Many of us are wondering about the future, or even the prospects for survival of our sector. Myself included!
There is so much doom and gloom about this in our sector that I’m starting to have some contrarian thoughts. For example, one of the fundamental drivers of the creation of INGOs is human compassion. Even if solidarity is under pressure because of the economic stresses faced by people around the world – and the unsustainable levels of economic inequality that we see now – human compassion is likely to still be a strong driver of behaviour. People will still want to accompany those less fortunate. So the work that INGOs will still serve as a vehicle for human compassion…
Of course, the way that INGOs work must change, because the context has changed dramatically. In that light, one of the highlights of the recent ACFID Universities Network conference in Sydney late last year was the keynote address by Enrique Mendizabal. He argues that, in today’s world, studying “development” is much less useful that studying technical areas such as public health, or education policy, or engineering. In other words, what development countries need now is to learn from successes (and failures) in Australia and Europe, etc., rather than more general “development assistance” as such.
Very interesting point of view, which I can see much merit in. What might be missing here is a sense of the politics, and the political economy, of development: if development assistance were to be only focused on technical, sectoral support, does that mean that development becomes apolitical?
No matter. Enrique’s provocative, insightful, entertaining, and highly recommended notes are here.