The toyota land cruiser is to all cars as X is to set of x. And things about Panama

Monday, April 21, 2008

Dani Rodrik on developement

Every Sunday the national paper here in Panama , La Prensa, publishes a pull out digest of the New York times from the previous week. A couple of months ago I saw an article with a quotation the really struck a cord:

“Like most Turks of my generation I thought I would end up doing engineering,” he said. But at Harvard, “a new world opened for me and I started to understand that the problems of underdevelopment were not technical problems in the sense of a lack of engineers or a lack of doctors. It was a problem of social organization.”

NYT, January 30th, 2007 LOUIS UCHITELLE

My experience in the Campo is similar, it is not lack of knowledge always that keeps people down, but problems in organization, lack of leadership, and fighting between families that keeps them from working together that results in ´underdevelopment.´

Useally, seminars on technical stuff are more important because they let farmers get together from different areas and get to know each other. This becomes much more valuable than the actual technical knowledge they gain from the seminar, getting to know each other and gaining trust between each other allows them to organise better, and gives them confidence to trade information and share experience.

For example, last January I helped to put on a seminar on drying. About thirteen farmers came to the seminar to learn how to better dry their coffee. Two of those farmers went and taught farmers from Neighboring towns the techniques that they had learned, which helped to strengthen connections between the farmers. It is hard to quantify the output or results from this work, but it is probably the most important and sustainable work we do in Peace Corps, basically being an excuse for people to get together and get to know each other better so they can have better organisations.