Reconstruction 'From Below': a new magic bullet or shooting from the hip?

Thea Hilhorst, IK Christoplos, G Haar, van der

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29 Citations (Scopus)


This article examines an emerging approach, called 'reconstruction from below', and its growing body of practice. The article argues that interventions for post-war reconstruction increasingly espouse a commitment to be bottom-up and contextually relevant, to look beyond state institutions, and to provide space for local ownership. The article traces the emergence of this approach to six factors present in international policy. It then examines the growing body of practice in the domains of livelihoods, institution building and basic service provision. It concludes that this approach is not the magic bullet that agencies seem to expect. Reconstruction from below rests on many untested assumptions. Programmes formed pursuant to these notions are often poorly adapted to the challenges encountered and hampered by mistrust of the local institutions to which this approach rhetorically entrusts reconstruction. The large and growing body of evolving experience suggests that it is time to take stock and learn lessons about how reconstruction from below functions in practice
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)1107-1124
Number of pages18
JournalThird World Quarterly
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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