Sid Israel
Sunday, 11 March 2018 Written by 

What is International Development?


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.

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