|GATE - 1989/4 - 1990/1 - GATE's Cooperation Partner Programme (GTZ GATE, 1990, 40 p.)|
A Statement Issued by the GATE Partner Groups
Third World countries are suffering at the moment from increasing indebtedness, poverty, inability to support themselves and general confusion deriving from the prevailing mentality. This is based on the motive of extracting economic gains in the shortest possible period, disregarding the need for proper exploitation of natural resources and concentrating profits in the hands of a few, thus failing to achieve welfare for the people.
In the historical origins of under-development in our countries it is possible to identify a common denominator of failure to achieve social and economic welfare for our people. Even worse, most of our basic natural resources, on which economic activity is based, have been unwisely exploited, to the point of causing serious damage, putting the survival of our environment at risk. Thus in most cases it is not possible to use these natural resources as a basis for further economic development.
This failure is due to many factors in the global process of accumulating capital. In most cases the reason is that the goals of economic projects have always been defined in terms of private interests and thus in very short terms, to secure a return on capital investment in the shortest possible time, disregarding all other social and ecological considerations.
On the other hand, in view of the explosive situation in most of the Third World, there is an urgent need to invest in projects with a major social impact. This is a paradoxical situation for NGOs, which should not think only in terms of short-term projects: otherwise we will repeat the history of failure.
Alternative approach to development
In view of the current state of affairs, in which a number of nations are sinking ever more deeply into poverty, the following comments are proposed as an alternative approach to development. The planning methods adopted for such an approach should be appropriate. The most urgent task is to reconcile the long-term objectives of a given project with the short-term goal of making a social and economic impact: we want to achieve these goals immediately.
A sustainable improvement in the quality of life for the majority of the world's population would be achieved only if all nations could agree on production methods and a lifestyle which were environmentally sound. Sectorial agreements should be encouraged as pilot projects, which could provide scope for experiments with ecological models before a world agreement is reached.
In order to achieve a sustainable improvement in the quality of life it is very important to provide effective support for the role played by NGOs and community-based grass-roots groups, stressing self-management capabilities. These two types of groups are the principal actors in this model of development work.
Basic concepts of development
One of the most common definitions of development is improvement of the quality of life for the majority of the population and satisfaction of basic needs. Nevertheless, development cannot be reduced to merely economic considerations; it should be oriented towards holistic welfare for individuals, society and the environment.
At least four aspects of development must be considered:
a) Culture: One of the most important aspects is respect for people's cultural identity. Popular groups should be encouraged to upgrade their participation in the defence of their common interests.
b) Technology: Transfer from other locations where the technology in question has proved successful, and recuperation of indigenous technologies that are still useful for the population, should both be considered. New technologies could also be developed, or a combination of modern and traditional ones, always with a view to long-term sustainability.
c) Ecology: Improvement in the quality of life should be sought as a long-term environmental process, assuring the survival of nations and the world in general by rescuing natural resources and using them wisely. Lifestyles based on excessive and unbalanced exploitation of resources should give way to a more appropriate way of life, thus relieving the pressure on the environment.
d) Participation: This is the most important key to sound development work and should be considered at three levels: in the fair distribution of profits, in the practice of democratic methods, and in the realization of individual potentials.
Relationships between projects and social environments
Projects at the micro level should have a working relationship with macro strategies, aiming at:
1) strengthening the links between initiatives at local and provincial level;
2) promoting regional and national planning based on local needs;
3) increasing awareness of social issues, among both NGOs and grass-roots groups as well as government officers;
4) integrating democratic methods both in measures taken and in the planning of projects;
5) providing services, suggestions, information and support to organizations at the community level;
6) exchanging information among different communities and between these and agencies dealing in macro issues.
Financing of NGOs should include investment in long-term projects such as those using revolving funds, building up infrastructures or ensuring education and training. These activities should be assisted primarily by supporting basic NGO operations.
To ensure the success of projects, efforts should be directed towards influencing policy-makers in order to secure their awareness, coordination and support. Interaction between NGOs and their national governments should include mutual respect, evaluation and assistance.
The complete background of the project should always be taken into consideration, including the economic, political, cultural, historical and environmental context.
In order to be relevant to the broad issues, projects should include scientific and technological research aimed at satisfying basic needs through pilot projects.
The present economic plight of Third World countries is briefly described and the reasons for it are given. The authors of the paper believe that it will only be possible to achieve a lasting improvement in living conditions in these countries if effective support is given to self-help groups and non-governmental organizations. The paper stresses that there are other important factors apart from the economy, including culture, technology, ecology and participation. It also argues that project financing should be long-term, because this is the only way to ensure the effectiveness of training measures and improvements to infrastructures.
Brève description de la situation économique actuelle des pays du tiers monde et évocation des faits générateurs d'une telle situation. Les auteurs de cet expose vent d'avis que les conditions de vie dans ces pays ne peuvent connaitre une amélioration durable que si l'aide apportée aux groupes d'entraide et aux organisations non gouvernementales est efficace. Il est souligne que les autres éléments importants, outre l'économie, vent la culture, la technologie, I'écologie et la participation. Il est ensuite ajoute que, par ailleurs, les financements de projets devraient être a long terme, car c'est le seul moyen en garantir l'efficacité des améliorations infrastructurelles et des mesures de formation.
En el informe se analiza la situación económica actual de los paises en vies de desarrollo y se exponen les causes que han llevado a la misma. Los autores opinan que une mejora duradera de les condiciones de vida en estos paises solo puede alcanzarse mediante el apoyo eficaz de los grupos de autoayuda y de les organizaciones no gubernamentales. Como factores importantes, aparte de la economia, destacan la cultura, la tecnología, la ecología y la participación. Ademas, continua el informe, les financiaciones de proyectos deberían planificarse a largo plazo, ya que solo asi pueden garantizarse medidas de capacitación y mejoras de les infraestructuras eficaces.