09 Jun 2010

Does development aid reinforce peace ?


Conference Schengen Peace Foundation, Mai-2010An experience of community development among ethnic minorities thanks to responsible microfinance.
It was the topic of the conference I hold in Schengen, Luxemburg on the 29th May, as part of the World Peace Forum organised by the Schengen Peace Foundation.

Development : a right or a condition ?

The concept of development raises itself some questions : what is development ? Probably the protection against disease and disability but also the access to self-consciousness. And what else ? I like to cite Amartya Sen and his theory of the individual choice. As an economist of the poverty, Nobel Price 1989, Sen analysed why most of poor people stay poor. Everybody was born with some endowments, some with abilities in paintings, others with abilities in mathematics … for instance. Everybody should be entitled to use his abilities. But how to use them, when you live in a remote area, without any connexion with the rest of the world ? Individual entitlements – everybody should by default enjoy – are in this situation not applicable : while living in an isolated village, you will never have the possibility to paint and exhibit your work of art, or you will never go to the university and study mathematics.
If by chance, you can go away from your remote living area, you will be entitled through a combination of social and business opportunities (what Sen calls “functionings”) to transform your endowments into capabilities … and as a results, reach some achievements. To use a modern wording, you will have the opportunity to “express yourself”.

What does MICROFINANCE bring along in this respect ?

When it comes up to microfinance, we can reasonably consider that it contributes to build up peace, if and only if it is run under a responsible way, i.e. without getting aside the social goal (alongside credit, microfinance services should also include capacity building and technical assistance to the beneficiaries in order to help them grow their business on the long term).
Too many surveys have shed light on the damages of a microfinance movement that is too much focussed on financial results, loosing in the same time its social roots. It is regularly reported situations of overindebtness, social disruption in the community of beneficiaries, and sometimes suicides among countries from Asia, Africa or Latin America.

According to Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Price 1996, the access to credit should be a human right. Credit definitely takes part to the process of development.

2 Responses to Does development aid reinforce peace ?
  1. Its great as your other articles : D, thankyou for posting . “A gift in season is a double favor to the needy.” by Publilius Syrus.

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