I think that Wainaina is really onto an important point. Too often foreign aid agencies are focused on what their vision is and spend too little time focusing on local empowerment and leveraging what is already in place. It is very important, if programs are going to be sustainable, that local ownership and visions of progress are honored. My own agency, Episcopal Relief & Development (www.er-d.org) places a very heavy emphasis on community organizing and appreciative inquiry before we even consider outside interventions. We find that this formula can bring about real and lasting change.
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