Human resources and economic development

Development Policy05 Feb 2008Joseph Semboja

I have gone through the IOB evaluation report and have one comment. A perusal of poverty and development strategies of many, if not all, African governments will show that there are no explicit strategies for growth. Many have focused on the social sectors and governance, giving targets and details on how to achieve them. However, many have not articulated the issue of growth and how to achieve it.

Often development in the social sectors is considered independent of economic growth. This partly explains why in your report Dutch aid could be linked to poverty reduction through social development but not through economic growth. This kind of separation makes social development unsustainable in the absence of donor funds. It also ignores income poverty as an important item on the policy agenda.

Experience shows that a social sector strategy cannot be separated from a growth strategy. Indeed it is the growth strategy that determines the social sector strategy, since human resources are an important input into the agreed growth strategy. That is, social development has to provide the human resources required for growth and development; otherwise as an end in itself would not make sense.

Why do I say all this? Because I think many African governments have to rethink their development strategies, and donor countries need to support this process. The evaluation report mentions that agriculture was not given attention. I think it should. But do countries have strategies for agricultural development? Do social sector policies support agricultural development? Today’s agriculture is highly knowledge, skill and innovation driven. In other words, it is driven by human resources. Our education has to be geared to this understanding.