Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Key To Sustainable Development

The big question facing anyone involved in global development is not only how to make agriculture development work, but also how to make it sustainable.

According to USAID and Dr. Montague Demment, the Associate Vice President for International Development at APLU, the keys to sustainability are both capacity building and country ownership.

Capacity building must be on both the human and the institutional level, in agriculture and related sciences.

When outsiders such as NGOs and other non-profits come into to assist with the development of a country, it is difficult to work at the local level. They must become familiar with diverse cultures, economic issues and make the difficult, but appropriate connections.

Trained nationals can much more easily this type of economic and social development. The impact of locals/nationals creates a much more long term contributions that can last for many decades. When this is combined with institutional capacity, development can remain sustainable indefinitely.

Yes, it is true that there may be a brain drain as a result. However, as Dr. Demment states, this is not the whole story. First, some do go, but others stay. And some loss is no reason to abandon this type of capacity building. Also, it is possible to minimize brain draining through proper training. Second, many individuals that leave, do return and apply their skills to the business sector, investments and research projects.

If country-driven development is to be the goal, the key element of approach must be to allow countries to make their own decisions and have significant input in the development process.

The bottom line is that, "If we want to set the stage for addressing poverty and malnutrition over the next 40 years, then we need to find a way now to educate a whole new cohort of people from developing countries who will carry much of the intellectual and political responsibility for achieving those goals."

-Gabrielle Gurian