Friday, March 25, 2011

"Development "

Aid on the edge posted a little satirical cartoon that made me reflect on the value of "development" as we do it these days.

But that is only one side of the coin:

A friend once told me that he worked in development in Africa, and admitted to forcing a Western idea of education into a local village many years ago. The contemporary wisdom is that one should rather embrace indigenous knowledge systems and community structures. When he went back many years later, he wanted to "repent" of his youthful folly.

When he got there, there wasn't much left of the village. Sadly climate change has wreaked havoc and the village's agricultural lifestyle could not longer be sustained. If it wasn't for the "out of place" education initiative that my friend started many years earlier, there would have been no livelihood for the villagers. At least the kids who got educated, got out. They were now earning a living in another way, sending back some money.

I'm not suggesting that forcing education was the right thing to do, but we can also not blame the education and local development for climate change that is happening on a global scale and would have had an effect irrespective of whether development came to that corner of Africa or not.

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