A group level training in Heifer Cornerstones being held in the village of Khayarmara in Mohattari district of Nepal. Photo by Puja Singh
by Puja Singh — Heifer Nepal
The more one keeps up with the news and tries to understand the world’s poverty situation, the more it feels like unfortunate incidents are recurring. Natural disasters, famine and environment exploitations reoccur in the same areas where development goals were said to have been achieved. The 2010 famine in the Horn of Africa seemed all too familiar to the non-governmental organizations who rushed to the rescue. This brings about the question – What is missing?
Maybe a crucial component of development is addressed and accredited far less than it deserves. Let me introduce you to a new term: Capacity Development. Although a pertinent part of development work, capacity development as a term and a process seems to be lost in all the other big words and processes. It creeps up here and there, but is never a focus. A recent blog, Capacity building – isn’t that what development is all about? by Jonathan Glennie reminds us of the important role that capacity development plays in sustainable development. The World Bank defines sustainable development as “Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” There is no way this can happen without capacity development.
Heifer understands the importance of capacity development and has incorporated it as a major component of its projects. Most of the project’s budget and time is dedicated to capacity building trainings and discussions. Participants are trained in animal management, values-based management, financial management, etc. This has been credited by many evaluators including Western Michigan University as the reason behind Heifer’s success at the grassroots level. Heifer’s signature mechanism of Passing on the Gift™ assures that capacity continues to be developed within the community even without external intervention. Heifer’s trainings like the Cornerstones and gender equity continue to be transferred informally long after the funding stops. Isn’t this the ultimate goal of all our development work — that the work continues even after aid has stopped? Capacity development assures that this will happen.
The Fourth Level High Forum on Aid Effectiveness is taking place this week in Busan, Korea. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and delegates from non-governmental organizations around the globe are among the participants.
Heifer International has been represented at the forum by our Senior Director of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Rienzzie Kern. Kern presented examples of Heifer’s work and outlined key lessons, opportunities and challenges.
Development professionals from around the world have gathered in Busan to consider ways and means to deliver development aid more effectively. The intent is to ensure that every dollar spent is yielding the desired results for the poor of the world. This is particularly important given the continued increase in the number of poor and hungry in our world. The group consists of ministers, heads of large donor agencies, delegates from nonprofit organizations and members of grassroots movements. Heifer was present to share its experiences in scaling up its program in partnership with the private sector. There is much thought now given to the potential that could arise if nonprofits partner with the private sector to more effectively build on synergies to feed the world.
Heifer International works in partnership with and stands for the too-often voiceless poor around the world and is committed to doing all we can to help bring about the end to hunger and poverty and to ensure protection for the earth’s resources.
In coming weeks, the U.S. Congress is poised to vote on a budget that puts at risk critical humanitarian and development programs, such as USAID’s forward-thinking Feed the Future, which save millions of lives every year.
This isn’t a question of charity; it’s an issue of life or death for millions of people—especially women and girls who produce most of the world’s food but suffer the greatest hunger and poverty and derive the fewest benefits.
Failing to fund these programs thoughtfully and responsibly threatens not only the health and welfare of hundreds of millions of families; it threatens the security of individuals and the world.
We encourage you to act, too, to take a stand for the poor, the hungry, to ask that America hold to its moral and humanitarian commitments.
Write a letter to or make an appointment with your local congressman or woman. Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. Host a community meeting at a school or library to energize others in this important conversation. Help give voice to those whose lives depend on America and others doing the right thing.
Yesterday, CNN featured on their website development economist and Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor of poverty alleviation Esther Duflo as part of Ted Talk Tuesdays.Duflo spoke at the TED2010 conference in February.
The lead paragraph says, “Governments and charities have spent billions to try to wipe out poverty, but award-winning economist Esther Duflo says we really don’t know if that money has been well spent.”
While Duflo advocates using the scientific method to determine the best use of aid, a five-year study of Heifer projects conducted by Western Michigan University found that Heifer’s model of sustainable development works.
Over a five-year period, evaluators assessed more than 139 projects, interviewed nearly 5,000 participants, and visited 1,300 projects in 20 countries. The evaluators summarized that, “it is beyond doubt that in all 20 of the countries we have examined, Heifer has brought large overall benefits to very large numbers of low income rural families. In particular, there are always substantial benefits wherever the elements of basic human needs are in short supply…”
Read more about Western Michigan’s evaluations here.