polis: a collective blog about cities worldwide

Robert Chambers on Development Practitioners

A 1968 poster reads, "I participate, you participate, he participates, we participate, you participate, they profit."

"So it is not surprising that personal behavior and attitudes have remained a blind spot in much development awareness and practice. Development activity could be more effective if only the actors behaved and related differently. This applies in almost all development contexts. The personal dimension of development is pervasive. It is like the air we breathe, so universal that we rarely notice it. The arguments apply to all professionals whose lives and work affect development, whether they are policy-makers, fieldworkers or local people; in the centre or at the periphery; senior or junior; male or female; in aid agencies, government departments, universities, colleges or training or research institutes; and in NGOs or the private sector, including consulting organizations...

It is difficult to judge how much over the past decade the behavior and attitudes of development professionals have shifted from command, control and teach towards empower, enable and co-learn; but small changes do seem to have taken place on quite a wide scale. If progress is scattered and limited, it is also bright with promise. The six PAR (power and relationship) words, for example - partnership, empowerment, ownership, participation, accountability and transparency (Groves and Hinton, 2004) - have been memes, spreading and working away in development in practice."

Robert Chambers, from Ideas for Development, 2005

This is part of a collection of quotes related to cities. They don't necessarily reflect our views, just topics of interest. We welcome you to add others.

Credits: Poster by anonymous artist.

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