Countries of the global south must constantly respond to development prescriptions from donor organizations. In this paper, I develop a spectrum of response to these prescriptions that applies to key actors at the country level—national leaders, technocratic elites, and social groups—and ranges from acceptance to negotiation to rejection. The interplay of these responses in conjunction with the social, economic, and political context drives the overall response to, and impact of, development prescriptions. To illustrate this process I use the case of population policy in Nigeria, where a technocratic elite led by a charismatic minister of health accepted the policy largely on its own merits; national leaders negotiated the policy so it facilitated state-society relations, promoted nationalism, deflected blame for economic woes, and represented commitment to political restructuring; and the representatives of social groups rejected the policy. Donor pressure served as a backdrop to the whole process. Parsing country responses to development prescriptions in this manner explains why Nigeria, a country with pronatalist citizens and in which population was highly politicized, adopted a policy aiming to limit fertility. It also demonstrates that different actors within countries of the global south use development prescriptions as opportunities to achieve locally important goals. To make these arguments, I draw on rich primary data from key informants and Nigerian government documents. Ultimately, the rejection of the policy by women’s organizations and religious groups, combined with financial duress, political chaos, and continued high desired fertility, prevented the policy from strongly influencing contraceptive provision or fertility.
Population Research and Policy Review – Springer Journals
Published: Nov 29, 2011
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