the irony in development work…

I think it is safe to assume that there are a few skeptics brewing in the development world. Nothing sums my feelings better than what I came across on Bill Easterly’s post. I think some who have experienced the practical applications of development theory are beginning to question the credibility of where we are headed with this fashionable era of “development”:

Below is a blog post on the terms in development theory and what they can mean in practice. Worth a chuckle, especially from the perspective of someone from a developing country such as myself!

Posted word for word:

The Aid-Speak Dictionary

This is a sampling of actual posts on Twitter that I requested (@bill_easterly) last weekend for “decodings of aid/development jargon” .  Inspiration was from 40 Publishing Buzzwords, Clichés and Euphemisms DecodedI don’t necessarily endorse any implied viewpoint, if any.

“beneficiaries” : the people who make it possible for us to be paid by other people –@monanicoara

“bottom-up” : don’t ask someone what might work, just make something up instead –@thejoeturner

“baseline” : a point which is so low that positive results are the only possible outcome – @ANLevine

“civil society involvement”: consulting the middle class employee of aUS or European NGO –@dangay

 “community capacity building” : teach them what they already know –@fauvevivre

“empowerment” : what is left when all the quantifiable variables give non significant results –@MarianaSarastiM

“entrepreneurial” : vaguely innovative and cool, but definitely nothing to do with the hated “market” – @jselanikio

“experienced aid practitioner” : has large number of air miles in account – @thejoeturner

“expert” : I read a book about the place on the plane –@savo_heleta

“field experience” :  I can’t bear DC anymore –@MarianaSarastiM

“gender” : counting how many women attend your meeting –@liamswiss

“Global North” : White academics; “Global South” : Indian academics  –@Isla_Misty

“innovation” : we’re sexy, you want to be associated with us –@DarajaTz

“leverage” : we’re not paying for all of this –@katelmax

“low overhead” : volunteers run headquarters –@thejoeturner

“low-hanging fruit”:  we were already going to achieve this anyway – @Global_ErinH

“mainstreaming” : forgetting – @swampcottage

“meetings” : our grant said we had to host an event – @Global_ErinH

“per diem”: what we have to pay local officials to attend our meetings – @Afrophile

“participatory stakeholders” : people who should solve their own problems –@UCGHR

“participation” : the right to agree with preconceived projects or programs –@edwardrcarr

“political will” :  I have no comprehension of the incentives faced by the people who I wish would do stuff I want @m_clem

“practical solutions” : photogenic solutions –@thejoeturner

“pro-poor” : the rich know best –@james_tooley

“RCT” : research method yielding same results as qualitative work at 10 times the cost –@texasinafrica

“outreach” : intrude –@langtry_girl

“ownership” : we held a workshop –@dangay

“raise awareness” :  no measurable outcome –@jonathan_welle

“scale-up” :  It’s time for follow on grant –@HunterHustus

“sensitize” : tell people what to do –@zw1tscher

“sustainable” : will last at least as long as the funding –@thejoeturner

“tackling root causes of poverty” : repackaging what we’ve already done in a slightly more sexy font –@thejoeturner

“UN Goals”: making up targets for problems we don’t understand paid for with money we don’t have – @jacobhorner   (in honor of current UN meeting on Non-communicable diseases)

Notes: I have done some very minor editing for spelling and clarity. 

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