Let`s talk ideas

Since our time here, we have spoken much of what is in an ‘idea’ and by extension a ‘project’. The misconception is that projects are resource exhaustive and grandiose. In truth they can be – but those projects do not often become the sustainable ones nor the type of projects that in fact promote capacity building. One of the single most important messages we can communicate is that projects are exactly what you make of them. There is so much you can do with so little. They will never become that overarching vision until you take the decision to stick to your idea through thick and thin.

In theory just as much as in practice, projects are for anyone and everyone – there are no conditions. Projects after all stem from ideas – and if ideas are in fact “free” as our colleague Gioel would say, then who can be stopped from realizing those ideas into projects? Our ideas are truly a gift when you view them as the basis to your individual development tool kit.

Yet there is another side to this discussion of project realization – that is breaking a culture of dependency and expectations particularly rampant in developing countries. This idea that projects are so vulnerable to being stopped or diminished because they are illogically tied to external donors is dangerous. The external funds we receive today we cannot count on tomorrow. International Development is one of the most volatile industries (oh yes, industries) and so we ought to think about how to break the culture of dependency by promoting local capacity development and not dependence. I say this not to imply that developing countries should not knock on doors outside of their borders – but rather to encourage that they explore resources, potential collaboration within their own communities first. We may not all be in agreement about the governments that run each nation however we ought to recognize that they do in fact have a role to play. The Paris Declaration in favour of vesting power principally with the government is interesting but that idea cannot stand alone. We need to be far more welcoming towards the idea of collaboration between NGO’s, governments and private sector actors. That way certain ideals can ring truer and we can begin to “Speak of freedom as an overall good and leave to each nation the task of selecting the specific capabilities its constitutional structure will protect” (Amartya Sen)


Kirsten Williams



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