30 years ago, there were countless agendas and causes that were splitting the attention of the development community.  From international development, to climate change, to world hunger, the world was getting whiplash from jumping from cause to cause so rapidly. However, I am glad to announce that era in our history has finally come to a close.

The past thirty years in international development have seen a mass movement from the development practices of yesteryear to the practices we now see in 2043.  Gone are the days when aid is given in terms of material objects.  The past few decades have witnessed a more hands on approach when it comes to development, with government workers, NGOs, and those actually in need of the help, isolating what the root of the problem is…and then solving it.  The UN holds discussions between all the parties involved and ideas are formulated and then voted on to find a solution that everyone can agree with, much like it did 30 years ago.  The powers seated in the Security Council, however, are now interchanged every two years to ensure that every country gets heard.

Image from throughmylensetlh.blogspot.com

Image from throughmylensetlh.blogspot.com

After the Live Aid debacle in 1985, in which the funds collected were used to kill thousands of Ethiopians (although the money was supposed to go to help the Ethiopians), it became clear that throwing money at a problem will not make it disappear, but may even worsen it.  A few decades after the relief concert originally aired, it became known that not only was the money misused originally, it was used to buy guns (Plaut, 2010).  While aid workers thought they were dealing with grain merchants, they were really doing business with rebel leaders, unknowingly giving money to the rebels for the purchase of weapons.  Sadly, this is not the only story like this one.  Countless misuses of aid money have been recorded and it was about time it came to an end.  Simply by changing the way aid was given (going from putting a bandage on the problem to actually solving the root of the problem), we have been able to raise the standard of living in Africa and other previously “third world” areas.

Thirty years ago, global climate change was another issue looming over everyone.  The ice caps were melting and more and more natural disasters were taking place.  Through international research into sustainable energy sources, now then less than 10% of our energy needs are met with fossil fuels.  Energy harnessed from the Sun, water, wind, and biofuels (like those made from corn and other crops) have helped with our dependence on oil and fossil fuels, which in turn, helped lessen the impact on our environment.

Image from solarfeeds.com

Image from solarfeeds.com

Thirty years ago, world hunger was a serious issue.  Even children living in some of the richest countries in the world were going hungry.  That’s when the UN in 2026 came to agreement over the No More Hunger Plan.  This plan called on governments to take a front seat in the drive toward ending hunger in their countries.  In developing areas, experts were sent in to teach the locals more efficient farming techniques to increase their crop yields.  In already developed areas, laws were put in place to regulate the school system to make sure every child had three meals a day and did not go hungry.

Back to 2013…

Outcomes like these, while very optimistic, are entirely possible in the future.  I think that there does need to be a change in the way development is handled, to really get at the root of an issue.  If there were a genocide happening, we would not just send in doctors and think that will solve everything.  We would call on international governments to stop the leader who was committing such atrocious acts.  Why can this not be the case for other development problems?

There are a lot of different voices in the development community, but what if all the voices could harmonize? Imagine the possibilities…

References:

Plaut, M. (2010, March 03). Ethiopia famine aid ‘spent on weapons’. Retrieved from http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8535189.stm

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