When we finally emerge from the current health crisis, it will be to a World indelibly marked by the events of 2020.
The extent of human and economic loss exacted by coronavirus is not yet clear. What we do know is that life will go on and dedicated professionals will continue their work in the humanitarian sectors. But even before current events unfolded, calls for radical change were becoming ever louder as irreversible climate change becomes more imminent.
I expect this trend to be magnified by the Covid-19 crisis. More people will consider alternatives to mainstream development that focus on culture and wellbeing rather than production based on economic growth. Concepts such as Buen Vivir, Ubuntu, and Degrowth may well become more popular.
What does this mean for the Project DPro practitioner? Alternative development projects are people-centered and participatory, working on social and cultural issues at grassroots level. Inevitably then, for alternative development projects local knowledge and needs analysis will be more in-depth and complex.
The Project DPro Guide has detailed information on the project identification and definition activities fundamental to this type of project. Essential activities include collecting different types of data and selecting the appropriate strategies for quantitative and qualitative data collection, triangulating the resulting data, perhaps using Bradshaw’s social needs categories, and performing needs analysis to examine current and future states.
Alternative development interventions are less tangible and harder to define. At community level, much of the data collected for such projects is qualitative, including workshops with brainstorming and mapping activities, and focus group sessions. How might you perform such data collection in the context of alternative development?
Think about the following statement by Kallis et al*:
Wealthier countries on average have higher levels of life expectancy and education than poorer ones, but above a certain level of GDP, income does not make a difference in wellbeing—equality does.
Now, consider social transformation, wellbeing and equality in your context as a development practitioner. How would you design a data collection process to understand local realities better?
This is the type of conundrum which may well assume more importance when we begin life after coronavirus. To revisit the relevant section of the Guia Project DPro go to pages 41-61.
* Kallis, G., Kostakis, V., Lange, S., Muraca, B., Paulson, S. & Schmelzer, S. (2018) Research On Degrowth. Annual Review of Environment and Resources, 43, pp. 291-316