Policymakers Developing Post-2015 Development Goals Must Listen To Development Workers

“My worry, as the high-level panel on post-2015 development goals meets this week, is that my voice — and those of many others working at the sharp end of development — won’t ultimately have much influence,” Francess Fornah, head of the school of midwifery in Makeni, Sierra Leone, writes in the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters” blog. “Every day, thousands of community health workers, voluntary groups, teachers, entrepreneurs and civil servants engage in development activities in their own communities. [They] know what works, because they’re out there doing it; and they know what doesn’t work, because they’ve seen it fail,” she continues.

“There’s a real danger that the post-2015 process — though inspired by the same noble aims as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) — will also share their failing,” she says, adding, “That is to say, they’ll be a set of goals and targets created by distant elites, and they’ll treat people as passive recipients of aid and development.” She discusses her experience training midwives in Sierra Leone, and writes, “Birth assistants working in maternity wards and communities don’t need another system that replaces MDG five, creates a whole new layer of bureaucracy, and forces donors and governments to rethink their priorities.” Instead, she says the panel “must listen to people actively engaged in development in their own communities,” “they must build on what has already been achieved,” and “we need to find better ways to ensure governments are accountable to people living in poverty, and to the people actively working in poor and marginalized communities” (11/2).

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