Thoughts On Development

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 premises of the " Projet LAG " during the project's intervention time. This project has been remodeled into the local NGO KILLE at the end of the funding period

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.

1 Comment

One thought on “Thoughts On Development

  1. Indeed, we all support the humanitarian ideal of ” Teaching people how to fish and not to just give them the fish”, and yes, “Development Aid” has become a business branch, with all it’s pro and contra’s. But it is what it is, and it’s also “Africa”.

    However, if we teach them to fish, the least we can do, is to provide access to reliable fishing rods. Or if you need a boat to catch a lot of fish, to have a reliable and maintanable boat. Otherwise the whole story becomes a sick joke…

    FairWater working fields are along these lines. We noted that thousands of people were teached to fetch water from “safe” wells. But they could not maintain these wells for a long time. As a result, many people are back to square one, or spend half their income on repairing these wells.

    Obviously, this is not what we all were looking for, so we need to do something about this. FairWater introduced a new concept, based on a sustainable business model similalar as the mobile phone in Africa. That needed no NGO to scale up, just a good business concept.

    So we provide access to a new type of better and more sustainable handpumps that need no spares to function, in a simple way.

    We hope to start soon also in Mali with the UNDP MVP project!


    Paul van Beers

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: