Doing development differently — the rebirth of ‘the science of muddling through’

doing development differentlyIt is a commonplace that the pendulum of economic development scholarship and practice swings back and forth from one set of (faddish) ideas to another.  But beneath this back-and-forth cycling is another, longer cycle —  the tension between a search for grand, seemingly scientifically-grounded solutions, and an approach to problem-solving which self-consciously is more pragmatic, incremental. In recent decades, this long-cycle pendulum has swung powerfully in the direction of  scientism. There are, though, some striking signs that it may be swinging back. As a next step in crafting a way forward, a rapidly growing group of eminent scholars and practitioners have signed on to a “Doing Development Differently” manifesto.  I explore this swinging pendulum, and make the link to some of the earlier  intellectual roots of the DDD movement, in a blog post on the Oxford University Press website. You can access the full post by clicking here. (…..but before you go, though, do go to my blog home page, and sign up to receive email updates of future blog posts……..)

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  1. Process of globalization has led to commercialization of micro economies of agricultural, pastoral and fishing and hunting communities. This process is accompanied by encroachment of physical, social and knowledge space of isolated rural settlements. Consequently land use, management of Commons e.g. forest and natural resources, and traditional energy and water use practices have changed to the detriment of local environment and livelihood. In numerous communities socially responsible professionals and civil society organizations have initiated the process of developing local body of knowledge, tools and programs to restore ecological balance, mitigate climate change, improve natural resource management and introduce efficient energy management practices to strengthen community resilience.
    Innovative Practices
    In Pakistan, led by Dr. Akhter Hameed Khan, a very innovative work has been done to develop knowledge systems to support and maintain sustainable communities. In brief this work has consisted of:
    • Mapping of local infrastructures and experiences, land us practices and physical structures
    • This mapping has been used to engage communities, identify community priorities, hold dialogue with communities to develop low cost and affordable solutions for community problems and generate evidence to bring community on negotiating table with the government and corporate sector, and develop sustainable development plans
    • Linking micro with macro development: The knowledge and social capital generated through this physical and social mapping process has been integrated with large government and corporate sector development plans under the framework of Internal-External Development where community takes responsibility for internal development and government or corporate sector for external development. Civil society institutions lend their services as a support organization for facilitating linkage and providing technical and social guidance.
    Local Youth is trained and employed for mapping, local dialogue and gainful employment. These young workers also build bridges between the community and outside world

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