Stopping As Success: Perspectives on Aid from the Philippines

Farzana Ahmed, Senior Researcher at Peace Direct

Created 05/30/2019



Farzana Ahmed, Senior Researcher at Peace Direct who are leading the “Stopping As Success” learning project, reports on conversations she had with aid actors at a SAS convened workshop in the Philippines in April this year.

How should we define “local” and “international” in the context of aid? Can partnerships between aid recipients and aid providers continue after a project closure? Has foreign aid helped or distorted local capacity? Whose voice is prioritised in decision-making? These are just some of the questions we seek to explore through our Stopping As Success: planning for success from start to exit collaborative learning project.

In April 2018, I travelled to the Philippines to try and answer some of these questions, in collaboration with the researcher Chris Millora. Chris is a PhD Fellow at the UNESCO Chair on Adult Literacy and Learning for Social Transformation at the University of East Anglia, where his doctoral research is an ethnographic study exploring the adult learning and literacy dimension of volunteering. Chris is from Iloilo City and his understanding of the local context, and interest and expertise in our research focus meant he was an ideal person to collaborate with.

During our research trip, we conducted interviews with 56 international and local aid actors in Manila, Davao City and Iloilo City to learn about the challenges and opportunities for international and local partnerships from the perspectives of INGOs, donors, CSOs, academics and governments. In Iloilo City we organised a workshop that brought together twenty aid actors to engage in focussed discussions on aid effectiveness and share experiences from having worked in and/or with international aid agencies.

We will be writing up two separate case study reports based on the findings from our research trip and follow-up research, but I want to share some of the interesting things that came up in the interviews and conversations we had.

The issue of ‘power’ in aid was one that repeatedly exercised interviewees… 

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