International Targets for Poverty Reduction and Food Security: A Mildly Sceptical but Resolutely Pragmatic View with a Call for Greater Subsidiarity
'International Targets for Poverty Reduction and Food Security: A Mildly Sceptical but Resolutely Pragmatic View with a Call for Greater Subsidiarity' in Canadian Journal of Development Studies, Volume XIX, Special Issue, 1998. Reprinted in S Devereux and M Moore Nationalising the Anti-Poverty Agenda? IDSInstitute for Development Studies, Sussex Bulletin, 30:2, April 1999. Also reprinted in Currents 22, June 2000
Summary: International development targets adopted by UN Conferences provide political impetus, focus expenditure and help in monitoring progress. However, simple targets can misrepresent complex realities and distort policy. Monitoring targets can have a high opportunity cost. Political impetus can be lost if targets are over-ambitious. Food security illustrates the uses of targets and the risks involved. Simple hunger or nutrition targets have been attractive to policymakers but have been problematic conceptually, and routinely overambitious in practice. Greater subsidiarity may be the answer, with simple international targets being used as a platform for local action. Subsidiarity means more than developing national action plans to implement international targets: it is potentially more open, participatory subversive and deviant.