New forms of development: branding innovative ideas and bidding for foreign aid in the maternal and child health service in Nepal

Radha Adhikari*, Pam Smith, Jeevan Raj Sharma, Obindra Bahadur Chand

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
7 Downloads (Pure)


Nepal has been receiving foreign aid since the early 1950s. Currently, the country’s health care system is heavily dependent on aid, even for the provision of basic health services to its people. Globally, the mechanism for the dispersal of foreign aid is becoming increasingly complex. Numerous stakeholders are involved at various levels: donors, intermediary organisations, project-implementing partners and the beneficiaries, engaging not only in Nepal but also globally. To illustrate how branding and bidding occurs, and to discuss how this process has become increasingly vital in securing foreign aid to run MCH activities in Nepal.

This paper is based on a qualitative study. The data collection method includes Key Informant Interviews, the review of relevant policy documents and secondary data, and finally field observation visits to four maternal and child health (MCH) projects, currently funded by foreign aid. Through these methods we planned to gain a comprehensive understanding of the aid dispersing mechanism, and the aid-securing strategies, used by organisations seeking funds to provide MCH services in Nepal.

Study findings suggest that foreign aid for the provision of MCH services in Nepal is channeled increasingly to its beneficiaries, not through the Government system, but rather via various intermediary organisations, employing branding and bidding processes. These organisations adapt commercial models, seeking to justify their ‘cost-effectiveness’. They argue that they are ‘yielding good value for money’, with short-term target oriented projects. This ethos is evident throughout the aid dispersing chain. Organisations use innovative ideas and intervention packages, branded internationally and nationally, and employ the appropriate language of commerce in their bid to secure funds. The paper raises an important question as to whether the current mechanisms of channeling foreign aid in the MCH sector, via intermediary organisations, can actually be cost-effective, given the complex bureaucratic processes involved.

The study findings are very important, for Nepal’s development in particular, and for international development in general. The paper concludes by recommending strongly that foreign aid should concentrate on supporting and strengthening the national government system. Complex bureaucratic process must be minimised and streamlined in order to provide quality care to the beneficiaries.
Original languageEnglish
Article number33
Number of pages12
JournalGlobalization and Health
Publication statusPublished - 27 Mar 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • foreign aid
  • maternal and child health
  • intermediary organisations
  • low-income countries
  • Nepal
  • health service development


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