Busting Development Myths

selina2 doorey
This is Salina Begum from the Jammura TCDC village. After adult literacy and savings, she learnt skills to make bags and showpiece fruit, which she sells. She is adding to the family income and improving their lives. Not a handout, not a dependent, but rather an empowered woman overjoyed to rise above the poverty line with her new skills. Julian Doorey, Banzaid's Bangladesh based Development Facilitator, reflects on the development myths that he has come across in his work

Back in January 2014, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation issued their annual letter, focusing on 3 Myths that Block Progress for the Poor. They describe the 3 most damaging myths preventing the world from fighting against poverty and disease as:

  • Poor countries are doomed to stay poor
  • Foreign aid is a big waste
  • Saving lives leads to over-population.


By the Rivers of Babylon

Banzaid Manager, Paul ThompsonBeside the rivers of Babylon
we thought about Jerusalem,
and we sat down and cried. (Psalm 137:1)

Wait a minute! These were refugees living in the richest and most powerful city of the world of their time. This was the equivalent of living in Washington, USA. Many of them had achieved good jobs. Nehemiah was one who had a job that put him in daily contact with the most powerful man in the world – equivalent to being the chief of staff of the White House! Beside the grandeur, power and wealth of Babylon, Jerusalem was the devastated capital of a third world poverty stricken state.

And yet Nehemiah was also one of those who wept for Jerusalem. He prayed and he left the security of his job in the palace in Babylon for the ruins of Jerusalem. God stirred in him a deep compassion, and a drive to rebuild the city and the nation.


Give a man a fish...

fishingThere is an old development proverb that says “Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. Teach him to fish, you feed him for a lifetime”.

It’s called capacity building, helping people to be able to help themselves, so that they don’t need our help any more. It is the difference between ‘aid’ and ‘development’. Of course in a disaster situation (earthquake, storm, flood, war) people need feeding. They need it urgently, and there is no way they can do it for themselves. That is humanitarian aid. That is the response we make to the war in Syria, the cyclone in the Philippines. However when the disaster has passed people need to be able to get back on their own feet.

There is another whole layer that needs to be added to the metaphor. Beyond the need for food come multiple other needs, even for the most basic of lifestyles. Medical care. Education for children. The chance to have a stronger, drier house. Clothes, books, tools. The list can go on. The point is that a cash income is needed for all of these.