Development aid versus sustainable development cooperation

One has to understand the difference between development aid and development cooperation very well before discussing how the people in the south can be helped in a sustainable way. First let us explain the four pillars of development aid/cooperation. The first one is bilateral which means between two countries, for example Belgium and Congo. The second is multilateral and it involves the multinationals, for example EU and AU. The third pillar consists of the  NGO’s, non-governmental organizations, and the fourth pillar includes all the rest.

Have a look at the following video of the Bill Gates & Melinda foundation:

Paying for vaccines for people who cannot afford them is one of the things that the foundation does. This foundation has gathered a huge amount of money for a certain goal. If people in for example Somalia are in need of a certain medicine, then this foundation buys vaccines and gives them to the people in need. THIS is DEVELOPMENT AID! There is a specific problem/need, it is solved by buying food, vaccines, water, etc.  and afterwards giving it to the people.
Development aid is humanitarian help and indeed it saves a lot of lives, but it doesn’t contribute in the long term well-being of the people!  You can give a poor child one dollar so he can eat that day, but the next day he will be hungry again because he still has not money to feed himself.

Sustainable development cooperation is a dynamic process of mutual learning and adjusting. It is about patiently building relations of trust and creating a mutual sense of responsibility. Development aid is about donor-logics and development cooperation is about actor-logics!
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With our project, we wish to support the people and create their future together with them. It is very important that the people are involved in the process. Jobs have to be created for those people, the local economy has to be stimulated, education needs to be implemented and people need to have the chance to learn how to earn their own money!


8 thoughts on “Development aid versus sustainable development cooperation

  1. deckersbram says:

    Hi, very interesting topic to blog about.

    There is an english expression about sustainable aid saying you can give a man a fish and he can eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he can eat for a lifetime.

    I also remember some criticism on music for life a couple of years back where they collected money to buy mosquito nets for an African country to help prevent the spread of malaria. Some voices said that instead of just buying mosquito nets for the people there the money should have been spend by creating some kind of factory in the country and giving the knowledge needed so that the people could produce the nets and thus make money and be protected from the mosquito’s. Do you think that for the music for life project they also should have chosen the sustainable development cooperation method?


    • woutcordeel says:

      I believe that they wanted to do something good, but a radio station such as Studio Brussel always keeps in mind their goal: being the most popular radio station of Belgium. Therefore it is way more easy for them to promote sustainable aid, rather than sustainable development cooperation. Everybody will be happy ’cause the people will think they really helped the world by buying a mosquito net and at the end Studio Brussel gains popularity!

  2. tijlcrauwels says:

    I agree that there’s a definite need for sustainable development cooperation. But I disagree where you say that the example is purely development aid on the short term. The vaccine will help children and adults to not get sick, not spread the dissease, and perhaps in time those large epidemics can be counteracted. In this view I would call that sustainable as well.

    Donating money is indeed another cup of tea, most of the donated money will be used by corrupt governments and don’t contribute to solving the problem, and just make it more bearable.

    I also had a question more regarding the reply Bram gave, where they promote the building of factorys and give them the needed skills to take care of theirselves. When they are able to make a musquito net, or a cheap boiler for that matter. Are they able to sell it, do they get rewarded for their work, or is it ‘charity’ to their own village or other villagers etc? Because people that can’t afford those things, still won’t be able to afford them once they’re made in that country, so that doesn’t change as much I would think?

    So to summarize my question is, is it possible to stimulate the economy when your civilians are poor and have almost nothing to contribute?

    • If there is an epidemic in for example Congo, than they need free medicines because lots of people cannot afford it. By giving them medicines you save lives, if you don’t thousands or more will day the next day (or within few days). This is aid. I can’t see in what way this could be sustainable.. Epidemics can occur always and anywhere, also in Europe, it is only rare in Europe because there is a lot of more hygiene and people get vaccinated preemptive.
      The solar boiler is very cheap and made with local materials. In this way it can be rebuilt quit easy and local people can afford it. In this way the local experts (trained by us) will be able to earn some money, people will be able to afford a super cheap solar boiler and the local market will be stimulated because local material is used.

      • tijlcrauwels says:

        Well, sustainable development is often defined as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” So I still feel that vaccinations (which are always preemptive) are a sort of sustainable development as you don’t hurt the future of those people by making sure they don’t get sick.

        So this case it might be more something like ‘sustainable development aid’, instead of ‘sustainable development cooperation’. But I can’t see anything wrong with giving aid when you don’t impose on their futures.

      • About vaccination which is a very specific example, it is preemptive in the following way: there are some people sick (epidemic danger) they bring vaccines to prevent people dying next day.

        And I follow you’re opinion that is based on that definition, but I think in a different way then it is defined. I think that you speak about sustainable development if they can live in the future at least in a similar or even more comfortable situation that they do now.

        And to make it clear, I DO THINK THAT AID IS VERY IMPORTANT but this does not contribute for a better future in such a way that cooperation can.

  3. gabuglio says:

    I support Tijl on this subject. Sustainable development would be nowhere without development aid.
    Before starting to industrialise a third world country you first have to make sure that the people who live there have a decent health and a decent way of life. By giving the people food and vaccination the well being of the people increases. When this is accomplished we can start thinking about sustainable development and transporting knowledge and factories to those countries.
    In our countries the growth of wellness also came together with vaccines and better medical help. I think we need to use our history to help the people in the third world countries. And development aid and sustainable development go together.

  4. gabuglio says:

    What are the opinions about this gesture?
    What do you think that should happen with this money?

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