1st Edition

Rethinking Ownership of Development in Africa

ISBN 9780367352905
Published August 26, 2019 by Routledge
142 Pages

USD $59.95

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Book Description

Rethinking Ownership of Development in Africa demonstrates how instead of empowering the communities they work with, the jargon of development ownership often actually serves to perpetuate the centrality of multilateral organizations and international donors in African development, awarding a fairly minimal role to local partners.

In the context of today’s development scheme for Africa, ownership is often considered to be the panacea for all of the aid-dependent continent’s development woes. Reinforced through the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)’s Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness and the Accra Agenda for Action, ownership is now the preeminent procedure for achieving aid effectiveness and a range of development outcomes. Throughout this book, the author illustrates how the ownership paradigm dictates who can produce development knowledge and who is responsible for carrying it out, with a specific focus on the health sectors in Burkina Faso and Kenya. Under this paradigm, despite the ownership narrative, national stakeholders in both countries are not producers of development knowledge; they are merely responsible for its implementation. This book challenges the preponderance of conventional international development policies that call for more ownership from African stakeholders without questioning the implications of donor demands and historical legacies of colonialism in Africa. Ultimately, the findings from this book make an important contribution to critical development debates that question international development as an enterprise capable of empowering developing nations.

This lively and engaging book challenges readers to think differently about the ownership, and as such will be of interest to researchers of development studies and African studies, as well as for development practitioners within Africa.

Table of Contents


List of Abbreviations


1. Theorizing Ownership

2. La Santé Avant Tout (Health Before Everything)

3. Beggars Can’t Be Choosers

4. Ownership in Comparison

Conclusion: Go Back and Get It

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T. D. Harper-Shipman is an assistant professor of Africana Studies at Davidson College.


"This well written book is a critical interrogation of the term "ownership" in the context of development, which is necessary as the World Bank, civil society organisations and African governments remain ensnared in new forms of coloniality. By comparing how Kenya and Burkina Faso embrace the "ownership paradigm" in their respective health sectors, Harper-Shipman exposes how maldevelopment continues to be blamed on African countries rather than the ahistorical neo-liberal policy frameworks of donors. It is a fine contribution to the study of the political economy of development." -- Ama Biney PhD, independent scholar, Author of The Political and Social Thought of Kwame Nkrumah, London, UK

"This book expertly and carefully explores how the ownership paradigm portrays donors as not being responsible for development failures and African governments as being unable to make development decisions without donors’ expertise. A must read for anyone interested in understanding how ownership of development is working in Burkina Faso and Kenya." -- Francis Owusu, Professor and Chair of the Department of Community and Regional Planning, Iowa State University, USA.

"Rethinking Ownership of Development in Africa is an engaging and well-executed study of the paradigm of ownership of development, which followed the structural adjustment phase of the neoliberal paradigm.  Harper-Shipman does an excellent job in explaining exactly what is at stake in this more recent paradigm, and in particular what it means for Africa. A great read and a valuable contribution!" -- Paget Henry, Professor at Brown University, USA

"This book is a detailed and fascinating exposé of the power of language. It demonstrates with ample illustration how the language of ‘ownership’, coupled with consent of needy or poor countries, and the logic of neoliberal capitalism shifted the burdens of obligation and the liabilities for failure of development projects away from the counsels and experts of capital, lending states, and their experts onto poor countries." -- Siba N'Zatioula Grovogu, Professor of International Relations Theory and Law, Cornell University, USA