Indonesia’s Aid Messaging: Recommendations from Discourse Analysis

Abstract

Development aid always sends a message a development problem(s) that it wishes to  solve. Using discourse analysis and interviews, this paper attempts to clarify which problem(s) Indonesia wants to address with its South-South and triangular cooperation and finds a lack of them. Instead, messages found in the communication of Indonesia’s aid are diplomatic, supported by the principles of demand-driven, solidarity, and ownership. The lack of indication of development objects and expected aid quality combined with an emphasis on these principles may lead policymakers and aid practitioners to prioritize the maintenance of good relationships with recipients and donor partners over actual development impact. This paper illustrates this tendency through the case of Strengthening Gender Mainstreaming JEL Classification: F50; O22; Z13 Keywords (SGM), a triangular program conducted with USAID and Fiji. Despite drastic change in design and a brief tension among the stakeholders, SGM was “successfully” conducted. Vague messaging on program goals contributed to this “success” as preservation of good relationships and attainment of direct diplomatic objectives were more important. Taking the new regulations on business process into account, the paper concludes with policy recommendations.

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