Monday, 29 October 2007

New kid on the block

Douglas Alexander, the new Secretary of State for International Development, has written in DfID's Developments magazine about his recent trip to Afghanistan:
I think we can do more to make sure the public understand what development is about and to take pride in the UK’s role in it. I wish I could have taken a group of tax payers to the school in Afghanistan that I visited last week, and introduced them to the headteacher who taught for many years under trees in the garden of that school, and then later under canvas but is now teaching in a fantastic school building. I wish people could have listened, as I did, to the schoolgirls there who had been denied an education under the Taliban, but now told me how they aspired to be doctors and engineers. I don’t think I’d have any difficulty convincing people that their money had been well spent, and that it was the right thing to do. It’s part of my responsibility to share those stories with the public.
But it is not good enough to strive to 'share stories' with the public - since, if politicians (and some development agencies) have their way, these will always be stories of success.

What's needed is a more determined effort to share the successes and failures of development interventions in a way that lets professionals learn from mistakes and the public keep spending in check.

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