Approach to development
The vision of development understood by BASED-UK is one influenced by the Bahá'í teachings and by systematic attempts to apply these teachings to building a world civilisation. It is one in which material and spiritual progress advance together:
"The assumptions directing most of current development planning are essentially materialistic. That is to say, the purpose of development is defined in terms of the successful cultivation in all societies of those means for the achievement of material prosperity that have, through trial and error, already come to characterize certain regions of the world. ...the underlying materialistic assumptions remain essentially unchallenged.
"...it is no longer possible to maintain the belief that the approach to social and economic development to which the materialistic conception of life has given rise is capable of meeting humanity's needs. Optimistic forecasts about the changes it would generate have vanished into the ever-widening abyss that separates the living standards of a small and relatively diminishing minority of the world's inhabitants from the poverty experienced by the vast majority of the globe's population.”
Bahá'í International Community (1995) The Prosperity of Humankind
The main protagonists in the development process are the local people themselves. BASED-UK operates on the principle that each human being is created noble, with the capacity and potential to make significant contributions to society. The masses of humanity living in conditions of poverty should not be viewed as mere recipients of benefits from aid and training. Rather, the immense potential and capacity within each person should enable them to contribute to development planning and discourse.
Principles of Development
The bedrock of a strategy for achieving material and spiritual progress is the recognition of the oneness of humanity. Although this principle is acknowledged, the concept presents fundamental challenges to the way that institutions of society carry out their functions.
Justice is an essential quality for individuals and communities. At the level of the individual, justice is the quality that enables us to distinguish truth from falsehood. It calls for fair-mindedness in our judgements and equity in our treatment of others. At the level of the group, a concern for justice is necessary for collective decision-making.
Development must take into account gender dimensions. The principle of the equality of men and women must be upheld in all development endeavours. Access to the generation and application of knowledge is an essential foundation for the development of a region. Universal education is the basic building block in enabling people to access knowledge.
Project success is measured by raising the capacity of:
1) The local community
2) The local institutions
“In an ideal project, while concrete action is directed towards visible improvement of some aspect of life, success is measured by the impact these actions have on the capacity of the community and its institutions to address development issues at increasingly higher levels of complexity and effectiveness.”
Universal House of Justice (1993) Bahá'í Social and Economic Development: Prospects for the Future
Image 1: Two girls work together at the Ruaha Baha'i agricultural school in Tanzania.
Image 2: Baha'i inspired community gardening initiative Erdenbulgan, Mongolia.Image 3: A session at the Barli Development Institute for Rural Women in Indore, India.
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