Sounding off on village development

    Nuru International believes development is best supported at the village level through integrated support and capacity building of farmers and local leaders. Photo by: Nuru

    What do celebrity economist Jeffrey Sachs and former U.S. Marine Jake Harriman have in common? This week, Devex took a closer look at two fascinating community-led development efforts by the Millennium Villages Project and Nuru International.

    While they employ different approaches to it, the two share the same mission: to change the way the development industry works by providing integrated support and capacity building to farmers and local leaders at the most local level, the village, Devex President and Editor-in-Chief Raj Kumar noted in a commentary.

    Devex readers offered their own recommendations for easing poverty.

    According to Pape Gaye, who called Kumar’s analysis “thought-provoking,” the approach may not necessarily work the best in accelerating development. The solution, he said, lies somewhere “between the old project focused model (which tends to be vertical) and the integrated approaches described in the article.”

    For Mario Aron Philip Rodrigues, what’s needed is to give communities “a chance to build themselves.” He noted that Westerners, by virtue of having more knowledge and education, feel they have a better understanding of the situation in the developing world.

    “For me if I find a way where community can be held responsible to their own development, that would be the best change they can get,” he said. “Providing for the community should be only when needed and not when wanted.”

    Timothy Bainbridge, meanwhile, noted the aid community’s tendency to fixate on philosophies and silver bullets. The fact is complex problems require varied solutions, some home-grown and some entailing external inputs, he said.

    Bainbridge wrote: “We need to be clear on what we are trying to achieve and plan our interventions around these goals, be they local results at project level or national level with policy change. The rich diversity of development organizations is a huge resource providing we don’t become … bogged down in ideological debate.”

    What do you think? Join the conversation by leaving a comment below.

    About the author

    • Eliza Villarino

      Eliza Villarino currently manages one of today’s leading publications on humanitarian aid, global health and international development, the weekly GDB. At Devex, she has helped grow a global newsroom, with talented journalists from major development hubs such as Washington, D.C, London and Brussels. She regularly writes about innovations in global development.