Ireland’s new Development Policy – A word count analysis

08/05/2013 at 4:10 pm 1 comment

On 2 May, the Irish Government published its new Policy on International Development.

The paper is the result of a wide-ranging review process, aimed at updating the 2006 White Paper on Irish Aid, which formed the basis for Ireland’s development cooperation programme. During the review process, some 165 submissions were received, and over 100 meetings took place.

You can read the submissions from Dóchas members and other NGOs here, and Dóchas’ initial response to the new Policy here. (More resources at the bottom of this article)

Clearly, more analysis of the new Policy is needed, but we have already done a quick word count of the new paper. Though not a proven scientific method for policy analysis, word counts do give some indication of the extent to which certain issues are addressed within a document.

In the table below, we compare the relative frequency of use of some key words, in both the 2006 White Paper and the 2013 Development Policy.

The 2006 paper was a good bit bigger, at 37,000 words compared to 15,000 words for the 2013 version. Therefore, if a word was used, say, 30 times in 2006, it would carry less of a relative weight than if that same words was used 30 times in the 2013 paper. In our figures, we have compensated for these differences, and this quick analysis shows a few interesting trends:

Word

No. of references in 2006

(out of 37,524 words)

No. of references in 2013

(out of 15,522 words)

Ratio Increase

2013 / 2006

Poverty

90

62

67%

Humanitarian /

Emergency

62

24

21

2

-18%

-80%

Partnership

53

31

41%

Human rights

53

48

119%

Security

52

17

-21%

Governance &

Corruption

42

27

14

9

-19%

-19%

Civil society

47

9

-54%

Private sector

43

8

-55%

NGOs

43

13

-27%

HIV/AIDS

41

7

-59%

Trade

41

37

118%

Volunteer

32

12

-9%

Gender

32

21

59%

Environment

32

25

89%

Coherence

30

9

-27%

Multilateral/Multilateralism

29

11

-8%

Research

23

9

-5%

Evaluation

19

5

-36%

World Bank

IMF

14

6

4

0

-31%

-100%

Principles

21

7

-19%

MDGs

21

10

15%

Training

14

2

-65

(Economic) growth

12

30

504%

Consultation

11

14

208%

Development education

8

11

232%

0.7%

7

4

38%

Dialogue

5

0

-100%

Transparency

3

14

1028%

Disability

7

8

176%

Learning

2

7

746%

Evidence

0

7

Impact

40

24

45%

Obviously, the results need to be taken with a few doses of salt, as the frequency of word use does not mean that the topic is prioritised more. However, the table above does illustrate nicely that there are a few new words that have come into “development speak” since 2006. Particularly the increased emphasis on Learning, Transparency and Impact are of interest, as is the much greater emphasis on economic growth. On the other hand, HIV & AIDS seems to be on the way out.

Our analysis of the new Development Policy is still under way, and we would welcome your comments and observations on the paper.

Do have a read of the new Policy, and watch the short animated video.

And then send us your comments!

Further reading:

(Click here to see exclusive footage of Dóchas staff writing the above article)

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European NGOs set out their vision of a new approach to tackling poverty Dóchas staff, writing blog posts…

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