International Development

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the NO-NONSENSE guide to
INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

In Maggie Black's Guide to International development, she provides a look at the concept of international development from a historical perspective, describing our worlds past and present situation on an economic, social, and political level. Black explains that the idea of development was invented at the end of the Second World War to describe the process in which "backward" countries would "catch up" with the industrialized world, thanks to assistance from other countries. Black goes on in her book to describe our world's current trends in development, including both its successes and its injustices. Black describes the idea of development as having many gray areas. It is not simply black and white. There is no standard approach to helping the development of "backward" countries. A donor cannot just front the money for a new dam to be constructed in a country and expect to be looked to as a savior. Black explains that development must grow organically, building off of existing knowledge with modern ideas. She does not necessarily take a particular side in this book, although most of the reading is criticism towards our world's attempts at international development. Black's drive behind her writing seems to be to show those who are in the dark on the issue of development, truly how badly our world has struggled with the issue since it was invented. If Black intended on having a consistent theme in this book in which she could return to in all issues of world development it is that true development is about the people.

Today there are more people/countries in need of development than there was when the concept was invented and many of these people/countries suffer poverty as a direct result of a development attempt. One example of this occurred in January 2002, in San Salvador, Mexico, where farmers protested the construction of an airport that ultimately would destroy the homes of hundreds of families. These common folk were forced to dig ditches around the area to stop heavy machinery, take up a case in court, and face riot police in Mexico City, but authorities didn't budge. Black goes on to discuss other injustices relating to those that occurred in San Salvador; such as dams being built that ruin the livelihoods of thousands and others many of which never received the attentions that others did because they were smaller projects. The hypocrisy lies in the fact that most would say that the true concern of development in general is to fight poverty. Yet although some development has been beneficial, majority has wound up hurting the recipients more than helping them. Families who were living their peaceful traditional lifestyle now live in poverty because their fertile land was flooded by a dam that was constructed and justified in the name of development. Black goes on to describe the landslide of problems large projects like those mentioned can develop for these countries in a cost-benefit sense. An airport allows planes to land, but it also contributes to the mass debt that the country carries leaving them with now choice but to use natural resources to pay off debt as opposed to using the money for education or healthcare. Black goes on to discuss the construction of such groups as the European Union (EU), the United Nations (UN), the Union of Socialist Soviet republics (USSR), and the World Bank. These bodies were used as government methods of funding the development crisis. Problem with these bodies is that they were not nearly concerned enough about the people in the underdeveloped countries. When the media began to bring suffering around the world to people's attention, is when NGO's or Non-Governmental Organizations came into play. The NGO's focus on "civil society" gained them much more respect in the development dilemma. They were able to get to the poorest areas of societies and they were effective. Reiterating Black's idea that...
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