Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Department of Agricultural Economics and Social Sciences, Germany
Self-sustaining development, lasting impact, empowerment is what development actors aim for. But at the end of a development intervention many find themselves worrying that everything will collapse and much effort has been in vain. Local beneficiaries and intermediary organisations experience phase out as a shock and surprise. Some even express feelings of betrayal. Decisions on phase out are usually taken by the donor and are little participatory. Development interventions naturally create dependencies since roles and responsibilities are taken over by outside actors and resources are provided. Consequently developing effective strategies enabling phase out is not only prerequisite to achieve empowerment and avoid long-term aid dependency. It will determine an intervention's overall sustainability and effectiveness as well as the efficient use of limited resources, and attitudes towards future development interventions. Having these facts in mind, and the many failures attributed by development practitioners to the ending of external support, it is striking that phasing out is one of the least understood and documented aspects of development. This research is based on a participatory action research approach with case studies in Kenya and Tanzania involving participatory community development programs. To enable phase out the two dimensions of aid dependency, the physical and psychological, need to be addressed. Physical dependency is created when development programs rely on outside capacities that cannot be built locally or when no or ineffective strategies are in place to build capacities and transfer responsibilities. Psychological dependency, often described as dependency syndrome, is caused by beliefs and attitudes held by outsiders and locals, that the target group is not able or willing to take over. Psychological dependency needs to be addressed right from the initial stage to change negative perceptions about phase out. This is precondition for a participatory programme design process which from the beginning considers what responsibilities should be taken over by outsiders and develops realistic strategies for transfer. Continuous monitoring allows adapting the strategies. Development practices that encourage strengthening capacities and building on local resources are appreciative approaches, participation, training of local facilitators and trainers, building external linkages and cluster level organisations, cost sharing, advocacy.
Keywords: Dependency, phase out, programme planning, project management