One of the questions that should be asked more often in economic development is: who benefits?

This came up several times in an interview I conducted today with a development professional. We were talking about policies and investments intended for development and how these don’t necessarily reach the people they are intended for.

An abstract example might be a skills development project aimed at making people more employable. Most of the money for that might go to the planning committee or people involved in setting up the strategy. There might be a building that’s built or IT infrastructure that’s set up.

But, in this example, it’s likely that little of the monetary impact is making it in to the community. There might be investment, but a significant portion is absorbed by high income earners who are consulting on the process.

Watch the flow

I’m not saying that the planning groups, infrastructure teams or managing organisation should not get paid. These are key elements in economic development projects.

However, the question of who benefits needs to be kept at the center of the planning and the discussion on such projects. And the benefits must be aligned to the needs of the community. Better yet, the community should be involved. 

We can improve the way we do development by watching the flow. And seeing whether the policies and investments are reached their intended recipients.

Image is from a small park near my home 🙂

Blog: 306/365. Click here to read about my #365of25 journey
Song of the day: Starley - Call on me [Ryan Riback Remix]

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