Sid Israel
Sid Israel

Sid Israel

While international development deals with the fortification of the independent capabilities of regions and countries to promote an increase in the populations quality of life in a sustainable manner, humanitarian aid is an activity intended to solve a specific need dealing with the population’s basic conditions of life, without the attempt to bring about the population’s economic-social independence. We usually see the provision of food as humanitarian aid while the provision of fishing rods, tractors or technological knowledge is grasped as development work. In many cases there’s a need for the provision of humanitarian assistance in times of emergency as a result of wars or natural disasters, when the population lacks basic conditions such as food, water, clothes, shelter, etc.

The conversation about development in the first years emerged from a consideration of the welfare approach, which related to development as a “public product” along the lines of education or health, services that must be supplied to all those being served by the State or any other entity (such as nonprofit organizations).  The majority of the activities and funds that have been invested in the field of development were focused on supplying various welfare products, out of a belief that this supply would reduce poverty and promote development.  However, the welfare approach ignored political economic relationships among various entities, as well as local conditions preventing the ability of local players to take advantage of the assistance that had been given to them.

The “rights approach” of development brings a relationship to human rights into the consideration and implementation of development. In essence, this approach relates to service recipients in the same way as to team members participating on the playing field, who have the right to the fruits of the development.  The main point of field work, according to this approach, is accomplished through reinforcing populations, in order to make them capable of requesting development and taking advantage of the assistance given to them, on the one hand, and through strengthening the various government bodies, on the other hand, in order to enable them to identify the needs of the population and satisfy those needs, which also seem like rights.  In this way, an emphasis is placed on the obligation of the State to supply appropriate services and to strengthen the local population and transform it into being self – sufficient.

The sustainability approach or self – sustaining development began to develop in the 1970s, and received a significant impetus with the publication of the Brundtland Report by the UN in 1987. With the accumulation of testimonies regarding the influence of industrialization and modernization on natural resources, support for sustainable development grew, which relates to the needs of present and future generations in an egalitarian manner, and demands that the environmental influences of economic growth be taken into consideration in the planning process. The innovation of this approach is the fact that it relates to development in all the countries of the world, and not only in developing countries.  Nevertheless, the demand for sustainable development in developing countries is limited, in that development of this kind necessitates wider economic investment in long term processes, which developing countries, on principle, request that they not be required to do.


Development work promotes international and inter-organizational connections and collaborations, from an understanding that regions and countries under conditions of poverty, or a relatively low level of development, can benefit from international assistance or collaboration.  International assistance work was established with the founding of the Bretton Woods organizations after World War II, among them the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, which were established in order to aid various countries to regain their strength after the war.  During the 1980s, when many developing countries found themselves in difficulties with a budgetary deficit, these organizations began to supply them with credit under alternative terms, which mainly included changes in the management of the country that were meant to lead to development.  These included the liberalization of markets and the promotion of openness, transparency and privatization.  While some of the countries managed to gain strength following this assistance, most of them, especially the African countries, did not succeed in leveraging this international aid into long term development.  Included among the additional international companies were aid organizations of the UN (the Development Program, the Environment Program, the World Health Organization, etc.) as well as additional international banks, such as the African Development Bank and the Asian Development Bank.


In addition to the international development entities, many of the developed countries operate a government branch of international development and cooperation, similar to the Israeli MASHAV (the Center for International Cooperation), whose role it is to assist development in the world in a variety of activities and fields  — each country’s branch according to their policy and resources.  MASHAV, for example, works mainly on training decision makers from developing countries and developing projects in the many areas in which Israel has knowledge and ability, such as agriculture, water, gender, education and regional development.  Not only public bodies are active in the area of development; many private entities, profit making and non-profit, are involved as well.  Some of them operate from their bases in developed countries and some within the developing countries themselves.

Historically, “aid” mainly meant the transfer of funds and credit to the governments of developing countries. Since the end of the 1990s, the transfer of funds to the local level has been increasing, to local authorities, non-governmental organizations, communities or to the individuals themselves (as in the case of micro financing organizations).  In addition, many of the funds are given to specific projects and not to general budgets.  The reason for this is that dozens of years of donations and assistance to government budgets did not succeed in bringing about significant and long term improvement.  In recent years, an emphasis has been placed on funding sustainable projects that can sustain themselves over time, even after outside funding ends.


In addition to financial assistance, developed countries and various other bodies also supply equipment, food, knowledge and experts and are very involved in strengthening the organizational and institutional systems of local workers in the field of development, out of a desire to increase the independence of the local population and decrease its dependence on international aid.


Development is a process that creates growth, progress, positive change or the addition of physical, economic, environmental, social and demographic components.  The purpose of development is a rise in the level and quality of life of the population, and the creation or expansion of local regional income and employment opportunities, without damaging the resources of the environment.  Development is visible and useful, not necessarily immediately, and includes an aspect of quality change and the creation of conditions for a continuation of that change.

The international agenda began to focus on development beginning in the second half of the twentieth century.  An understanding developed that economic growth did not necessarily lead to a rise in the level and quality of life for populations all over the world;  there was a need to place an emphasis on specific policies that would channel resources and enable social and economic mobility for various layers of the population.

Through the years, professionals and various researchers developed a number of definitions and emphases for the term “development.” Amartya Sen, for example, developed the “capability approach,” which defined development as a tool enabling people to reach the highest level of their ability, through granting freedom of action, i.e., freedom of economic, social and family actions, etc.  This approach became a basis for the measurement of development by the HDI (Human Development Index), which was developed by the UN Development Program (UNDP) in 1990.  Martha Nussbaum developed the abilities approach in the field of gender and emphasized the empowerment of women as a development tool.

In contrast, professionals like Jeffrey Sachs and Paul Collier focused on mechanisms that prevent or oppress development in various countries, and cause them to linger in abject poverty for dozens of years.  These are the various poverty traps, including civil wars, natural resources and poverty itself.  The identification of these traps enables relating to political – economic – social conditions in a country in an attempt to advance development.  One of the emphases in the work of Jeffrey Sacks is the promotion of sustainable development, which believes in growth and development in order to raise the standard of living for citizens of the world today, through relating to the needs of environmental resources and the coming generations of the citizens of the world.

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