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WHAT IS SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT?2014-01-07

"The trouble with much overseas aid is that it meets the needs of today with no thought to those of tomorrow."

Sadly, this observation contains all too much truth and is often made by those who know best, those who are most closely involved in such work. In the words of SEED's Senior Community Development Worker, Robert Kazunga, "Too many people have developed dependency syndrome and therefore think that NGOs should give them everything for free."

That's why SEED places such an emphasis on sustainability. The key to sustainable development is empowering communities in a way that future generations are able to meet their own needs.

Local produce ready for international market

Take Murehwa. Three years ago, SEED started work in this rural area, about 70km north-east of Harare. Our initial needs assessment revealed a variety of agricultural, educational, health, social and financial needs, and we agreed to provide the villagers with training, tools and seeds for a market gardening project.

Three years on and the community's success has not only been showcased at their recent horticultural show, as a model for the surrounding villages, but they have now been approached by an international export company. In recognition of the quality of the training SEED provided for the farmers, the company's representatives have offered to sign a contract with the group. Everything that the farmers will require - in terms of seeds and fertiliser - will now be provided by the export company, who will then purchase the produce that they grow. SEED's community development workers have advised Murehwa's farmers on the potential risks and benefits associated with the contract, and all parties are keen to press ahead.

It seems the team were right when they predicted, "this is going to be our most successful project in recent years and could make a huge difference in the community's lives almost instantly." (See Learning How to Avert an Ongoing Crisis)

Now that the villagers are earning a meaningful income from their land, the families are better able to provide for their own food, health, housing, and schooling needs.

This is sustainable development. This is how to make poverty history.

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