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Donors Should Consider ‘Poor-Centric’ Approach

Donors Should Consider ‘Poor-Centric’ Approach To Development Work, UN Envoy Says

New York, Oct 11 2006 5:00PM

The international community should consider undertaking development differently by first asking the poor what they really want rather than the more traditional “supply-driven” approach, the United Nations’ top envoy in Liberia said today.

Alan Doss, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Liberia, said those involved in development efforts should “think about demand-driven development where poor people are asked what they really want, rather than continuing with the traditional style of supply-driven development programmes.”

Mr. Doss made the comments while opening a two-day workshop in Monrovia aimed at developing strategic priorities for the UN’s development assistance for Liberia, which he said should be measured for the real change made improving poor people’s lives.

Pointing to the remarkably quick and wide diffusion of mobile phone technology in Africa, Mr. Doss challenged participants to consider the concept of “scratch-card development” in which the poor are provided purchasing power so they can buy basic services as they see fit.

Another challenge for UN and development partners is how to reduce the burden on governments that results from too many ill-coordinated projects that use up rather than build up national capacity, he added.

Liberia’s Minister of Planning and Economic Affairs, Dr Toga McIntosh, reiterated the need to break with the past, improve donor assistance and effectiveness and urgently rebuild the country’s infrastructure to speed up the development process.

Mr. Doss has had a long UN career, much of it with the UN Development Programme (UNDP), and has formerly served as Principal Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Côte d’Ivoire and prior to that as the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sierra Leone.

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