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.
(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.
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.
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.
In March 2015, I was at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol en route to Malawi. While at the airport I came across a big billboard by UNICEF of a dirty black child, possibly from ‘Africa’, and wearing tattered clothes. This picture took me back to the debate about representation of poor people in the development discourse. Is this image a representation of the state of this child’s life? Or is this a picture that might help the public to donate their money to support the region where this child comes from?
You are hearing from Bangladesh, a ‘development surprise’ in recent times for the rest of the world due to its cumulative success on socio-economic advancement. The Economist published an editorial on November 3, 2012, about Bangladesh titled ‘out of the basket’. The Guardian addressed it as a ‘new wave economics’. According to the Guardian on December 18, 2012, the economy of Bangladesh is expected to overtake western countries by 2050. The Goldman Sachs highlighted Bangladesh as one of the ‘Next 11’ emerging economies. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, Bangladesh will become the 23rd largest economy in the world by 2050 (Bangladesh ranks 34th now).
While the international media were busy highlighting the Stanford rape and Brazil gang-rape cases, another gang-rape, followed by murder, of a 14 year-old girl named Yuyun has also happened in Indonesia. Despite a lack of international media attention, this is an atrocity as severe as the incidents that the media has been highlighting recently. One case in Indonesia, in particular, has attracted the public attention, which led to the National Commission on the Anti Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) calling for “emergency status of sexual violence”. Despite so, discrimination against women and the marginalised groups continues to exist.
Tourism is recognised as one of the largest and rapidly expanding industry sectors in the world. This industry is not just one of the largest industries but also the largest source of foreign exchange and revenue for Nepal, which is still reeling from last year’s devastating earthquake.
As many as one million tourists visit Nepal every year, contributing to the major expansion in a number of hotels. The number of hotels in Nepal has crossed 1,000, according to the Ministry of Tourism.