Final Thoughts on Development: Schaeffer Academy Day 5 (Friday)

by Ashley Wright 

(elementary quiz questions from bold sentences)

On our website, we have an African proverb: “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” This week we have come a long way together. Thank you so much for your help and for taking the time to learn a little about SAHARA, about development, about Burundi, and about blindness in Africa each day. We hope you have enjoyed it as much as we have.

Here are just a few concluding thoughts. At the beginning of the summer, I heard an online lecture by an African journalist, Peter Godwin. Intrigued, I looked into his memoir of growing up about in Zimbabwe, called When a Crocodile Eats the Sun. The title hints at a proverb about bad things happening in the future.

A nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus) photog...
A nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus)  on the banks of the Blydepoort dam in South Africa (Mpumalanga province) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In some ways, aid has been behind some of the negative things in Africa because as development economist William Easterly explains some people “think of poverty as a technical engineering problem…[when more often] poverty is a complicated tangle of political, social, historical, institutional, and technical factors” (Easterly 2006). For that reason, successful development combines an understanding of tradition, culture, and local institutions in recipient countries with the knowledge that incentives (such as corruption) influence behavior and can undermine development. Successful development also means accepting gradual change rather than expecting transformations overnight.

Development is extremely complicated and we often do not know the immediate answer to poverty. However, we do know what should not be done.

Aid fails when we do not understand the importance of culture, institutions, and incentives. We have let the crocodile swallow the African sun for too long. It’s time for change.

Français : Désert Algérie
Français : Désert Algérie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This week we’ve worked to change a few lives that will change many others. Thank you for being a part of that change. God bless.

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