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close this bookUsed Clothes as Development Aid: The Political Economy of Rags (SIDA)
close this folderPart III: Summary and policy recommendations
View the documentSummary
View the documentPolicy recommendations

Policy recommendations

Thus we recommend the following policies regarding Sida subsidies for NGO export of used clothes:

1. In general, no subsidies should be given for export of used clothes, particularly if the clothes are to be sold on the market. If the organizations or projects which would have benefited financially are judged worthy of support, such support should be given directly.

2. In the case of targeting particular population groups - "the poorest of the poor" - more effective, better-targeted projects should be encouraged.

a. NGOs should be encouraged to sell their surplus used-clothes stocks into the commercial "rag merchant" network - as is widely done in most other industrial countries.

b. The proceeds, plus whatever subsidies Sida might have given for used-clothes exports, should be devoted to projects.

3. In catastrophe situations, freight subsidies for used-clothes exports should be given only as a last resort - if no better and more immediate source of supply is available. NGOs should be encouraged to find supplies as close to the scene as possible; the use of cheap new clothes should be explored for this purpose.

4. In any cases in which subsidies for used-clothes exports are given, plans should be scrutinized, and results monitored, with the following questions in mind:

a. In catastrophe situations, how has it been ascertained that local production and other closer sources are insufficient to meet the need?

b. Have other alternatives been explored - such as importing from neighboring countries, commercial imports of used clothes, etc.?

c. If used-clothes are to be used for project aid with "the poorest of the poor", how are the target groups to be selected? How will distribution be monitored to be sure that they are in fact the recipients?

d. How has it been determined that they in fact have no presence in the market?

e. How were their needs ascertained? Is their highest priority used clothes? Or, for example, would they rather have the cash? If so, is there any other project possible - perhaps an income-generating project - which could more effectively use the financial resources and volunteer effort available?

f. How will the clothes be sorted to make sure that they match local needs?

g. Will the recipients be monitored to discover if there is any resale activity?

5. Any changes from current policy should be made in a carefully planned manner, so as not to lose the benefits which undoubtedly do accrue from subsidized charitable exports of used clothes, and which might be lost without compensating gains if policy changes are made precipitously.