From Handouts to Hand-ups: Integrated Development Approaches as the Means to Achieving Sustainable Development

March 23, 2015

By Mary Kate Costello, Policy Analyst, The Hunger Project

As the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals nears, various stakeholders are discussing possible development methodologies to efficiently yield self-reliant, participatory communities for long-term, sustainable development. Considerable focus is being placed on cross-sectoral integration methodologies that break silo-specific development practices. Significantly, these comprehensive approaches are solid grounds for empowering people to become agents of their own change. This Integrated development is increasingly being seen as the answer, dispelling myths about the “traditional” way many people look at development.


Courtesy: The Hunger Project

Consider famine, which refers to emergency situations of life or death. Now consider chronic hunger [and malnutrition], which occurs when people lack opportunity to earn adequate income, become educated, acquire skills, meet basic health needs and have a voice in decisions that affect their community. Non-emergency situations will not be solved in the long-term by simply feeding mouths of the hungry. Development experts have argued that models failing to empower hungry and impoverished people risk worsening systemic root(s) of the problem.

For example, poorly managed food-aid distribution may destabilize local prices, undermining local production and trade. Integrated programming that empowers people in all facets of their daily life to become the principal authors and agents of their own development will require little or zero resource and service provisions. This not only mitigates dependency, but also paves grounds for community mobilization to establish social accountability mechanisms.

The development community has a unique role in that it can catalyze effective partnerships between citizens and local governments so that basic needs can be met at even the most grassroots levels. This can also improve transparency and strengthen governance at the most local levels. Simultaneously, through training sessions, rights awareness and leadership skill development, development actors can mobilize citizens to leverage their own resources and capacities to fill gaps in their development, building pride and one’s sense of dignity.

There are 800 million people living in chronic hunger, whose vision, mobilization, entrepreneurial spirit and confidence will transform our world. Every such person requires a multi-faceted, sustainable solution based on self-reliance to build a sustainable future – for all of humanity – without hunger and poverty.