We need to know who “people” are – men, women, children – and in what social context they live – poverty, lack of education, etc.
Photo: © Martin Garcia/ LEISA magazine


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Information from project reports tend to make people invisible by using generic terms such as household, farmers, etc. The first question of interest to development actors is who exactly lives in a household. The second question is in what context these persons live. To know people in a gendered way living in a specific social and economic context fosters empowerment and facilitates a more accurate resource allocation.

Development programmes often aim at empowering people. Empowerment means that people can take their own well-informed decisions, they know their rights and can fight for them. Empowerment is at the core of development. Around 10 per cent of the world population of around 7.4 billion live in extreme poverty, almost the same proportion are undernourished, of which many belong to agricultural smallholder societies.

These societies belong to the focus group of the development work supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

The content analysis of 84 Annual Reports of 16 Country and five Regional Programmes revealed that people to a large extent remain hidden in monitoring systems, statistics and reporting. The language of “invisibility” focuses on: household, farmer, family, herder, and entrepreneur. The public are also missing concrete information on women, men, boys and girls living in a context that needs improvements.

Language really matters!

For several reasons, information should be based on a person living in a given context.

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