What is development? In pictures!

Development Cartoons bubble diagram

By ‘development’ I mean a situation in which people are in charge of their own decisions and have fair opportunities to make a good life. The left hand side of the bubble diagram (beloved visualisation tool of the development sector) shows some symbols of what we associate with development:

  • freedom of expression (human rights)
  • the right to demonstrate, and an independent judiciary (democracy)
  • easy communications (associated with everything from symmetry of market information to civic organising to facilitating remittances to… gossiping about relatives)
  • functioning institutions
  • sustainable livelihoods
  • maternal health (one of the Millennium Development Goals, also indicative of gender equality and general health)
  • personal empowerment (the schoolgirl also symbolises the one single thing that has the biggest positive effect on economic and human development: educating girls.)

The right-hand side of the diagram shows how development organisations can use cartoons to turbo-charge the effects of our work. Why spend months on a research project if only ten people are likely to read your report? Why start a new project from scracth if another organisation has done a similar thing in the same municipality last year? Others are more likely to take in your message, internalise it and benefit from it, if you tempt them with a nice image from Development Cartoons!

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