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Date: 2024-07-21 Page is: DBtxt003.php bk005S0000
Burgess Manuscript
Hundreds of Issues
From the book 'Hundreds of Issues that Impact Relief and Development'
Section SSS

Issue
SNA
Basic observation
The UN System of National Accounts (SNA) was developed by combining some economic ideas with some accounting concepts, and especially the idea of a “balance sheet”
Prevailing response
The SNA was introduced by the UN almost 50 years ago, but it has not been used widely as a way of getting better management information for the relief and development sector.
A better response
The SNA could be developed as a way of strengthening the management information dimension of the relief and development sector. It is probably possible to modify a lot of the SNA work so that it can be used as a framework for performance analysis at the community level and area level as well as at the country level.

Issue
Sanitation
Basic observation
Good sanitation is a key component of good health. Many diseases have their origin in unsanitary conditions of various sorts.
Prevailing response
There is a recognition that good sanitation is an important part of good health, but effective action to make sure that good sanitation is the norm has not been implemented. The reasons why not may perhaps be explained by the “phantom aid” phenomenon.
A better response
Community Centric Sustainable Development can address sanitation in a practical way at the community level and at modest cost. By documenting the role of sanitation in improving health and the quality of life in a community, sanitation can play a role in justifying community finance.

Issue
Savings
Basic observation
Savings are usually considered a good indicator of a strong economy.
Prevailing response
Solid consumer savings have not been a big part of the US economy, but some sort of savings are taking place in the US economy, and it is this saving that is driving the success of the economy. Two areas of appearance of savings are the home equity increases that are taking place in very leveraged housing purchases, and huge corporate profits, often by companies that have international value chains with much of the profit accruing to US stakeholders (in this case managers and stockholders).
A better response
The global economy is functioning well in part because countries like China are saving at a very high rate, and have been investing in both their local area and in the international capital markets in various ways.

Issue
Secondary education
Basic observation
Secondary education is perhaps even more important than primary education.
Prevailing response
Secondary education (as well as primary education) has grown impressively over the last thirty years. There are limits to the progress of secondary education in terms of both quality and quantity, but in absolute terms, many more children are getting significant secondary education than in years past.
A better response
The success of eduction is not going to be realized until there are matching opportunities where educated youth can be employed and do useful work. In addition to the investment in primary and secondary education, there also needs to be investment in jobs.

Issue
Secrecy
Basic observation
Secrecy is rarely a good solution
Prevailing response
Secrecy is used widely through the relief and development sector. The widespread use of secrecy makes it impossible to have effective management information and makes it possible for corruption to flourish. Accountability and transparency are impossible when there is a broad culture of secrecy.
A better response
Some activities should reasonably be secret, but not many. The word transparency has been used widely now for almost 20 years, yet secrecy and transparency cannot exist together in any meaningful way.

Issue
Securitization
Basic observation
Securitization is a critical tool in modern banking and finance.
Prevailing response
Securitization is a way for banks to convert their balance sheet assets into some for of liquidity. The techniques involve bundling similar paper assets together and then begin in a position to sell these bundles to other banks. By doing this banks are able to manage their assets and their liquidity to have the best possible earnings.
A better response
In the rich north, almost everything can be securitized in some way, and then financed. In the south, almost none of this is done, and the financing possibilities needed are just not available at the present time. This is an area where a lot of work is needed. Some work is starting with the micro finance sub-sector.

Issue
Self Help Groups
Basic observation
Self help groups (SHGs) are a common feature in micro finance
Prevailing response
A self help group (SHG) can have many forms, but broadly such a group operates to try to help the economic standard of each of its members. They tend to be self governed and follow sensible rules that the members have decided on.
A better response
The SHG is a great example of the sort of informal (or formal) local community based organization (CBO) that should be encouraged because most of what they do is value creation, and with help could be made considerably more efficient.

Issue
Seminars
Basic observation
Seminars are a very good way of sharing information, of learning and of network building.
Prevailing response
But seminars are not a modality for development on their own. Seminars have become a component of “phantom aid” and have costs but often no development value. A lot of seminars have a lot of cost associated with getting ready, researching and presentation and almost no costs with ensuring that there are valuable durable results
A better response
The ORDA accounting and accountability should not only “cost” a seminar, but also be thorough about the value being derived, if any. There should be transparency and reporting for all seminars that do not generate value more than their costs

Issue
Sex trade
Basic observation
The sex trade is big business and should not be ignored. It facilitates the spread of disease while also encouraging tourism and attracting conferences.
Prevailing response
Generally better not to spend much time thinking about this. It will go away. Ignore the terrible impact of abuse and human trafficking.
A better response
By being proactive it is possible to improve the situation substantially. Sexually transmitted diseases are a crisis and with HIV-AIDS can be lethal. Tourism is one of the biggest sources of national revenue and cannot be ignored. Make it as safe as possible. Monitor the industry so that human rights abuses are addressed.

