DAY 20 – Opinions and Perceptions versus facts.

DAY 20 – Opinions and Perceptions versus facts.

Bolivian meeting.

Bolivian meeting.

On day 16-18, I presented a compilation of different responses I received over the past months from a multitude of people working on different areas of food production in Bolivia.  This was done to create a perception of how and where the county is in general in its approach to a possible food crisis.  The is information was gleaned via informal interviews and casual conversations with many people.  Since it was not a direct part of my official research on the wellbeing of women quinoa growers, it was not conducted in a strict academic or journalistic setting with fact checks, researched, verifiable data, etc.  It was presented more as a mulling over – and perhaps something for more in-depth academic or journalistic research in the future. I did not publish the names of my informants nor quote them because our conversations were more informal.

As with any moment of casual conversation, there were some inconsistencies and generalizations in how some folks remembered or understood the current conditions here in Bolivia – the biggest one being the answer to the mystery: Where did all of the NGOs and foreign development programs in Bolivia go?  Contrary to popular belief that the Evo Administration kicked them all out (as was my personal experience working with the US Peace Corps when they were banned – and still are – from the country) – my friend, colleague and fellow Bolivian scholar, Linda Farthing, points out the decline was in fact largely the result of Bolivia’s recent positive economic growth which lifted it off the World Bank’s list of nations most in need of assistance.  Though some NGOs such as the Danish IBIS, and US USAID and Peace Corps programs were banned by Morales, many NGOs, explained Farthing, simply saw more need (and funding) for programs in Africa. So they closed their Bolivia programs to attend to other countries with lesser economic growth and greater need.

Interesting!  Big thanks to Linda for clarifying this.

I see the holes that these NGO programs once filled – though I also see community organizing and ownership filling them in as well.  It would be interested to learn more about the aftermath of development when progress calls and one’s poverty is no longer fashionable (nor fundable).   Ideas of self-determination and empowerment arise as one thinks of the cycle of dependency that charity can build. Good fodder for a future paper on the aftermath of development.

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