Trust and Engagement in International Development
Development aid is often times called out for failing to deliver. Getting buy-in requires reaching out and engaging with and communicating with local counterparts at all levels in order to gain their trust. Local counterparts as well as other key stakeholders have to be involved and have to feel that they are involved. This is essential in order to gain their trust (and vice versa) and an appreciation of the issues and concerns as well as local needs and circumstances. Most important, trust is needed to be able to garner their ongoing participation in the development process on the way to achieving the goals and results intended in the first place.
Building trust is not easy. The road to sound development is littered with the remains of unsuccessful projects where trust was not achieved in the first place. The early failings on the Green Revolution in getting needed technologies to small scale farmers in the developing world is probably one of the most telling and well documented (Putting Farmers First - Robert Chambers). Today, a body of knowledge about participatory engagement and decision making as well as extensive experience in delivering aid has meant that most everyone working in development is aware of this requirement. It's now part of the "development curriculum".
Getting the message across and building trust however, continues to be a major stumbling block in delivering the results that the beneficiaries as well as the donor agencies, taxpayers and private sector investors that support development aid efforts have come to expect.
Policy Analyst, Strategist & Consultant