Accepted paper:

Locating South-South Cooperation in the history of development practice and its impact in projects' processes: the cotton sector of Benin as case study


Alvaro Moreira (University of Sussex)

Paper short abstract:

The Beninese cotton sector hosted tens of projects since the 1960s, but Southern providers are newcomers in this field. This paper explores to what extent South-South Cooperation, from its place in history, is being transformed and is transforming development practice from the partner's perspective.

Paper long abstract:

Southern providers of development cooperation considerably increased their presence in the field since the 2000s, bringing new practices and social interaction patterns to partner countries. However, these projects are implemented in contexts that have developed an organisational culture for dealing with foreign interventions. This paper provides an analysis using partner countries' perspectives and locating Southern projects in the history of development practice: how does their place in history shape projects' processes? Development cooperation programmes are the product and producers of a history of foreign interventions. Hence, a deeper understanding of development cooperation processes implies a shift of perspective: from donors and providers' to the partner countries' history, experiences and temporalities, thus going beyond the limited timeframes of development cooperation projects. This paper takes the Beninese cotton sector as a case study, where cotton is the main export good and engages the whole society: from small farmers to powerful input importers, ginners, and politicians. More than 30 projects have been implemented in this sector since the 1960s. However, Southern projects in the cotton development history appear only from the 2000s. At that moment, Beninese actors had already developed an organisational culture and strategies for engaging in development cooperation initiatives, that affect the ability of Southern providers to re-invent and reshape long grown patterns. For instance, partner's expectations, construed by previous North-South experiences, confront and undermine Southern principles and approaches. But this confrontation of cooperation models might as well result, through unexpected ways, in further ownership and sustainability of project outcomes.

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