A better way to manage development

BMJ 2004; 329 doi: (Published 11 November 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:1192
  1. Peter Burgess, co-founder and chief executive officer (
  1. Afrifund Group, New York

    I worked for the first time on a development project in 1978—a multistate agricultural project in India. After travelling around rural India for two months I came to realise how much poor people were able to do with very little. But the project also raised the question of what it was that kept people so poor. A shortage of resources was part of the problem—but only part.

    Some time before, while I was working on a project to establish production facilities in Nigeria, I was directly confronted with the crisis of dying children in a country with huge oil wealth. Money was not the whole solution, by a long shot. The country was newly rich, but the people were getting poorer.

    Something else also became obvious to me during my years of working in relief and development. Systems and organisation that worked well in the world's developed countries (the “North”) just did not seem to work in developing countries (the “South”).

    I would be of most value with my eyes and ears open and my mouth shut

    The relief and development industry is more than 40 years old. …

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