GlassFrog strives to give a voice to everyone unwilling to accept the status quo of international aid and to create impactful solutions to global issues. Visit our new website for up to date information on our work.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Meaning of International Development

Read a blog post today titled "Development as Happiness" and it got me thinking about the meaning of international development. When you use Wikipedia to search - international development - the first sentence of the article states "International Development is a concept that lacks a universally accepted definition." When you do a Google image search of - international development - you get this image you see to your left.

In today's society, there are as much foreign aid agencies out there as there are developing countries. How can each of those agencies be sure that what they are doing are effectively achieving results, when the definition itself is not defined. In the above mentioned blog post, the author keeps mentioning a "yardstick of success" and that there is no one coherent way to measure the success of these agencies. Ultimately, there is no end goal that these agencies are working towards. The author suggested using happiness as a measure of success but that in itself is an abstract concept that delves into the philosophical meaning of happiness. Perhaps the GINI Index or the World Bank Development Economic Research Group - Governance Indicator could help.

USAID recently published its new Evaluation Policy which strictly distinguishes performance-based and result-based evaluations. It also plans on allocating 3% of its program's budget solely on evaluation. However even with these new guidelines, nothing is set in stone, as it states on its website "this policy sets out an ambitious re-commitment to learn as we "do"."

Article on USAID New Evaluation Policy.

- GlassFrog Blogger Jackel


  1. I think that the reason "international development" does not have a solid definition is due to the fact that there is no one specific way to provide international aid, which often leads to developmental progress. The fact is that each disaster is unique and requires different sorts of actions to be taken. I agree that a sufficient way to measure the progress of international development could be happiness but I think a more accurate indication of the progress being made should be the economic health of the area affected.

  2. That might be true if the definition of international development are solely referring to disasters. There many other aid agencies that don't focus on disaster relief but more on improving education, gender empowerment, economic sustainability etc.

  3. international development is a global governance issue that evolves and can't be defined in to one compact tidy explanation...
    it can, it does, and it should vary from immediate disaster relief situations to economic policies and various forms of financing, which will impact issues from food security to 'access to education' one specific ngo can address all of these, no one specific expert can address all of these, no one specific government can address all of these...