I was reminded by a reader that Robert Chambers of the IDS is known to be a strong proponent of bottom up development, because it overcomes some of the issues of the complexity of development.
At the same time I found a recent blog post by Ben Ramalingam at the Aid on the edge of chaos blog about a meeting held earlier in May about Complexity and International Development. I am very jealous because Eric Beinhoecker, Robert Chambers and Ben Ramalingam (lead author of a fantastic paper of a 2008 Overseas Development Institute working paper ‘Exploring the Science of Complexity: Ideas and Implications for International Development and Humanitarian Efforts’) were all in the same room talking about complexity and development. Can we have some of this in South Africa too? I have in previous posts mentioned some of the work these gurus are doing on complexity.
For some insights into the discussions at that meeting head over to the blogsite of Duncan Green (Oxfam) where he wrote a post titled “so the world is complex – what do we do differently“.
Perhaps what I neglected to say this explicitly on my previous post is that bottom-up development is about much more the Local Economic Development. You would have noticed that in my recent posts I have associated bottom up diagnosis with innovation systems, industrial development, advanced manufacturing, the service sector and many other topics. We have to strive to understand the system, and not get caught up with specific target groups. This will take us further from understanding and carefully intervening into the complex local system.
Also to clarify. You do not diagnose the complexity of the system by analysing data. You do this by engaging with people, and allowing them to reach a deeper understanding of the system that they are part of.
Let me know if I again forgot to say something!!