In last week’s blog we discussed the idea that ‘poverty of the mind’ is one of the most significant obstacles preventing people and communities from breaking the long-term poverty cycle. This week, we begin to turn our attention towards solutions, among which development, or community development, is widely considered as ‘the’ way forward. But, is the goal of development about people, or is it about projects? Should projects develop the people, or should people develop the projects?
Within the development sector the above two questions cause significant division and, in my experience, the perspective that a development worker takes will often dictate the long-term success and ongoing sustainability of a development project or program.
To engage our students’ thinking on this topic, Metamorphic always starts the development component of our program with a short class exercise. Each person in the class is handed a blank piece of paper and asked to draw what the word ‘development’ means to them (no words allowed, only pictures). Invariably, many in the class draw pictures of schools, roads, hospitals, clinics and various other constructions. These pictures always lead me to ask the question:
“If these pictures represent ‘development’ and so many people have experienced so much of this type of ‘development’, then why are they still living in poverty?”
I find it fascinating that on almost all occasions, those students who draw pictures of happy, healthy, smiling and productive people are in the minority. Our Metamorphic trainers point out that none of the students’ drawings are wrong, it is just that many of the class have drawn the ‘results of development’ rather than the ‘goal of development’ itself.
When we at Metamorphic talk about the ‘goal of development’, we are always talking about PEOPLE; not projects or buildings, policies or even procedures. These things can be the results of development, but of themselves they are not development. We believe that by developing people in every area of their lives, they gain the capacity to facilitate, plan, organise and manage their own projects and build their own buildings in their own towns in a sustainable manner and using appropriate technology.
When you develop people the result is communities transformed in all areas and aspects of their lives.
When Metamorphic engage in development our goal is never a project, building, policy or procedure; rather, our goal is always PEOPLE. When Metamorphic measures development, we measure the progress that PEOPLE are making towards achieving the changes they want to see in their lives, families and communities. If we develop the people, they will develop their communities!