storskaligt sockerrörsprojekt i Tanzania – inte har lyckats uppnå utlovade resultat. Utifrån intervjuer med beslutsfattare och den lokalbefolkning som berörs av investeringarna visar avhandlingen hur projektets förespråkare presenterar förenklade budskap om en komplex kontext i syfte att "sälja in" ett narrativ om nära förestående framgångar. Avhandlingen visar också hur dessa förenklingar samspelar med kontexten och ger upphov till upprepade förseningar, som orsakar stora problem för lokalbefolkningen och i slutändan leder till att projektet läggs ned. Trots att förseningar är ett vanligt inslag i utvecklingsprojekt har de hittills inte fått någon större uppmärksamhet. De är dock en viktig förklaring till att utvecklingsprojekt misslyckas, och bör inte ses som ofrånkomliga och harmlösa faktorer.

Genom diskursanalys och utifrån begreppet ’resilienta narrativ’ visar jag hur projektförespråkarna vidmakthåller bilden av ett lyckat projekt, trots en mängd motstridiga narrativ och problem på plats. Slutligen analyserar jag hur narrativ som stöder investeringen skapas, sprids och konsumeras mellan projektförespråkarna.

Med användning av post-development och postkolonial teori positionerar jag mina resultat i debatten om utvecklingsnarrativ och utvecklingsarbetets misslyckande att leverera utlovade resultat, samt reflekterar över eventuella konsekvenser av privatiseringen inom biståndet.

Min avhandling visar att även om kontexten där dessa projekt ska implementeras är komplex och delvis oförutsägbar, så har förespråkarna av storskaliga jordbruksinvesteringar ett ansvar att förstå och ta hänsyn till kontexten i policybeslut och projektplaner. Slutligen argumenterar jag för att effekterna av nedlagda eller försenade projekt förtjänar mer uppmärksamhet i både den akademiska och den policyrelaterade debatten.

Series/Journal:Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae (1652-6880)
Year of publishing :2018
Depositing date:17 August 2018
Volume:2018:40
Number of Pages:161
Papers/manuscripts:
NumberReferences
IAbdallah, J., Engström, L., Havnevik, K. & Salomonsson, L. (2013). A critical analysis of practices and dynamics of large-scale land acquisitions in Tanzania. In: Zoomers, A. & Kaag, M. (Eds.) The Global Land Grab – Beyond the Hype. ZED Books, London, UK, pp. 36-53.
IIEngström, L. Land deals in limbo: Exploring simplification, delay and development failure in a large-scale agro-investment in Tanzania. Manuscript.
IIIEngström, L. & Hajdu, F. (2018). Conjuring a win-world – Resilient development narratives in a large-scale agro-investment in Tanzania, Journal of Development Studies (1-20). https://doi.org/10.1080/00220388. 2018.1438599
IVBluwstein, J., Friis Lund, J., Askew, K., Stein, H., Noe, C., Odgaard, R., Maganga, F. & Engström, L. (2018). Between dependence and deprivation: the interlocking nature of land alienation in Tanzania. Journal of Agrarian Change. https://doi.org/10.1111/joac.12271
Place of Publication:Uppsala, Sweden
Publisher:Department of Urban and Rural Development, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Associated Programs and Other Stakeholders:SLU - Agricultural Sciences for Global Development > Land use and climate change
SLU - Agricultural Sciences for Global Development > Efficiency in farming systems
SLU - Agricultural Sciences for Global Development > Scale issues in relation to food security and poverty alleviation
ISBN for printed version:978-91-7760-220-0
ISBN for electronic version:978-91-7760-221-7
ISSN:1652-6880
Language:English
Additional Information:Externa finansiärer: Vetenskapsrådet (U-forsk), Formas, KSLA, Helge Ax:son Johnsons Stiftelse, Society and Landscape Research School.
Publication Type:Doctoral thesis
Full Text Status:Public
Agris subject categories.:E Economics, development, and rural sociology > E10 Agricultural economics and policies
E Economics, development, and rural sociology > E11 Land economics and policies
E Economics, development, and rural sociology > E14 Development economics and policies
E Economics, development, and rural sociology > E20 Organization, administration and management of agricultural enterprises or farms
E Economics, development, and rural sociology > E21 Agro-industry
P Natural resources > P01 Nature conservation and land resources
P Natural resources > P06 Renewable energy resources
Subjects:(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 5 Social Sciences > 509 Other Social Sciences > Social Sciences Interdisciplinary (Peace and Conflict Research and Studies on Sustainable Society)
Agrovoc terms:large scale investment, investments, public-private cooperation, sugarcane, land grabbing, losses, crop losses
Keywords:simplification, delay, development failure, development narratives, largescale agricultural investment, land grabbing, privatisation of development
URN:NBN:urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-e-4968
Permanent URL:
http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-e-4968
ID Code:15590
Faculty:NJ - Fakulteten för naturresurser och jordbruksvetenskap
Department:(NL, NJ) > Dept. of Urban and Rural Development
(LTJ, LTV) > Dept. of Urban and Rural Development
External funders:Swedish Research Council
Deposited By: Informatör Anni Hoffrén
Deposited On:28 Aug 2018 14:37
Metadata Last Modified:06 Mar 2019 14:27

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