Utah Valley Global Health Group

A blog about global health for those living in Utah Valley and their friends.

Development: Good intentions can be made effective through planning by Kami Knudson

Posted by benjamincrookston on April 8, 2008

The world of development is often characterized by well-intentioned programs lacking efficacy in their work.  Countless NGOs, Multi-Lateral Organizations and individuals spend billions of dollars each year in trying to eradicate disease and alleviate suffering.  The problem is, much of these billions is misdirected, misused and ultimately wasted.  While no one can fault a do-gooder who just wants to make a difference, there are better ways to go about development than simply dumping time and money into a problem.  The first recorded organizations to start trying to make a change were religious ones, saving lives in the name of Jesus.  Then were governments, sick of losing their soldiers and citizens to curable disease.  Then individuals, motivated by some mix of the two.  For over a century, development tactics centered on a ‘trial and error’ approach rather than evidence-based initiatives.  Again, no one can fault the pioneers of development for their contributions to world of health and education.  But in the modern age of global health, we have the resources and the insight to take a more practical approach.  The key to making global health effective is research.  Fortunately, because of trial and error experiences, we know what works.  Both on a multi-national and grassroots level, there have been successes.  Efficient do-gooders take what has worked in the past and altered what has not to make a new, more reliable program.  Good intentions are made valuable through planning.  Instead of going into a program with an attitude of “I want to help” we need to know: Who will be helped? How will they be helped? How long will it take for the effects to surface? How long will this help last?  Questions like these (and many more) are questions that successful businesses ask before they start a business plan.  The better the plan, the better the profit. Even though most grassroots programs are not looking to make a profit in dollars, the outcome to be sought is lives.  The better the plan, the more lives are saved.  Well worth the investment.

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3 Responses to “Development: Good intentions can be made effective through planning by Kami Knudson”

  1. chads said

    I agree 100%, Kami. You may want to take a look at USAID’s Quality Assurance Program (QAP). This is also a blog and website that addresses systemic and quality issues: http://blogs.cgdev.org/globalhealth/

  2. Elise Best said

    I wholeheartedly agree with the importance of making serious efforts to research the best practices currently available, if you have any intentions on making a beneficial contribution to improving health or developmental issues. I recently set off on a student-run “humanitarian” trip to Mexico and was very disappointed to find that the visit seemed to be focused on having a good experience in a different country, rather than actually putting our time and efforts to a cause that would actually benefit the children we were trying to help. With better research looking for interventions that have previously been successful, I know that these trips for “do-gooders” would be more satisfying as they would provide lasting benefits to those they intend to serve.

  3. chads said

    Great point, Elise. Everyone involved needs to be very honest: Why am I doing this, really?

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