Is it time to 'decolonise' the fungibility debate?
SourceThird World Quarterly, 41, 1, (2020), pp. 42-57
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ RSCR CAOS
Third World Quarterly
SubjectAnthropology and Development Studies
Recent literature has established that development assistance is often fungible and that this is undesirable. In line with current efforts to 'decolonise development studies', we critically reflect on the underlying assumptions of this line of thinking. We establish a framework that differentiates between potential positive and negative fungibility. We hypothesise that recipient governments can redirect their own funds and achieve positive fungibility, if (1) the marginal value added in the alternative target sector/region is higher; (2) equity concerns are adequately addressed when other sectors/regions are supported; and (3) temporal delay helps to cushion instability of aid flows. There are indications that this positive fungibility might be quite prevalent. Future fungibility research should therefore no longer assume that fungibility is in itself undesirable.
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