OXFAMExchange, Winter 2012

What if development took the kind of time and commitment it takes to raise a child? (It does.)

Oxfam's work is about structural change—a long, slow process. How slow? Well, we generally think about our field programs as approximately 15-year investments. In other words, a development program requires almost as much time and commitment as it takes to raise a child.

A shorter commitment won't get the job done. It takes time to help people build skills and infrastructure, to get policies changed, and to ensure that governments spend their money more effectively.

Smart development demands monitoring and evaluation. Organizations should be accountable to report not only what they do, but also how they measure it. Don't believe stories that guarantee long-term impact after one or two years' investment; that's barely time to lay some groundwork.

We all crave the easy answer, the quick solution, but if eradicating poverty were simple, people living in poverty would have sorted it out long ago. They may lack resources like land, but they certainly don't lack intelligence or insight. Poverty is a global challenge—one that we can overcome together, but listening and learning from people living in poverty, and developing solutions with them, takes time and sustained effort.

This issue of OXFAMExchange includes inspiring stories, but they are just snapshots from a family album: moments in a long journey together. Each story is ultimately about perseverance and the need for long-term commitment.

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