(Mahatma Gandhi) once said: “the future depends on what you do today.”
Over the last decades attitudes towards development have changed significantly. Now the short-term ‘aid for commercial gain’ thinking of the past has been replaced by a much greater focus on development as a long-term concern enveloping a wide range of issues such as conflict prevention and resolution, trade and investment, and environmental protection.
Also, there has been a change in the form that the old paradigm that development policies should first and foremost promote economic growth, with the realisation that development must be based upon growth, sustainability and justice. Firstly, when developing countries are helped to tackle head on illiteracy, high infant mortality rates and corruption, to name but a few social ills, as well as develop economically, will they be able to break free from the poverty that blights their people’s lives (Howard and Griffith 2013).
Despite the many positive developments over recent years, my opinion that the situation of the world’s poor will worsen before any improvements are seen if they are not given the tool and skills to become independent, as it is only through a more equal dialogue can developing countries make their own voices heard. Therefore they will be able to grow into countries that are liberated from development aid.
So in looking at the future of international development, I want to start by looking at where we are today (2043) which means I’m now 49 years old. The last 50 years of human history has thought to have been the best in terms of the quality of human lives. But I personally think it is the next 50 years that are going to be the best.
After working 22 years in sierra Leone and Thailand for Girls Incorporated a non-profit organization that focuses on giving confidence to girls, I have thought many girls to become empowered, smart confident and bold. I have also showed them skills required to become an independent and liberated women who does not have to become dependent on their husbands or on development aid. Therefore, I can proudly say that things have changed as now girls are more educated and not just pushed into getting married at a young age, as a result we are now in a society that is been wean off development aid through education and giving developing countries the tools and skills needed to stand on their own.
I’m not saying this will be easy, as all the problems are not yet solved. The figures speak for themselves:
- 2.5 billion people still lack access to improved sanitation facilities
- 1.2 billion people still live in extreme poverty
- Every fourth child under 5 is underweight
- Over a quarter of a million women still die in pregnancy and childbirth each year from completely avoidable causes.
- Andrew Howard and Phoebe Griffith (2012); the Future of International Development: available from:http://fpc.org.uk/articles/127; (accessed date: 02/01/2014)
- Mark Lowcock (2012): The future of international development; Department for International Development ; (Transcript of the speech, exactly as it was delivered) available from: www.gov.uk/government/speeches/mark-lowcock-the-future-of-international-development, (accessed date: 02/01/2014)
- Maeve Bateman, Tara Bedi, Dr Lorna Gold and Olive Moore (2011) The Leading Edge 2020; critical thinking on the future of international development: England; published by Trócaire