Why we need to reframe development

Experts in the space of international development agree that defining “development” and the processes that help us do it are difficult.

For starters, one of the definitions of development is “the reduction of poverty and achievement of Millennium Development Goals.”

Doña Macedonia from Oaxaca, Mexico. Image : tlalipani.com

Other scholars and practitioners have used other definitions, but the spirit remains similar. Amartya Sen, an Economist has defined development as “freedom” and used the “capabilities approach,” to talk about development as meaning, do people have the ability, opportunities to develop fully as people?

Do they enjoy good health, opportunities to thrive?

A start-up that I have co-founded tlalipani has taken a cue from this and worked to defined development as “solidarity” and working with marginalized groups, to help them achieve their goals.

Often-times, we think of development – and the concomitant involvement of Westerners – as giving handouts or lending money (through World Bank or other large institutions- or even small ones like micro-lending programs.

We dont think of “working with” and “working together” with the marginalized.

This is the framework we are using to define development – to work with, work along and working to solve problems and grow markets, create opportunities.

This way of looking at development is non-hierarchical, rooted in equality, solidarity and respect for the “other” who we are trying to work with, not just help.

This may seem to be a small change but it is a significant shift in how we view the problem.

Do you agree?

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