The results are usually disaster on all fronts including family subsistence, local economics, the type of food production that feeds local people, out of control urbanisation and imbalance in current account deficits and reliance on aid . There are many critiques of the green revolution that detail the devastation wrought by these kinds of broad brush policies.
Most of the time, the problem being "fixed" has been created by a colonial history in the first place!
Here's a good news story turning that around. In Rajahstan, the traditional methods of rain harvesting fell out of use with British colonial rule, since then the land has turned to desert. Enter the "Water Ghandi". Rajendra Singh went to Rajastan to set up medical clinics. The people told him that what they needed was water. He listened. He looked into the past. He re-learnt and re-taught the techniques of natural dams which for thousands of years had made the monsoon rains last all year long and which broke the cycle of flood and drought. Now, not only do the farmers have flourishing crops, but the local ecosystems have rejuvenated and species locally on the brink of extinction, such as the iconic peacock, have made a come back.
What I like about this story is that:
- The local people knew what they needed and what their priorities were. Someone else deciding what needed to be fixed probably would not have identified water as the primary issue
- The problem was not solved with expensive imported pipelines and schemes with overseas engineers
- The problem was solved with local knowledge and local materials
- The solution is ecologically and culturally appropriate to the specific people and place in which it is being adopted
- The dams are able to be built locally with the right know-how, which is produced and re-produced by teaching and re-teaching