Issue
Sex tourism
Basic observation
Sex tourism has been a big economic driver in several places.
Prevailing response
Sex tourism in Thailand is perhaps the best known, but it was a feature of the tourism sector in many places around the world for a number of years pre-AIDS. The economic benefits were considerable though the moral dimensions were questionable. In the case of Thailand, profits from sex tourism were eventually able to help investment in very many other economic activities.
A better response
The role of sex tourism in facilitating durable development has been largely ignored by the relief and development sector experts. The booming tourist business in places where sex was easily accessible made all sorts of other economic activities possible. Sex was almost totally value adding ... with the cash flow very positive and available within the local economy and providing strong multiplier effect.

Issue
Shelter
Basic observation
Shelter is a house, and in turn house is also home where a family grows. It is of huge importance in a successful society.
Prevailing response
Usually considered in a material way, with a goal of building houses, perhaps.
A better response
Shelter can be both a benefit from development and a way of progressing development. The process of building houses is also a creation of jobs, and the houses then become homes with durable value. A lot of economic success is associated with the housing sector but it is capital intensive.

Issue
Slavery
Basic observation
Slavery ought to be history, but failed economics has resulted in economic slavery for many, and greed is adding to the problem.
Prevailing response
In general local government, ORDA leadership and the corporate world downplay the scale of this problem and do little about it.
A better response
Community centric metrics will make the scale of the problem more visible, and with measurement the problem can be addressed. The solution in most cases is improved community economics

Issue
Slums
Basic observation
Slums have developed in every urban area in the world, both “north” and “south”.
Prevailing response
There are many. Ignore the problem. Bulldoze the shantytown so people move. Build low income housing projects, etc.
A better response
Understand why people live in slums. Make migration to the city and the slums a less attractive alternative by improving non-city economics and opportunities

Issue
Social security
Basic observation
A safety net for people either when old or disabled.
Prevailing response
In many places this is now “expected” from the government. In many societies it is a function provided by extended families and local community.
A better response
Community level is probably more efficient than national level. An efficient program needs to build on all the assets and capacities of all the people, and organize to use in best possible way.

Issue
Society
Basic observation
Society is more than just economics. It is something that embraces quality of life.
Prevailing response
Society is not much on the development agenda. Various themes that have an impact on society are highlighted, but not the society as a whole.
A better response
Society as a whole should be as good as it can be. This is a mix of many elements, many of which can be measured at the community level where they have meaning, and can be related to the society as a whole

Issue
Soldiers
Basic observation
Soldiers do important work in defense of values and in defense of peace
Prevailing response
But soldiers also abuse their position of power and are responsible for too much looting, violence against civilians and rape.
A better response
Soldiers are needed not only for facing down organized violence whether governmental or otherwise, but they are expensive. The use of military assets to help with emergency preparedness and also build the economy has not yet been explored to anything like the extent that it could be.

Issue
Solid waste
Basic observation
An outcome of a consumer society, typically a cost to society but not part of the cost of production or cost of use.
Prevailing response
The responsibility for solid waste has landed in the hands of the community. It is increasingly costly and more and more a burden. Recycling is expensive and inefficient.
A better response
Solid waste needs to be addressed in a systemic way by creating less of it, and also making the cost of solid waste the responsibility of producers and consumers and not society in general.

Issue
Sovereignty
Basic observation
Sovereignty is one of the international legal concepts that has helped to impoverish poor countries as well as allow almost any abuse of human rights with little or no recourse.
Prevailing response
Fifty years ago, sovereignty was a major win in relation to being “Colony”, but the actual practice of sovereignty has not resulted in great progress for most of the poor and disadvantaged in developing countries.
A better response
Human rights are recognized by the United Nations, but when a government does not respect these rights, there are no routines so that the government loses its mandate to govern and its sovereignty. An election and a vote is not enough, there also needs to be acceptable practice of human rights.

Issue
Space
Basic observation
Space is a frontier, but it is also increasingly important not only in helping to understand science, but also in terrestrial activities.
Prevailing response
Space is a costly frontier, and up to now has been done mainly by government and mainly with a military or security purpose above anything else.
A better response
But important new ideas have emerged, including the ability to have a much greater knowledge and understanding of our own planet. Imagery of the earth and the ability to communicate everywhere on the planet are made possible by space developments.

