What Is Development?

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Patricia Flynn, VSO volunteer, ELCIN, giving workshop on early infant development.

Patricia Flynn, VSO volunteer, ELCIN, giving workshop on early infant development.

Development is a complex issue, with many different and sometimes contentious definitions. A basic perspective equates development with economic growth. The United Nations Development Programme uses a more detailed definition- according to them development is ‘to lead long and healthy lives, to be knowledgeable, to have access to the resources needed for a decent standard of living and to be able to participate in the life of the community.‘ 

Achieving human development is linked to a third perspective of development which views it as freeing people from obstacles that affect their ability to develop their own lives and communities. Development, therefore, is empowerment: it is about local people taking control of their own lives, expressing their own demands and finding their own solutions to their problems.


Why learn about Development?

Volunteers travel to developing countries to work on a huge variety of projects such as assisting in under-resourced schools, offering expertise at under-equipped medical facilities, campaigning on human rights issues, providing care for HIV/AIDS orphans, promoting improved agricultural practices and so on.

But why do these problems exist in the first place and why are they not easily solved through our goodwill and charity?

Learning about development can help us understand more about the causes of and solutions to these problems and can help us be better informed volunteers, addressing not just the superficial poverty related issues but the deeper rooted causes as well. It can help us to have a more complex and accurate impression of the developing world than what is commonly shown to us through charity advertising. It can also help us when we return to educate others about the issues involved.

 

 Millennium Development Goals

In 2000 the UN Millennium Declaration was adopted at the largest ever meeting of heads of state. World leaders  agreed a set of 8 goals, known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) aimed at eradicating poverty by 2015. Read more…

 Globalisation

 The rapid increase in economic, social, cultural and technological exchange across borders affects us all, but has particular implications for developing countries.  Read more…  

 International Institutions

International Institutions such as the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation are mentioned frequently in writing about development. Find out what they actually are and why you should care.  Read more…   

 Debt and Trade.

International Institutions such as the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation are mentioned frequently in writing about development. Find out what they actually are and why you should care.  Read more…  

 

 

 

 

 

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