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My Vision for International Development and Social Change in Africa (Liberia)

The Fundamentals of Economics for International Development is a course that not only exposed the economic aspects of development initiatives and theories or frameworks which shape these initiatives, but it also created a new ideology as to how development projects should be carried out in developing countries in order to achieve sustainable livelihoods and create economic stability for individuals, communities and the nation at large.

My quest to learn and understand how international development theories are formulated and the discourses associated with these theoretical frameworks was significantly shaped by this course and other courses most especially Development Theory with Dr. Ellen Foley. Mankind has always been in plight for a better and sustainable way of life. This process can also be traced as far back as the period of the hunters and gatherers when man sought out food and other materials by hunting and gathering. As humans created settlements and became to make farms and gather wealth the idea of sustaining these resources becomes unquestionable. Thus, immediately after World War II the issue of development became a paramount concern to most countries, especially countries of Latin America, Southeast Asia and Africa. This paper is a reflection of my personal vision of development and my specific role in making sure that said vision becomes a reality.

Development theories the world over is constructed based on the context of major global events, which interplay with how these theories are formulated and constructed. This process involves in almost all cases the tearing down of traditional structures and institutions for the sake of modernity, globalization and progress (Lemert 2004). Most scholars in the development arena including economists argued that development projects have failed to bridge the increasing gap between rich and poor countries, developed and developing countries, and the “West” with the “Rest.” Does this means that development projects have not provided any significant advancement in human existence including economic stability, food security, progresses on the eradication of HIV/AIDS and other diseases, poverty reduction and so on? No, through development projects other countries are able to produce more agricultural produce, provide microfinance opportunities for females to encourage financial empowerment, massive reduction in the spread of Malaria and HIV/AIDS (the case of Senegal) and universal primary education in the case of Ghana. Development projects in some countries in Africa and Southeast Asia contributed to economic recovery. So, the argument that development projects has failed is vague and does not take into account all the good things that has been generated in other areas as a result of the direct link between development projects and national economic growth.

In January 2004 I established the Sustainable Agricultural Program for Liberia (SAP-Liberia) a non-profit, community-based organization in Liberia to address the felt needs of returnees and internally displaced people created as a result of the fourteen (14) years civil crisis. I decided to establish this local community-based organization, because I believe that grassroots community-based approach to development, which encourage and promote local participation, is an effective way of engaging a community in the process of addressing their own problems. The organization was established with the purpose of rendering services at the frontline of community-based recovery developmental programs without discrimination to race, gender, ethnicity, religion, culture, and political affiliation. SAP-Liberia seeks to achieve the above stated purpose by collaborating with local institutions, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), schools and religious organization as well as international agencies such as the Germen Technical Cooperation (GTZ), United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the government of Liberia in implementing the below listed goals: to engage in sustainable agricultural programs; promote environmental conservation; engage in sanitation programs; participate in the rehabilitation and construction of roads and bridges; facilitate the process of formal, non-formal and informal skills training programs; renovate and construct public facilities that were damaged as a result of the civil war; collaborate with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in the repatriation, resettlement, and reintegration process; to promote and participate in the distribution of relief items (food and non-food items) to returnees and internally displaced people and to encourage research.

SAP-Liberia is a development agency with grassroots connections that encourage local participation of stakeholders to create substantial social change. We are able to provide about 20 hectares of agricultural lands to local farmers, provision of educational materials to six primary schools, and facilitated series of training sessions in environmental sustainability and awareness campaign for the eradication of HIV/AIDS. You can learn more about SAP-Liberia at: http://www.wix.com/sapliberia/sap-liberia and we also do have a facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/profile.php?id=1423224869.

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