How International Development can increase its impact: Follow the lead of local experts

Dr Karambu Ringera & Inemarie Dekker

The decision-making power is not with local NGOs

When I came back from a week working in Kenya, where I interviewed colleagues about the solutions and opportunities they had for a follow-up programme, my Dutch manager told me: “I don’t care what they told you in Kenya, I know better what should be in that programme proposal.”

Solutions made in far-away places don’t create the impact we want to make

It is certainly not how I learned international development should be like: being supportive to decisions made by the people concerned and co-creating solutions that serve them best; not northerners leading the solutions. But still, what makes us think in the North that we do have the solutions for far-away problems?

What lies beneath: an inequitable system

It was only last year, that I came to realise that these inequalities, were there for a reason. It’s the system itself that makes us — northern development workers — think we can come up with solutions for far-away problems and that puts the decision-making power in white hands.

How can we change systemic inequality in international development?

As an individual it’s not easy — and probably even impossible — to be in the system and change it at the same time. (I’ve tried — maybe that’s a follow-up story ;)) And we do need to change the system, to be able to actually collaborate and achieve better results and more impact in international development.

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iMPACT direct

iMPACT direct

iMPACT direct connects a large group of donors to underfunded locally-led NGOs. We strengthen these impactful non-profits by making donating simple and direct.