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close this bookIllicit Drugs and the Development Assistance Programme - Strategy paper (DFID, 1999, 18 p.)
close this folderThe response
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentLaw enforcement and interdiction
View the documentDemand reduction programmes
View the documentAlternative development
View the documentWorking with multilateral organisations
View the documentNon-governmental organisations (NGOs)

Alternative development

20 'Alternative development'2 must go much wider than crop substitution, to cover broad-based economic, social and institutional assistance to drug producers, often marginal groups of people living on marginal land. It is acknowledged that in the past narrowly focused alternative development projects have not worked because of poor design, a failure to integrate projects with farmers' livelihood strategies, inappropriate technology and poor market links. In the medium to long term, the best prospect for alternative development is pro-poor macro-economic growth which reaches (in some cases because of affirmative measures on the part of government) remote, poor areas; this should be supported by micro-level interventions (e.g. in education, information, infrastructure).

21 Donor support for alternative development can provide political support to governments trying to develop more effective anti-drugs policies (though it is important that donor support be well co-ordinated, with clear, shared objectives). Governments may be encouraged to address the issues affecting drug-producing communities described in paragraphs 7-10 above. Farmers may be prepared to trade higher incomes for increased stability and security. But alternative development must also be closely linked to a policy of interdiction which increases the risk of drug crops production, disrupts the supply chain and thus reduces the returns to the farmer.

22 Among issues to be considered in assessing alternative development projects are the following:

· Alternative development projects often have drug eradication conditionality attached to them, i.e. farmers can benefit from development assistance on condition that they reduce or eradicate drug crops. Views differ on the value of such conditionality. Farmers may reject it on the grounds that it will deprive them of a livelihood until alternative development is proven to work. Conditionality can also lead farmers to identify alternative development projects with repression. Eradication only works when it is voluntary, consensual and accompanied by real alternatives for producers.

· Alternative development projects often take place in a highly charged context involving strong political and economic interests (those of central government, farmers' organisations, drug traffickers, international governments and occasionally terrorist organisations). Such interests greatly increase the risks of alternative development projects.

· Some alternative development projects are targeted to the areas of labour supply for drug crop production, to reduce migration into the area. Such projects are often poorly targeted and limited by difficult conditions and the high degree of geographic dispersion of migrants. In order to reduce the 'balloon effect' (illicit drug cultivation being suppressed in one area only to appear in a neighbouring area) better understanding of on and off-farm needs for income generation is called for.

23 Experience has shown that it is best to work with communal institutions and local governments, rather than individual farmers. The participation of women can often be a crucial factor for success. It would be useful to explore the role which might be played by micro-credit schemes in underpinning alternative development.

24 DFID currently supports alternative development projects in Bolivia (a UNDCP/FAO agroforestry project) and Pakistan (a UNDCP rural development project) and has recently approved support for a UNDCP rural development project in Peru. Given the need for a co-ordinated donor effort, it would be sensible to continue to look for opportunities to co-finance alternative development projects through UNDCP (see paragraphs 35 - 37 below), on the basis of concerted objectives and approaches. Opportunities should be considered on a case-by-case basis, in the context of commitment by partner governments to wider pro-poor strategies.