I believe local and global support for poverty reduction can work together. I believe in scale and community-based local development.
Recently I experienced a conversation in Congo that reinforced this belief. It also stimulated thoughts about scale. Here’s how. If the resources of a major denomination such as The United Methodist Church were focused, coordinated and applied to community-based development and public policy, they would be potentially transformative.
I heard local interfaith clergy, UMC bishops and hospital administrators from across Africa call for assistance for education, communication, health and economic development. It occurred to me if in-country expertise at the grassroots, volunteer mission teams from outside, the skills of general agencies and financial resources from various contributors were coordinated in a focused effort to reduce poverty and improve health, it would bring a wealth of experience, expertise and financing together in an unprecedented way.
If an integrated educational effort were conducted in which volunteers were informed about policies that would further poverty eradication and provided with action steps to support them, it would create a platform for citizen accountability for humanitarian assistance among experienced, informed people.
And if the church had a global trade specialist in its General Board of Church and Society tracking humanitarian assistance and monitoring it to influence policy-makers and keeping this citizen constituency informed and actively supporting policies for good governance and accountable use of humanitarian assistance, it would complete the connection between local and global.
There’s no lack of critique about the failure of humanitarian aid and piecemeal, siloed application of development assistance. From William Easterly to Paul Farmer , Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDun to Paul Collier the experts have spoken. A consistent, integrated approach connected from the grassroots to global policy combining skills and commitment at every level could be a powerful force for change.