DENI: How practicable is it?

10 January 2009 at 23:49 | 863 views

By Mohamed Boye Jallo Jamboria, Bergen, Norway.

The scope of this paper is not to sell nor justify the DENI concept to Sierra Leoneans at home and /or in the Diaspora, though I am sold to it, but to examine the concept from an unbiased and as objective as possible perspective .This I shall do by way of comparison, illustrations and analysis where necessary.

Personally, I am given to concepts and models that preach the greater good and which tend to propagate a greater participation in the production, accumulation and distribution of wealth if not incomes.
However, in this world of multitudes of social, political and economic ramifications resulting from the complex and heterogeneous nature of humanity, it is always the most reasonable of risk taking that pays off.

Any such risk has to be taken against a background of multifaceted analysis and investigations with regards the logical and temporal imports and exports of the activity(ies) involved and ,of course, the expected outcome(s) of the said.
As an intern in the profession of consultancy, I would as a matter of scholarly device as well as from a professional perspective try to examine and weight the odds with regards to the paractibality, adoptability, adapatability and overall sustainability of the concept against several institutional and social correlates and parameters.
This examination will seek to answer the all important questions:(a) Is DENI a new concept and (b) Will it be a success case and make a difference?
To achieve this examination will be done on two levels taking into consideration similar and different institutional and social frameworks.
First I will address, by way of comparison, the issue of institutional framework. Three types of institutions will be considered in this examination and /or analysis. These are:

(1) Nonprofits organisations (2) multi lateral organisations and (3) local/national institutions which include the governmental institutions as well.
Sierra Leone and the region of Africa has since time in memorial been espoused to and enveloped in the dependency syndrome .This more or less grew out of a mental state which by governmental and non governmental principles and practices encouraged and aided the belief that “God and governments give gifts!” and one only has to be in a connected position to get a bit of that gift. The very idea of non-profit benevolence was taken to Africa by colonising forces which wanted to gain favours and allegiances from the local populace for them to loot and enslave, directly or otherwise, the locals. This is the raison d’etre behind religious bodies establishing and running schools, a very expensive but equally important capital investment for any country or society that wants to make progress. After African countries got political independence they came to discover how dependent they have to be economically as the costs of sustenance of what was once seen and understood to be services of benevolence became overbearing on budgets made for consumption oriented rather than production oriented economies. This combined with the distinctive nature of the demographic and other structures of the African region, social and environmental forces catalysed into motion and made the dependency factor more acute and desperate. As a result and due to other diverse external factors and agendas, nonprofits organisations mushroomed and became a new vogue of socio-economic servicing over the last three decades exchanging the role of government and in the process posing a number of new socio-economic and political challenges.

Due to the complex ramifications of these challenges, most if not all nonprofits projects have ended as enhancing factors of a cyclic syndrome of dependency both in their impact and outcomes on the targeted populations. In the process little or no economic gains have been realised and the beat goes on and on! The more of these organisations the more inverse proportionate the statistical and actual realisations of change it seems, begging the question; if these nonprofits organisations were effective why is the poverty index not reducing? And the related question will be how long does this game of dependency sustenance have to go on before change can be realised? To give the “devil” his due, nonprofits organisations have been playing very useful roles in the alleviations of social tensions and conflict reduction in the sense that whilst they last some sense of progress and normalcy is evoked and sustained and with the ever emerging new nonprofits organisations a climate of “assumed” progress and sustenance is maintained without any actual economic growth and/or change. The only achievable impact is the sustenance of the dependency factor.

For the sake of being a bit more explicit I will borrow from the recent publication of Nobel peace prize winner, Founder of the progressive Grameen Bank concept and author, Mohamed Yunus.

In his book “Creating a World Without Poverty”,PublicAffairs,2007 he argued a case for a new kind of business he calls social business and says with regards to nonprofits organisations “Frustrated with governments many people who care about the problems of the world have started nonprofits organisations...Charity is rooted in basic concern for other humans.... Yet nonprofits alone have proven an inadequate response to social problems. Charity too has a significant built-in weakness: it relies on a steady stream of donations by generous individuals ,organisations or government agencies...Charity is a form of trickle-down economics ;so does the help for the needy...As a result, there is a built-in ceiling to reach and effectiveness of nonprofits organisations.”

These statements outline the basic institutional and /or operational limits of nonprofits organisations. However there are other sides to it that Yunus did not mention. These are the socio-cultural parameters to nonprofits organisations. These of course vary with the social intelligence of the location of activity as well as with the implied but unexpressed objectives of the organisation. The implied objective can range from expansions of area of influence and consolidation of support base for a religious way of life to as remote as creating and expanding new markets for the sales of a particular product of one or several of the sponsors of a nonprofits organisation.

With regards to the impact of the social intelligence on nonprofits bodies; recruitments and managements, identification and endorsement of area of activity plus a host of other considerations are not always influenced by realistic and actual needs assessments but some undeclared agenda of the actors in the management and operations of the organisation.

Such undeclared agenda can take any shape or from and normally is influenced by a social psychology of group identity and /or protection of some interest. The Protectionist psychology comes in to play when the management unconsciously allows personal interests to supersede institutional internets and some smart guy uses this organisation to promote a political, ethnic or regional agenda. In such a situation the organisation takes a synonymy and identity to a regional development organisation and whosoever instigates such a process soon galvanise into a political figure for the specific region in question. This challenge is more acute in the African context due to the heterogeneity of the socio-cultural and hence socio-political group identities. This is why specific group identified nonprofits organisation like religious organisations, descendants associations, district or regional groups,fratanities and sororities have proven to be more effective in terms of impact and final outcomes than socio-economic organisations who preach change by targeting a specific socio-economic or cultural activity.

To be more specific, international nonprofits organisations and some religious organisations with inputs from some external source but staffed mainly by local managements personnel normally end up making a few better off in the social ladder than the target populations as a result of the force of the social psychology mentioned inter alia.On the obverse side of the coin, specific group organisation that take up a nonprofits activity normally show more success as the needs and other specifics are addressed by all and sundry and the mental status quo of belonging and obligations are observed in the formal and informal levels of the organisations stated goals and objectives.

At the end of the day the insignia nonprofits transforms into profits for a specific purpose or group and nonprofits for the majority of the participants, the lumpen who always act or serve as the pawns and made to believe in the achievability of specified goals by taking and performing the role of actors in the complexes of operations devised to profit the aforementioned.
Also nonprofits organisation have, in the process of their operations and with due considerations to the humanistic side of influence they have to put up with, soon transform into informal and unofficial interest groups influenced by the existing political status quo.This is the case in situations wherein new organisations emerge with new political regimes propagating and /or proclaiming a new way and trend of doing what has been done before. At the end of the day it is like running on a moving conveyor belt and no scalar progress is achieved whilst a façade of vectored hope is maintained.

With regards to this ,solicitations and pressure from a specific power welding group can use a nonprofits organisation to promote an agenda and create trickle down non sustainable benefits to a targeted population for the sole purpose of maintaining an influence or otherwise in a subtle but undeclared and unwritten manner. This is so because the flame of hope and mirage of progress is used to maintain the wished status quo of the power brokering group.

At some given point in time the in situ propagators of such plan of action tend to make open declarations, as achievements, of the presence or influence of such nonprofits organisation on the lives of the target population and in the process solicit support so that they can continue to be benevolent enough to continue with the declared project even though the project in question may not be making any realistic impact on the socio-economic wellbeing and progress of the targeted participants.

To be continued next issue: Focus on multilateral organisations like the World Bank/IMF and their impact on growth and development.