Development framework in the context of the current global crisis

The world today is experiencing a worst economic crisis since the 1930s. The processes and the current reach of globalization has made it more intense and far reaching than the great depression of 1939.

Globalization has opened up the economies of almost all countries which made the almost free flowing movements of goods and services in terms of exports and imports.

The policies and processes of globalization have affected almost all aspects of lives of people in the world. Theoretically, it seems that all the countries and peoples who have joined the global world have been treated equally and fairly. In reality, only the poor and developing countries have faithfully opened up their economies while the rich and developed countries have always found justification to protect their own markets and their peoples. The governments of the former have been trying to scratch from their already dwindling resources to build and put up the safety nets for the affected sections of their population while the latter have adequately provided the affected section of their population with safety nets thru subsidies. So while farmers of the poor and developing countries like the Philippines are getting almost nothing in terms of the government subsidies its counterpart in the rich and developed countries have been adequately provided subsidies by their governments.

Hence, it is not surprising to see that the economies like that of the Philippines have been already affected with mal-development and perpetual trade deficits long before the world have experienced the current crisis.

Such situation has been highlighted by the different cycles or phases of economic development in the framework of globalization (boom and bust). A case in point here is the food crisis in 2008.

The Philippines which economy is mainly agriculture, has been a rice exporting country in the early 70’s. At present, it has become the biggest rice importing country in the world. The Philippine farmers can not simply cope up with the other countries which have flooded the local market with agricultural products including rice. Globalization has made situation such as producing rice much expensive than importing rice. The farmers in these poor countries have to face the continuous increase of the prices of inputs like the fertilizers, pesticides and other chemicals and continue to reap a declining output. Small farmers and their kind are simply vanishing in these countries.

The Structural Adjustment Program imposed by financial institutions like the World Bank (WB) and International Monitoring Fund (IMF) which structured the Philippine economy into export oriented and import dependent has been paving the way for making the situation even worst by the processes and policies of the current globalization. It (Philippines) has completely opened up its economy to the global market where its semi-product and raw (agricultural and aquatic materials and other raw materials) are sold in the world market in a very cheap bargain while buying finished products from other countries in ever increasing prices.

At present, the Philippines is very dependent on its export of human resources – the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) whose monthly and annual remittances have made afloat the country’s economy.

But this is not without social costs which is immeasurable. Families and social relationship have been affected by long absences of key members of the families. And what is even worst today is that, the OFWs has been one of the first hit by the current crisis of globalization. The countries like the US and Asian tigers have been experiencing economic difficulties and have to forego their domestic workers (big percentage of the labor force are found in this field of employment) and thousands of OFWs have lost income and start going home to become unemployed. But most importantly the remittances sent home by the OFWs have not created situation where a real economy is developed that is, the monies sent by OFWs could have produced commodities which can create added value and can create domestic employment and more income and help in creating a vibrant economy.

So while the world, especially the most advance and developed countries have already hit the bottom of their economic crisis, countries like the Philippines have just started to go down steeply. It seems that those countries that have opened up their economies to globalization have been hit seriously and will take time to recover. And those countries which have applied some kind of regulation to their entrance to globalization have slightly suffered from the crisis or have been less affected.

This kind of situation has challenged people like myself to study and learned further about the impact of globalization to a country like the Philippines because it will make us understand the unfolding trends of the international development institutions and organizations and the manner they interact with development institutions and organizations in the Philippines. Studying and learning from these dynamics can help us put into proper perspectives our goals and our programs. From this starting point we can even formulate our own development paradigm where we can appreciate the dialectical relations of the internal and the domestic stakeholders in our development works. We can even define our complimentary relationship with the different government instrumentalities where we can clearly maintain our integrity as part of the civil society with different role from the government but with clear common denominator of building a nation. Such framework will always put us in a proper perspective that our works can never substitute for the government’s obligation and works with its different agencies and institutions with the people. We can clearly develop our complimentary roles with the government by helping in the capacitation and strengthening of the democratic institutions and empowerment of the people and in effect helping the government to be effective in its services.
This work can only be possible if our development model is sustainable, integrated and transformational.