Issue
Spectrum
Basic observation
Spectrum for wireless infrastructure is essential for effective communication
Prevailing response
This is dominated by government and its regulation on the one hand and very powerful oligopolistic organizations that have an established control of the spectrum based on outdated technology
A better response
Spectrum needs to be regulated but the dialog about spectrum use should be open and decisions made in the interest of society as a whole and not just the established old order and profit maximization for a limited group of stakeholders

Issue
Spin
Basic observation
Spin has become associated as much with politics as it is with cricket and baseball.
Prevailing response
Spin is the selective use of information so that people learn what the organization wants then to learn. It is widely practiced within the political community so that the electorate is favorably inclined towards the political party and its candidates.
A better response
The possibilities of spin need to be constrained by easily accessible objective information that anyone can use. Management information does this for decision makers, and a modified dataset will provide similar information to people who are interested and would like to understand and influence political processes.

Issue
Standard costs
Basic observation
Standard costing is a powerful way of keeping track of costs without being overwhelmed with detail
Prevailing response
There is virtually no cost analysis within the ORDA world, and ideas like standard costng are essentially unknown.
A better response
Everything in relief and development should have a “standard cost” and all activities should be compared to the standard cost on a routine basis and where there are significant differences, they should be explained.

Issue
Standard value
Basic observation
The same concept that applies to costs can be also applied to values. It is a powerful way to understand variances.
Prevailing response
This is not used at all in the ORDA world, though it is a powerful analytical method for complex situations
A better response
Every output in the ORDA world should have a “standard value” and performance should be measured by reference to the total “standard value”. An ongoing dialog about what are correct “standard values” is healthy and is part of the process of optimizing performance.

Issue
Starvation
Basic observation
Starvation affects millions every year. Severe malnutrition affects children all over the “south”
Prevailing response
Nothing much gets done until the media start showing images of starving people, at which time there is emergency catch up.
A better response
Measure human development indicators at the community level and monitor them carefully. Give feedback to responsible government and ORDA organizations, the media and private philanthropic organizations.

Issue
Statistics
Basic observation
Statistics are a valuable tool to develop information and do analysis, but statistics have limitations
Prevailing response
There is a lot of use of surveys and statistics in the ORDA consulting community. The accuracy and reliability of a lot of this work is not usually challenged, but it needs to be. It is too easy to use statistics to support conclusions already made.
A better response
Statistics have a role to play, but statistical techniques should often be replaced by information collection that has more of the characteristic of “accounting” than economic statistics. Both systems working together will provide a new era of management information that can change ORDA performance significantly.

Issue
Subsidies
Basic observation
Subsidies are widespread. They have a long history of use in agriculture, but they distort the market. Many countries in the “north” have critical subsidies.
Prevailing response
There has been talk and negotiation, but the record of agreement that has meaningful benefit for the “south” is small. Many “south” economies are based on products that cannot succeed with the prevailing subsidy regime.
A better response
Subsidies distort the market because costs and prices are not related to other real economic factors. Eliminating subsidies without planning for the consequences is irresponsible, and maintaining subsidies without respecting the consequences is also irresponsible. New economic opportunities are needed in both “north” and “south” to make subsidies history.

Issue
Summit conferences
Basic observation
Summit conferences get media attention, and give top level people a platform for speech making.
Prevailing response
The durable results from summit conferences do not appear to amount to much, other than providing a perpetual platform for ongoing discussion ... that seems to be the relief and development sector's alternative to action.
A better response
The relief and development sector would be better employed using its resources to actually do something, albeit quite modest, and then use a first success as a start to replicating success and actually making real development progress. It would be a great change if leaders could point at what they have done that has been a success and how they plan to do more of it.

Issue
Surplus production
Basic observation
Surplus production is the norm in rich countries and totally absent in poor countries.
Prevailing response
The issue of surplus production is rarely, if ever, on the agenda in the relief and development sector, though it is a critical element of economic performance.
A better response
While the official relief and development assistance (ORDA) organizations do not see this as an important issue, almost every community in poor countries seems to understand the idea quite clearly and very much wants production in their community to be adequate for their needs.

Issue
Surveys
Basic observation
Surveys are a tremendous help in gaining an understanding of social and economic situations.
Prevailing response
Surveys are used very often in the relief and development sector. In many cases these data are less valuable than would have been possible using other techniques more like accounting analysis.
A better response
The rigor of good accounting systems can be applied to survey work so that better information becomes available for decision making ... surveys and other information gathering has the most value when it is part of a system and there is feedback and decision making involved.

Issue
Sustainability
Basic observation
This has become a “buzzword” in the relief and development sector.
Prevailing response
The vast majority of relief development initiatives do not have even rudimentary sustainability. The concept of sustainability is often taken to mean continuing external funding, but this is not sustainability, but merely continuing subsidy.
A better response
Sustainability analysis needs to be made central to the planning process and activities done in a way that encourages creation of durable value. The RDS needs to make far better use of management information so that better decisions are made.
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From 'HUNDREDS OF ISSUES THAT IMPACT RELIEF AND DEVELOPMENT'
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