Tuesday, October 13, 2009

We Need Integrated Development

By Tom Aageson

After reading New Hope for Malnourished Mothers and Children in the September 2009 issue of the the Bread newsletter a couple of times I became concerned that we were falling back into our old "silo" approach to development.  

The background paper focused on good nutritional ideas for very young folks and then exclusively on agricultural development.  What is of concern is that much of the past agricultural development initiatives have focused on heavy use of fertilizers as inputs which have both environmental and economic implications.  

In Guatemala, for example, fertilizers were kept in single room houses on the floor and often pesticides were also kept there.  Spray cans were washed out in the local water stream.  Fertilizers and pesticides often have to be imported into countries which has a very negative impact on the use of local currency and excludes many people from the ag economy because of cost.  

Also, agricultural development often gets into commercial production, often for export.  Once again, US and European markets demand perfection in their veggies and I have seen broccoli, etc thrown away on roads because of imperfections and because it is not a veggie the local community eats. Also, the the background paper omits reference to the other elements of integrated, Sustainability: Economic, Environmental and Cultural.

What we need is people-centered, integrated development.  

To me, Sustainability stands on a four-legged stool:

Environment: Initiatives that are renewable, seeds that are not patented, all initiatives leave the planet in a better place  Economic-enhanced livelihoods improve lives

Social: People can grow their own food and have the incomes to buy what they need in food, shelter, medical care and education

Cultural: This never gets considered but we must consider the development of local culture for integrated development, whether it is foods, celebrations, music, artisan work, the built environment (architecture of houses, communities, etc).

I would urge Bread for the World to always have the lens of the four legs of integrated development.

The author is a Bread for the World member in Santa Fe

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