In the space of international development globally, one of the key strategies that allow for effective implementation of projects is the cordial but professional relationships between international and local staff/ people.
In the global South, most projects and interventions are implemented with technical and financial support from the global North. While some people have been critical about this financial support, there have been recorded successes from these interventions. These successes do not come easy because local and international workers face tensions daily in their workspace. In some cases, the tensions have caused the failure of projects. Some of these tensions are reported in the form of cultural differences, religious differences, and disparities in remuneration between local and international staff. These further expose issues around power and privilege that exist between funders and local structures.
As a development worker for many years who has volunteered and worked with international partners across different health and governance projects in Nigeria and the UK, I was invited by supervisor Dr. Julie King to do a presentation on the “Relationship and tensions between local and international development partners”. Drawing from my experience, I shared with the students how I navigated these terrains and offered my suggestions on how they can learn from my story to make a difference in the world.
In my closing, I noted: “As prospective development practitioners, it is important you recognise your privileged position while working with local people and development partners. In doing this, you will balance the power dynamics, ensure a better understanding of the local cultures you may be working in and improve project delivery”.
It was humbling to be on the panel with:
1. David Kozar: Development Manager, International Projects QUT who has developed and managed over 50 international aid and development programs.
2. Ahsan Kayami: A Doctoral researcher at QUT with past experience working with the UN Mission in Dafur (UNAMID).
Special thanks to my supervisor Dr. Julie Anne King, for the invitation to share my experience and learn from other development practitioners. @ QUT (Queensland University of Technology)