From Aid to Trade:Dutch Official Development Assistance in Ghana’s Agricultural Sector affecting Land Degradation and Food Security
Hoeven, S.E. van der
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This thesis shows that the neoliberal discourse and the idea of sustainable development both influence (international) development strategies. The Netherlands focuses in its development cooperation policy considering Ghana both on sustainability, food security, and the modernisation of agriculture by increasing Dutch direct investments in and trade relationships with Ghana (Dutch Embassy, 2014) – the latter potentially resulting in land degradation and other environmental problems (Gonzales, 2004). Therefore, the following research question is tackled in this thesis: How does Dutch Official Development Assistance (DODA) in the agricultural sector in Ghana affect land degradation and food security? The analysis of the interviews shows the different viewpoint of the four categories on the eight topics related to DODA, land degradation, and food security. It demonstrates that most views are influenced by both the idea of sustainable development and the neoliberal discourse. The idea of sustainable development is specifically important in the non-profit sector but is also visible, yet less explicit, throughout the other categories through adaptation and mitigation measures. Neoliberal ideas, such as PPP creation, a focus on economic growth, and increased trade, come to the fore in all four categories. The growing adoption of sustainability strategies and visions indicate that the sustainable development discourse is becoming more important. The results demonstrate, furthermore, that food security is explicitly important when looking at development strategies for all categories. In contrast, climate change and land degradation are only made explicit in strategies and programmes in the non-profit sector. The other categories do take into account climate change challenges and land degradation through conducting, for example, environmental impact assessments and evaluating programmes by sustainability criteria. However, in Dutch policy it is not made explicit like the food security objective. It is neither taken into account by all actors in the private sector. Finally, the interviewees have not linked the topic of land degradation explicitly to the issue of food insecurity. This shows that an integration of the two problems does not exist yet. This thesis concludes that food security and land degradation are both positively and negatively affected by DODA. DODA is highly affected by the idea of sustainable development which is interwoven in many of the activities in the sector. However, it is still mostly influenced by neoliberal ideas, for example, the process of globalisation and ideas from the Green Revolution. So, both discourses have become visible in Dutch policy, providing a hybrid form. This is interesting because Gawor (2007) sees the idea of sustainable development as an alternative to neoliberalism. Further developments are dependent on which discourse will dominate and, thus, where the focus will lay in the future. The international adoption of the SDGs shows the growing importance of sustainability thinking, indicating that in the future this will be reflected in DODA as well. As for adaptation and mitigation, the necessity remains that these two strategies will be adopted integratively on both the local/regional and international levels. Currently, through several projects adaptation and mitigation strategies have already been adopted. However, there has been no acknowledgement on the fact that these can nullify the effects of one another. In all, these results provide an overview that can be used by the Dutch Embassy in Ghana. It is important to take on an integrated approach on the issues of land degradation (climate change) and food security and poverty as these have a high degree of interrelation.