All Development is Local: implementing programs of empowerment to ensure sustainable development

Four organizations came together during the 2014 World Bank Annual Meetings to discuss the importance of local-level and women-centric programming to ensure sustainable development for all. The main argument defended that if there is not local democracy and development methodologies conducive to empowering citizens, human dignity is neither recognized nor preserved. Without human dignity, therein lies hopelessness, helplessness, and extreme poverty and hunger.

John Coonrod, Executive Vice President of The Hunger Project, opened the presentation with a sobering picture of a young mother farming with an archaic hoe and a baby strapped to her back. Her world is a six mile radius, yet it is unlikely that there are government services within her reach. Each person is entitled to access to government services, not only preserving life, right and thus dignity. Such a young, impoverished, rural woman arguably has no rights and is denied her human dignity. Therefore, it is at this most local level that development initiatives and the strengthening of governance systems must take place.

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Methodologies and best practices for local-level development are possible for a variety of development actors. World Vision’s Social Accountability Advisor, Hwa Yoo, explained the Citizen Voice and Action workshops as a means to develop or improve social accountability mechanisms at the grassroots level. This is done through mobilization of people through a series of innovative education and training sessions. Similarly, Marybeth Hastings of Center for Health and Gender Equality (CHANGE) discussed how to advocate at the local level with certain actors to establish effective partnerships with local nationals and minority groups to implement sustainable development programs.

Peace Direct’s Local First movement, described by Board Member Bridget Moix, details the local-level frameworks of several organizations and the best practices associated with identifying local resources and capacities prior to providing development aid and resources. This helps to ensure that development is efficiently and effectively reaching the poorest and hungriest but also engaging and empowering people to become “animators” of their own development.

The Sustainable Development Goals will be a universal call to eradicate hunger and poverty for all persons without distinction, requiring good, local governance at all levels. Within the [short] fifteen year window to reach the 2030 goals, development initiatives must be made – increasingly so – from the bottom-up to ensure that development occurs sustainably for those most in need and most vulnerable.

Watch videos from the panel below.


Intro – John Coonrod, The Hunger Project


Peace Direct’s Local First Framework – Bridget Moix, Peace Direct


Grassroots and Sustainable Advocacy – Marybeth Hastings, Center for Health and Gender Equality (CHANGE)


Strategic Advocacy for Local Level Programming – WASH Advocates


Citizen Voice and Action Workshop – Hwa Yoo, World Vision

5 thoughts on “All Development is Local: implementing programs of empowerment to ensure sustainable development

  1. Dear Kate, Thank you very much for sharing the development discussions. It is the real fact that community specially local people knows better their struggles, talents, resources and improving ways. It is found in Poor and under developed country that literacy rate is not satisfactory and people have less knowledge about citizen rights. They are suffering and thinking it is God gifted………….

    To eradicate hunger and poverty for all persons without distinction, requiring good, local governance at all levels.


    • happy to have shared with you. I am glad that you found it interesting and relevant. Please let me know if you are ever interested in writing blog pieces for either of our sites. We are happy to do this to help increase your advocacy outreach for those folks that receive your public emails, etc.


  2. I know it’s unintentional, but claiming that “All Development is Local” hides the specificity, and does not help advocating , genuine…Local Development. Which should not be understood as “development that happens locally” (this is a truism: as all development ends up in some locality), but rather as development that leverages the (physical, economic, institutional, cultural) resources of a locality. Genuine Local Development (LD) is more than the localization of national development, it’s endogenous and incremental with respect to national development efforts. If one starts with understanding LD when advocating it, one might get further in achieving it.


    • Hello Leonardo,

      Thank you for your insightful message. LD sounds like a great company.

      All Development is Local was simply the name of an event that we hosted and intended to state that all sectors in development need attention at the local level. We too often see development approaches that are “top-down,” and prove less efficient and broad-reaching as they could with local-level or community-led development. This also links closely with our mission to empower people to become the agents of their own change in the absence of short-term and non-sustainable resource or service allocations.


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