Sunday, March 23, 2008

Economic development tourism

Can you "do development" in a two week trip? Unless you're a star surgeon or possess some other ultra-skill, my answer is an emphatic 'no'.

The contribution of organizations like Habitat for Humanity, who send Western volunteers to build homes in poor countries, has never been obvious to me. Is there a shortage of unskilled construction labor in developing countries of which I'm unaware? ...

Yesterday I mourned the extractive and self-serving quality of many student research trips. For me, two-week development adventures fall clearly in the tourism category as well. Is there an argument for these trips actually helping? If so, is the benefit even close to the best use of the thousands of dollars it took to get that person out there?
--Chris Blattman on narcissistic service trips

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