This article critically examines the effects of global development paradigms on the local level. Familiar examples of these ‘buzzwords’, are ‘empowerment’, ‘participation’, ‘capacity building’, ‘good governance’ and ‘sustainable development’. The article presents the findings of a highly exceptional, but therefore very suitable case: a community-based forestry project in the Mafungautsi State Forest in Zimbabwe. This project used the same buzzwords throughout its two phases from 1994 to 1999 and from 1999 to 2003, but with remarkably different outcomes per phase. Only when the first donor left in 1999 due to Zimbabwe becoming an international pariah, was there space for another donor to reconceptualise the same buzzwords on different premises, leading to more positive outcomes. The paper concludes that, although rare in today’s donor driven target culture, locally appropriate and critical operationalisation of buzzwords is possible even if, or perhaps when, it takes place under unthinkable circumstances.

global development buzzwords
dx.doi.org/10.1080/03768350701650512, hdl.handle.net/1765/21664
ISS Staff Group 4: Rural Development, Environment and Population
Development Southern Africa
Includes Accepted Manuscript
International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University (ISS)

Büscher, B.E, & Mutimukuru, T. (2007). Buzzing too far? The ideological echo of global governance concepts on the local level: the case of the Mafungautsi Forest in Zimbabwe. Development Southern Africa, 24(5), 649–664. doi:10.1080/03768350701650512