Postdevelopment Assistance Made Possible? A qualitative analysis of the ICLD’s International Training Programmes in Tanzania from the local stakeholders’ perspective

Development is a contentious concept, praised by some for enabling progress and criticised by others for perpetuating global power imbalances. Development assistance tends to strengthen the donor-recipient dependency, which, according to critics, primarily serves the interests of the Global North while neglecting the needs of the Global South. Mainstream market-driven strategies have exacerbated inequalities in developing countries provoking the need for exploration of alternative solutions, such as those proposed by postdevelopment.

This thesis examines the possibility of integration of postdevelopment into current development programmes. It is based on the case of the International Training Programmes (ITPs) conducted in Tanzania by the Swedish International Centre for Local Democracy (ICLD) and it aims to assess if the ITP participants’ perspectives, needs, and values were considered when these programmes were conducted. By incorporating the voices of the development assistance recipients, the author endeavours to acknowledge their ownership over the development processes.

The literature review in this thesis presents the deficiencies of development practice and is followed by the presentation of the postdevelopment theory, its key aspects, critique, and prescriptions as well as possible postdevelopment scenarios. The data was gathered using qualitative semi-structured interviews with a sample of 14 ITP participants and analysed by applying the thematic analysis approach. Complementary methods, that is observations and semi-structured interviews with the ITP organisers, were used to triangulate the data. In the methodology chapter, the author also reflects on his positionality and ethical aspects.

The results show multiple aspects of development assistance from the perspective of the ITP participants and are divided into two sections, that is the applicability of the programmes and power relations. Their presentation is followed by a discussion in which the author connects the results to the theory. The findings served to present the experiences of the Tanzanians involved in the ITPs and how they relate to postdevelopment. It allowed the author to conclude whether development assistance could be compatible with the postdevelopment agenda