No small order, and a constantly debated question.
This article by Michael Hobbes does a great job of laying bare some of the fundamental issues at play within development:
– programs are increased in size quickly, often without compelling (or any) evidence to support them
– approaches shift rapidly in response to small trials
– programs are disseminated across cultural barriers without necessarily having adaption to match
– non-profits are squeezed to reduce “overhead” in a fashion that can often result in a lower quality product being produced
These ideas resonate readily with my experiences in international development work. I particularly appreciate his emphasis that development isn’t “broken” – that in fact, development is occurring, throughout the world – but that the processes to make it as quick and efficient as possible are presently not great, that we perhaps should set our expectations lower in terms of what outcomes we will reap, and that money spent in administration is not necessarily money lost (though it can be).
He follows with an additional piece on two specific, heartening developments within development.