Does Deference Enable Elite Capture?
Evidence from a World Bank Community-Based Project in Ghana
The contribution of ‘development brokers’ to the creation of elite capture is not well represented in the community development literature. We attempt to fill this gap by presenting findings from a doctoral research in Ghana on the World Bank’s Community-Based Rural Development Projects (CBRDP), implemented between 2005 and 2011. We present the findings of research from the Eastern Region of Ghana and document how a Traditional Chief inadvertently ‘captured’ a local school project that was to be maintained by an entire ‘community’. We found residents of the locality to be apathetic to the upkeep of the project, emanating mainly from their Traditional Chief’s ‘benevolent’ capture of the initiative. Through an attitude of deference to the Traditional Chief, relevant CBRDP officers were also found to have been biased in monitoring the project, resulting in its failure. The paper suggests that community participation and engagement is more important than co-opting elites to manage community-based programs.