A manifesto of sorts

Development work is designed to change people’s lives. Its specific goal is impacting human beings and the way they live. Done badly, it does damage. This makes it inherently serious, as serious as practicing law or medicine and it should be treated that way. If you want to practice medicine, you don’t start your own clinic. You go to medical school.

I am not telling you not to get involved. We need good people working in development. We need them desperately. But warm bodies and enthusiasm don’t help people. Good programs help people. And it’s very hard to create good programs if you are starting from scratch. There is an enormous body of knowledge, both academic and practical, on how to improve peoples’ lives. Not taking advantage of that body of knowledge is unfair to everyone involved.