Grassroots development

Grassroots development: from "top down" to "bottom up"

The classic form of development cooperation that came into being in the Sixties has disappeared. Western organisations that set up projects, however idealistic they were, often used a "top-down" approach and based this on Western values. They unintentionally ignored cultural differences through their efforts and were often unilaterally focused on economic progress, without taking links with other problems into consideration. 

Over the last decade, initiatives have begun in numerous developing countries that apply that scenario in reverse. Referred to as grassroots development, they use a "bottom up" approach where the input and involvement of the local population are central.

Light center Mozambique

Broad agenda

In order to improve the quality of life—which is the primary goal—grassroots projects have a broad agenda, which includes improving income, education, information, health care, emancipation of minorities and vulnerable groups, stimulating social cohesion, self-confidence and democratic awareness, to name just a few.  Contributions from governments, non-governmental organisations and/or companies are still essential in allowing these projects to reach their full potential. But rather than playing a leading role, as was previously the case, they now provide consultancy, facilitation and support services. 

The success of grassroots projects again underlines the importance of an active role for the local population — this is the only way to achieve sustainable results.

Background TenCate Field in a Box