Dear readers, this is your quarterly reminder to remind your friends (because I know you wouldn’t fall for this) in the development industry to shake off the messiah complex they may have developed in the course of their work.
1. Satire, courtesy of I Studied Abroad in Africa:
You go to one of those fabulously elitist schools where everyone talks about privilege, classism, racism, sexism, etc. as if they don’t practice it in real life. But in order to really see the world, they decide to go somewhere where they can understand what their privilege looks like. So they choose AFRICA! Yay! A whole continent dedicated to helping [non-Africans] people understand what it means to be poor and undeveloped.
2. Bill Easterly on the Ideology of Development: This is an old piece (from 2007) but which should be required reading every week for development
expats experts and the wider Global Bleeding Hearts Industrial Complex.
The ideology of Development is not only about having experts design your free market for you; it is about having the experts design a comprehensive, technical plan to solve all the problems of the poor. These experts see poverty as a purely technological problem, to be solved by engineering and the natural sciences, ignoring messy social sciences such as economics, politics, and sociology [This is also a warning to all you mono-issue activists out there. Life is complicated. Accept that fact and move on].
3. And this is how the Canadian International Development Agency, CIDA, defines international development on its website (granted it is in the youth, 13-16, section, but still):
International development is the term used to describe the activities that developed countries, called donor countries, like Canada, carry out to help poor or developing countries lift themselves out of poverty and raise their standard of living to one that is closer to the standard of living we have in Canada. About 2.6 billion people (about two out of five) live on less than $2 per day.
To reduce poverty, donor countries, like Canada, provide developing countries with technical expertise, goods and money.
Definitely some useful words of wisdom here, and the CIDA passage is comical. Messiah complexes that resemble colonial rationales are dangerous and may overshadow good intentions.
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