Dialogue in development
: an analysis of theory and practice of aid projects using a case study from West Timor, Indonesia

  • Wendy Valerie Asche

    Student thesis: Masters by Research - CDU


    This thesis examines the interaction between donor and recipient in development projects, at the implementation stage. It will be argued that the best outcome for both donor and recipient follows from a dynamic, interactive dialogue between both parties. A case study situated in Matabesi, a village in West Timor, Indonesia, is used to support the argument. 

    The case study centres on a weaving project initiated by a local non-government organisation (NGO) that aims to improve the access to a market able to provide relatively good monetary returns for weavers wishing to sell their textiles. One indication of the success of this project so far is evident in the weavers' choice to participate in the marketing of cloth available through the NGO. The villagers' choice must be seen in the context of alternative strategies for earning cash. Both the village as a whole and individual weavers make contingent judgements about weaving and selling cloth. This is demonstrated by comparison with weaving production in other areas of eastern Indonesia and differing rates of participation in the project by weavers in Matabesi itself. 

    In considering why the project has been accepted by the villagers, an understanding of the context of weaving in the socio-economic sphere is necessary. A description of the economic environment is given which shows the villagers are subsistence agriculturalists drawing on a variety of resources. However, there is increasing pressure to earn cash because of government exigency and environmental degradation which is diminishing the arable land. Villagers acquire cash through a number of means, including the sale of cloth.

    It is demonstrated that textiles have an essential place within the cultural system of the villagers. This is important for the project because, even when used in commodity exchange, non-economic factors such as expression of identity, cannot be ignored. I will argue that a contributory factor in the project's success comes from the fact that the implementing agent in this case is a non-government organisation specifically identified with the recipient's identity.
    Date of Award1995
    Original languageEnglish

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