A sustainable model is based on the understanding of programs which can answer not only the needs of the present generation but even beyond and therefore requirements which are needed to fulfill the programs always give due considerations to the development of materials and resources beyond the stated short term goals. Methods and strategies use in such framework are those easily available and can be harnessed locally. Those coming from the experiences of people especially the best practices from other countries can be learned upon but the actual application of the principles and methods are based on the local situation and dynamics. International resources including finances can help in the starting stage or phase of the programs but only on the considerations that they can help develop and improve the local and domestic resources. Dependency on these resources is anathema on the element of sustainability. The use of appropriate technology in the implementation of programs is inseparable to the principle of sustainability. Local resources and capacities are developed and enhanced by learning from proven theories and practices and not the other way around where the local resources and capacities are made to tailor fit the theories and practices of other countries. The direction of a sustainable program is first and foremost answer the domestic needs of the people and the market later hence the development of such project is firmly based on such priority. Hence, program like sustainable agriculture is to immediately answer the food requirements of the people in the areas and ultimately to reach a situation of food sovereignty of the country. A program can and only can be sustainable if it will be gendered balance and any semblance of patriarchal orientation and practices is totally removed. The women have comprised more than 50% of the population not only in the Philippines but in almost all countries in the world and therefore they should be part of any program from the beginning to the end of any program. They have a vital role in preparing and nurturing of the next generation. A sustainable program is generational. And the program is truly sustainable if it is and will be environmentally not only friendly and balance but integrative. Answering the needs of the present generation can not justify using or utilizing the environment in anyway people can and especially if it will cause the destruction of the resources for the next generation.

With the principle of sustainability is also an integrative aspect which means that in order to be effective and holistic in our development works it should inclusive in methods and in programs. Sustainable agriculture is not only developing farming methods and using appropriate technology in farming in order to lessen the farm inputs and increase farm outputs but also include other aspects of development works. Health program for instance can be introduced in order to increase the awareness of the people in the community about the basics on health in order to prevent the occurrence of even the common deceases. Continuing education and awareness raising aspects should be included in the program in order to strengthen and raise the organizational capacity of the farmers’ organizations and the spirits of collectiveness in common endeavor. It is very important to always link the local issues confronted by the farmers to the national and the international contexts. In the country like the Philippines where 70% of the people are dependent on agriculture for their livelihood many of them as farmers almost 85% of them do not own the land they till and therefore with the program of sustainable agriculture is the aspects of advocacy and lobby works. Concretely this means that farmers and their peoples’ organizations should continue to lobby, advocate and campaign for genuine land reforms in order to sustain agricultural developments. The aspects of linkages or solidarity works play a very important role in the achieving sustainable growth in Agriculture especially in the current context of globalization. Skills can be developed and sharpened in order for the farmers to establish and strengthen linkages with other farmers in other parts of the globe so that aside from learning from each other they can have common projects on common interests like in the distribution and marketing of their products without big and unreasonable profits.

Lastly, the development framework can be sustainable if it is transformational. This means that the communities have acknowledged their poverty situation but through their active participation and sharpening of skills they are able to change their communities into better place to live in. The efforts are always collective in spirits and in deeds and the people in the communities have identified themselves with the changes. Stakeholdership and ownership of the community programs are the main characteristics of transformational development framework. The people have worked on to realize the change they strongly believe in and that from the situation of hopelessness they have transformed it to a situation of fullness of hope and real gains, from poverty into plenty and from passive into active makers of their future.

The developing and poor countries like the Philippines can survive the crisis of brought about by globalization by reviewing and reformulating the development framework it has been using. Rethinking and major refocusing should be done in terms of priorities and actualizations of possibilities. Balance should be made between the demands of the international markets and the domestic needs. Political will of the leaders should be harnessed rather than the will to enrich the few.

The development institution and organizations can share their skills and expertise in development works by crafting development framework which is sustainable, integrative and transformational together with all the stakeholders in the country.

By: Eulit F. Torres, TRIPOD Foundation, Inc.
July 2009


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