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Title:Elite capture or capture elites? Lessons from the 'counter-elite' and 'co-opt-elite' approaches in Bangladesh and Ghana PDF Logo
Authors:Wong, Sam
Issue Date:2010
Series/Report no.:Working paper // World Institute for Development Economics Research 2010,82
Abstract:Community-based development has been criticized for its inadequate understanding of power relationships at the local level, which thus leaves room for elite capture. This paper compares and contrasts two case studies, both of which take power seriously in their institutional designs. The solar home system in Bangladesh, represents the 'counter-elite' approach and explicitly excludes local elites from the decision-making process. The trans-boundary water governance project in Ghana, in contrast, adopts the 'co-opt-elite' approach and deliberately absorbs local elites into the water committee. This paper suggests that, while the - counter-elite - approach is not necessarily effective in challenging elite domination, because of the structural asset dependence of poor people on the elites, the 'co-opt-elite' approach risks legitimizing the authority of the elites and worsening poverty by implementing 'anti-poor' policies. This paper concludes that the success of dealing with elite capture lies in the flexible use of the 'counter-elite' and 'co-opt-elite' approaches together with the need to secure alternative livelihoods and to achieve empowerment with the poor.
Subjects:elite capture
power
poverty
community development
water management
solar lighting
JEL:Z1
O3
ISBN:978-92-9230-320-4
Document Type:Working Paper
Appears in Collections:WIDER Working Papers, United Nations University (UNU)

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