Local people dancing local dances


Acumen talks a lot about the importance of listening to the poor. One of the reasons they believe in a markets-based approach to development is that the fear of going bankrupt is a pretty good incentive to listen to your customers! But what if a market-based approach can’t work everywhere? At dinner the other night a new Kenyan friend who works for a local NGO said something that brought to life how difficult ensuring the poor are listened to can be:

“Donors preach to us a lot about involving local people. But they make our deadlines so tight that all we end up with is a spot at the opening ceremony where local people dance local dances in local dress. What worries me most is that I’m not sure that anyone really minds.”

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