Exploring the Potential Impact of Women’s Empowerment on Aid Effectiveness in Nigeria

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Public Policy and Administration


William Benet


Debates about foreign aid effectiveness have been occurring for decades, with many scholars contesting that foreign aid fails to produce the anticipated outcomes because it is an exogenous force without strong collaboration and a sense of ownership by recipient partners. Nigeria is a developing country that has received international development assistance worth billions of dollars yearly for over five decades and has been at the center of these debates. In this context, this qualitative dissertation was conducted to explore the perceptions of Nigerian women who received assistance from foreign public health and nutrition programs regarding possible improvements to those programs via the inclusion of women recipients in program design and implementation. The generic qualitative study was underpinned by Benet’s polarities of democracy theory. Data were collected through semistructured interviews with 20 women who received assistance from foreign aid-funded public health and nutrition programs in five northern states of Nigeria. Additional data were collected through interview notes, peer-reviewed articles, government documents, and other relevant publications. Interview data were analyzed using thematic analysis. Six overarching findings (impact of benefits, possible improvements, perceived barriers, benefits women received, women’s perceptions, and perceived facilitators) and thirty emergent themes emerged from the study. The study’s results may have potential implications for positive social change that include important changes in public policy that might improve the effectiveness of foreign public health interventions in Nigeria, reducing maternal–child mortality rates, through the inclusion of the women recipients themselves in the design and implementation of those programs.

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