Promoting good governance in developing countries

By Erin McGuey and Martha Attridge Bufton

Democracy is a challenge for developing countries where public institutions can be unstable and services difficult to deliver. A new internship funded by the Canadian International Development Agency’s (CIDA’s) Office for Democratic Governance provides an opportunity for senior-level Canadian students, such as Carleton University’s Kevin Wyjad, to contribute to the promotion of good governance in less-developed countries.

Wyjad is in his second year of Carleton’s master’s program in international affairs. From September to December 2006, he interned with the Parliamentary Centre’s offices in Accra, Ghana, as part of the CIDA-funded Students for Development Program.

These internships partner young scholars with organizations in developing countries. Working with government agencies, civil society organizations or universities, students implement a work plan designed to support their host organization’s efforts in improving local governance.

As part of his job as a research analyst, Wyjad conducted field surveys and interviews related to governance in Ghana as it pertains to political stability, democratic processes and the climate for economic development. The experience proved to be eyeopening. “I think that there is no substitute for seeing things first-hand,” he explains. “Being in Ghana has given me a much better understanding of some of the challenges that the country faces, and what its people are doing to overcome them.”

Wyjad’s work for the Country Indicators for Foreign Policy (CIFP) governance project was instrumental to his being chosen for one of approximately 100 internships awarded in 2006. CIFP is an ongoing research initiative based at Carleton’s Norman Paterson School of International Affairs (NPSIA). The project monitors governance in “fragile” states with potentially weak public institutions and difficulty in distributing goods and services (such as education) in an effort to assist the Canadian government in the creation of effective policies for strengthening governance in third-world countries.

Professor David Carment, who teaches international affairs and is the lead CIFP investigator, is pleased that Wyjad has been able to work overseas. “Kevin gives CIFP a much-needed field presence,” he says. “We normally work with structural data and events analysis—having someone on-site has led to an enhanced methodology for evaluating fragile states that can easily be applied elsewhere.”

He also points out that internships are important because practical experience provides the most effective form of training for leadership in international affairs.

The Parliamentary Centre’s Director, Africa Programs Rasheed Draman (PhD/06) agrees. “Kevin has been actively involved in trying to understand and analyze issues of governance in Ghana. This program is a way of providing young Canadians and future policy makers with a unique opportunity to learn about Africa first hand.” Draman believes that the experience will serve students well in their future careers in the globalized world.

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