Pact In The News
Challenging the development paradigmJanuary 10, 2022
Historically, racism and colonization have had significant influence in the context of development. For decades, the Global North directed development initiatives without meaningful consideration or feedback from communities who were intended to “benefit” from foreign aid. The power differential within this approach has been called out as neo-colonial, leading to calls to de-colonize development. The new vision of development that USAID Administrator Samantha Power recently outlined seeks to dismantle many of the previously accepted ways of doing business.
Often, development practitioners discuss the implications of the colonial legacy on development. The idea of local versus international comes up again and again. But from a social justice perspective, we need to go further. The movement out of a neo-colonial development model must put communities at the center of our work. Administrator Power has acknowledged this and spoken at length about directing 25 percent of funding to local organizations and ensuring 50 percent of every dollar USAID spends places local communities in the lead to either co-design a project, set priorities, drive implementation or evaluate the impact of our programs.
Rather than prescribing solutions, listening for context and content must come before taking action. Focusing on root causes and on how and who we engage will always achieve more than working only to resolve surface-level symptoms.