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Challenges of development in difficult sociopolitical contexts

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posted on 2014-01-01, 00:00 authored by Damien KingsburyDamien Kingsbury
In the middle of writing this chapter, I visited a friend who has been in the development industry for a couple of decades. I had not seen him for a while as he had been in Afghanistan and, for a considerable period after that, in hospital. Afghanistan has arguably been the most dangerous place in the world to do development work, perhaps since the 1960s, and, of course, undertaking development while a war is ongoing is almost a contradiction in terms. Especially in Afghanistan, but perhaps in many other ‘difficult sociopolitical contexts’, development gains have been few, extraordinarily expensive for their outcomes, and probably not sustainable. Not all development workers end up in my friend’s situation; a suicide bomber left him substantially and permanently damaged. But, just on this personal level, I have had colleagues and friends arrested, shot at, jailed and kidnapped, as well as being exposed to dangerous illnesses and, too often unstated, often long-term psychological trauma. Locals whom colleagues have worked with have experienced all this, as well as being beaten, tortured and, too often, killed. My own first rule in ‘difficult sociopolitical contexts’ is never to expose another person to danger, either at the time or, potentially, later. Yet it happens, to foreigners, to locals working with foreigners and to state employees. Development workers easily fall foul of the extremes of competing perspectives and goals, where there is no such thing as neutrality and everyone who is not a clear friend is a clear enemy.

History

Chapter number

3

Pagination

48-67

ISBN-13

9781137347626

Language

eng

Publication classification

B1.1 Book chapter

Copyright notice

2014, The Author

Extent

14

Editor/Contributor(s)

Ware A

Publisher

Palgrave Macmillan

Place of publication

Basingstoke, Eng.

Title of book

Development in difficult sociopolitical contexts : fragile, failed, pariah

Series

Rethinking international development

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