We Teach Them How To Fish !
The thoughts and sentiments on Development aid and Development Projects expressed here reflect only my personal and very subjective opinion.
The leading thought and brain-child of the West that has dominated International Development Work during the last 2 decades is ” Sustainable Development “.
Translated into non-development slang this would mean people assist people in finding their own solutions to their problems but are assisted financially and in terms of knowledge and training along the way, by always taking into consideration their culture, tradition and social norms that have influenced and conditioned them since childhood.
The term Sustainable Development entails the concepts of empowerment and enablement and it supposes that there is a high amount of personal engagement amd participation involved in regards to ” the target “group. Target group is a word from development terminology and is used often in Field Research.
So very simplified, can we say that people must want to be developed ? For this process to be successful both parties – the giving and the receiving end – must be aware and conscious of this process and it’s dynamics.
Or to formulate it differently: at least the target group must have been made aware of what’s to come.
Sustainable Development also supposes that there is a great deal of knowledge, sensitivity and maturity within the ones who are supposed to be the assisting the process – the Development Workers, Field Workers, Coordinators, Experts, Peace Corps and other Volunteers.
In a very large context it could be compared to the South African word ” Ubuntu “. Ubuntu means people are people through other people. It is comparable to the Christian ideal of ” Teaching people how to fish and not to just give them the fish” . This is the great ideal of humanity itself .
What is unfortunate is, that around this great ideal and it’s translation into action, a whole ” Development Culture” has developed over the years. Development in third world contries has become something like a business branch.
It is just extremely difficult to catch a fish. Even for experienced fishermen.