In your own way

What roles can foreigners play in community development? A reflection.

Sarabe Chan*

In community development, we often hear that foreigners should be the facilitator or technical assistant, while locals should take the lead in programmes. While I strongly believe that foreigners must embrace some fundamental values and attitude when practicing development in other countries, I also believe that the roles that foreigners and nationals play need not be so clearly defined. Despite so, I sometimes wonder how foreigners contribute more effectively.


Men and Women in Gender and Development: A Conversation with Andrea Cornwall (University of Sussex)

“Compassion and love should underpin everything we do in the name of ‘development’”

The recent US election that has resulted in the victory of an openly misogynist and racist man has drawn our attention to the rise of right-wing movements in democratic countries. One of the many causes of the results of the US election and Brexit may derive from economically marginalised people using the only voice they had – their voting power – to speak out against their frustration. It is time to examine the inequality within countries in the Global North as part of the development agenda.

The field of Gender and Development has attempted to highlight inequality within development by using the lens of gender and intersectionality. These perspectives are needed more than ever to take into account the voice of the marginalised groups. Say for Development spoke to an expert of Gender and Development, Prof. Andrea Cornwall, the Head of the School of Global Studies at the University of Sussex (UK). 


Engaging Communities During Development Research: A Conversation with Dr. Ayobami Ojebode

“Researchers need to earn the right to be heard”

The Evidence and Lessons from Latin America (ELLA) Programme is a three-year long research project in which researchers from Latin America and Africa collaborate to conduct comparative research on issues currently on the agendas of policy actors in their countries. The current phase is a collaboration between 12 countries on 6 research topics ranging from Informality and Inclusive Growth to Domestic Violence. More information can be found here:

Say for Development spoke to Dr. Ayobami Ojebode, the leader of the research team from Ibadan University, Nigeria. His team collaborated with a team from El Salvador on community based crime prevention, focusing on how communities work together to fill the gap of inadequate security provided by the state in Nigeria. The Ibadan University research team actively collaborated with key stakeholders (including the police force) throughout the research process. Say for Development spoke to Ayobami to understand what development practitioners can learn from his team’s experience with involving key stakeholders in the research process.


Food Culture in Guatemala

Simone Riddle*

(Dedicated to the women of AMA)

This article explores my reflections on food culture in Guatemala following an action research inquiry into food sharing and storytelling working with the Asociación de mujeres del Altiplano (AMA) between May and August 2016. I argue that Mayan food culture reflects the wider principles of Mayan cosmovision and propose that these principles could provide a guide to leading a more ethical, fulfilled and balanced life.


How to spread love in development?

Sarabe Chan*

Earlier this year, I was at a conference attended by some of the world’s top-notch development thinkers and researchers. In one particular session, a panel of development practitioners shared their work in NGOs, policymaking and social businesses. Usually, we tend to hear a lot of buzzwords like ‘sustainability’, ‘innovation’, ‘governance’ in conferences. But, during this particular panel, the words ‘love’, ‘relationship’ and ‘compassion’ were repetitively mentioned. I felt more awake all of the sudden.


Driving teacher-led change to improve learning

Ankit Vyas*

At the advent of the 21st Century, technology was being looked upon as the silver bullet in improving learning outcomes. Millions of dollars were invested in projects such as One-Laptop per child. However, recent data reveals shows that access to technology in itself has no impact on learning. Children in Peru who were a part of the programme showed an improvement in computer skills, but their learning levels could not be directly correlated to their access to a laptop.


Seeing Development through the People: A Conversation with Mark Goldring, CEO of Oxfam GB

“We need to keep the wellbeing of individuals we are serving at the forefront of our thinking.”

Oxfam International has recently signed a deal to move its headquarter to Nairobi, Kenya. As one of the most recognisable and renowned development organisations in the world, the relocation is a clear statement of the need to strengthen Southern voices. This also means that Oxfam Great Britain (Oxfam GB), which to many people is the spiritual home of Oxfam, will undergo quite a change in its role and strategy. It is symbolic in an era where more attention is placed on thinking about development through the people.

Say for Development had a conversation with Mark Goldring*, CEO of Oxfam GB. From commencing his career as a volunteer teacher to heading one of the largest charities in the world, Mark talks about his journey in international development, the relocation of Oxfam International, and the importance of love and compassion in development.


The challenges and lessons from Ebola crisis for zoonotic disease preparedness and Control

Yukyum Kim*


Ebola crisis in West Africa was one of the greatest health tragedies in modern times. This tragedy is partly attributed to the acuteness of the virus, but the lack of preparedness and inappropriate responses exacerbated the situation. This article explores the challenges shown during the Ebola crisis and finds lessons for better zoonotic disease preparedness and control. The greatest lesson is that the responses based on solely biomedical and epidemiological approaches are not enough to address the zoonotic disease epidemic. Rather, the underlying factors that affect systems, interventions, behaviours must be considered and addressed.


Norms and Rights, Love and Care: Why Care for Children? – A Conversation with Save the Children

“[Other than focusing only on policymaking and technical aspects of poverty reduction], we also need to create a powerful norm of care and compassion in society as a whole.”

The SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) have placed particular emphasis on alleviating extreme poverty. For the first time among global goals, child poverty is being specifically targeted and recognised. Universality is also acknowledged – no longer is child poverty a challenge of the Global South, but it is also present in relatively developed countries.

Say for Development had a conversation with Richard Morgan*, Director of Global Child Poverty Initiative at Save the Children, and Co-Chair of Global Coalition to End Child Poverty. With 30 years of ample experience working with children’s rights issues in both Save the Children and UNICEF, Richard shares his insights on addressing child poverty and the SDGs, how interventions around children’s rights have changed over the years, and most importantly, how to ensure that children receive love and affection.

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Touching Hearts and Minds Together: A Conversation with Melissa Leach

“Love, relationships, emotions and feelings have a place in development thinking and practice, as they are a big part of why we do what we do. After all, it is about the way we feel about the world and issues rather than just because they are academically interesting.”

The Institute of Development Studies (IDS), founded in 1966, is one of the world’s leading organisations for research, teaching, and communications on international development. Over the decades, IDS has made ground-breaking and influential contributions to the field of international development including studies and researches on addressing poverty and inequality, village and rural poverty studies that led to development from the perspectives of the poor, participatory approaches to development and democracy, gender dimensions to development, the role of emerging powers in international development and many more. In 2014-15, IDS along with University of Sussex topped the QS World University Rankings in development studies.


Participation through Body, Voice and Space: A Conversation with Theatre for a Change

“People are the experts of their own lives. Development only happens if it is owned by the people and participation is fundamental to real development.”

Owing much to Robert Chambers’ insights into Participatory Learning and Action, and the educational theory of Paulo Freire, participation has become a very important concept and practice in development. Theatre for a Change (TfaC) is an NGO founded in 2003 that uses drama and interactive theatre to work with the most vulnerable and marginalised groups, particularly those at risk of poor sexual and reproductive health and who have limited opportunities to assert their gender rights. The methodology was first applied in Ghana in 2003 as a response to rising rates of HIV/AIDS. Today, TfaC works in Ghana, Malawi and the UK.

Say for Development had the opportunity to have a conversation with TfaC’s Founder and Executive Director, Patrick Young*, on how gender equality can be achieved through using participatory theatre methodologies.