Professional Developmentalists

I often have this discussion, but I first had it with my (brilliant) friend Jo from Wan Smolbag Theatre company based in Vanuatu. When you live in a developing region like the Pacific, there are many developmental programmes to help these nations. The problem is that there seems to be little evidence that the nations are actually 'developing' despite decades of support and many, many, many dollars spent on this. I know that commentators would like to say that development takes time and they often talk of how Europe took thousands of years to get where it is today, whereas we're asking our Pacific nations to come up to speed in decades. 

All of this maybe true, but I've a sneaky suspicion that part of the problem lies in some (if not many) of the mindsets of the so called developmental experts. What I see here in Fiji is very many highly qualified and highly paid developmentalists who travel around the world normally employed by the UN, ADB, WHO, IMF and so on, who land on the Pacific shores, stay a few years and then move to another posting often as a promotion. Conversations with this people is like speaking to an alien. There's a world of postings, conferences in Madrid, presentations at the UN assembly, Ecuador, Cambodia, friends in Nairobi, that time I bumped into Nelson Mandela. I have a friend here who has been 'lucky' enough to join the UN as an expert, and she knows that if she gets the right qualifications her entry into this alien social sphere is guaranteed - if it's what she wants, I hope she gets it.

Here's my pause for thought that Jo helped to clarify me. if a developmental expert is so good shouldn't they by definition be making themselves redundant? That is they should be so good at bringing about the development of the country, society or community that they are working in, that they should be no longer needed. They only way that a developmentalist could stay 'professional' would be to move to another region that hasn't had the benefit of their expertise. 

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.