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Why Governments Waste Natural Resources: Policy Failures in Developing Countries Paperback – July 1, 1999

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Argues persuasively that policymakers too often have sought objectives that they knew their finance ministries, their publics, and even the international community would oppose if pursued directly through the national budget." -- Foreign Affairs

About the Author

William Ascher is a professor and director of the Center for International Development Research at the Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy at Duke University. He is the author of Natural Resource Policymaking in Developing Countries and Communities and Sustainable Forestry in Developing Countries.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press (July 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801860962
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801860966
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #555,866 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By E. N. Anderson VINE VOICE on November 6, 1999
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Anyone interested in conservation or resource use should have this book. It is the first book I have seen that actually tells in detail how bad resource use decisions are made in Third World countries. I picked it up with a sense of "ho hum--another book on resource econ--I bet I know it all already." I did know most of what Ascher says, but I hung on every word anyway, because what he does with the info is so original and incisive. He provides many case studies of resource management failures. I have worked in many of the countries involved, and can testify to the accuracy and insight of the accounts (though he does pull a few punches). There are some problems. The worst is that he confines his attention to Third World countries, even when they are just doing what First World countries told them. His discussion of Mexico's disastrous irrigation policy, for instance, does not include the fact that Mexico was copying the US, and with US advice. Mexico was a fine student--managed to wreck the land, water, and small-farm economy as badly as the US has! (Ascher might have compared Charles Wilkinson's BEYOND THE LAST MERIDIAN to the Mexico case.) Brazil's disastrous "development" of the Amazon was also inspired by US example (the "winning of the west"--Indian genocide and all). In short, Ascher has put his finger on general processes of resource devastation, not "Third World" ones. This being said--this is an essential book for conservationists and resource economists.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I made a tiny research on why are the reforestation governmental programs failing in Southeast Mexico, where rainforest restoration would be a plausible profitable activity. I looked for conceptual bases here and there and Ascher's book was definetely one of the most useful sources I found. It explains clearly why resource management fails when looked from the implementation of policies logic, with strong conceptual basis. The role of policies is accentuated and it manages to make the reader understand few things can be done if there is not a clear political line behind resource management. Several examples illustrate both successful and failure cases, in diverse ecosystems. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in understanding, at different levels, why the world's biodiversity is apparently lost without remedy.

Happy reading!

Ximena
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