Poverty and development are very broad and there are numerous factors at play. For over the last thirty years, different organizations- for profit and non-profits, have tried many strategies and models to help communities out of any aspect of poverty, for example, Gifts in Kind (GIK), have been donated to address, the lack of clothing, school books, medicines and many others.
Many have argued that handouts from charities and non-profit organizations, have created dependencies in communities were massive charity and non-profit projects are implemented. To add to the debate some, further argue that no matter how much aid has been pumped into a lot of developing countries, there hasn’t been real/evident progress because, communities, continue to look to donors for solutions to their own problems and take a laid back approach in dealing with poverty. From my own assertion, based on my own observation as a citizen of a developing country and eight years, working in the non-profit sector, I feel it is somewhat true that communities do become dependent on receiving handouts and this also translates to governments not fully being self-reliant, but heavily rely on donor aid to provide services to the people. This debate however, does not rule out all the progress that has been made from assisting communities in need, for example those in humanitarian emergencies, improved supply to medicines to those in need in the health sector, etc.
As a development professional working in the non-profit sector, I feel that it is high time that donors, non-governmental organizations, governments and communities, re-evaluate the management of aid. Not that donations are bad, but, we need to seriously look at the last 30 years and how much investment has gone into giving handouts to the communities, an assess if it is worth continuing this approach. Just as at a family level, we always want to help our family members to become self-reliant and not depend on the bread winner always, there is need for the non-profit sector to also re-model implementation so that communities can emerge stronger after project close out. It is my sincere hope that the models of the non-profit sector can begin to change to intervene for the self-reliance of communities they serve. The development of sustainable goals are ends, for example, eradicate poverty and hunger by 2030……. What about the means? What does this mean for the community? What has changed in the approach to community programming for poverty and hunger to be eradicated by 2030? I surely do not have all the answers, but I am sure that the micro-level approach where we encourage our own family members to become self-reliant by working among other things, can be replicated to the community and one way is by reducing handouts.
I will end with a quote from Calvin Coolidge, “All growth depends upon activity. There is no development physically or intellectually without effort, and effort means work.”