Flexibility “ADDs” to the Solution

Drought? Pandemic? Flooding? There is a lot to be said for a development model (i.e., solution to poverty) that can succeed under difficult, even disastrous, conditions. Given that disasters like this are even more destructive in less developed countries where infrastructure is lacking or primitive, it is essential that any effective development model be able to function even when disaster strikes.

The worst type of disaster is warfare. In the past two years, we have been testing our model amid a civil war, the one taking place in Myanmar. In particular, the Pauk region, where we have seven active village partnerships, is an active combat zone. At the insistence of our local staff, we remain there despite the danger because all other NGOs and charities have left. Without us, people will have no place else to turn. While we do have a safety plan in place, it is a fluid situation there but one that has given us real insights into how our model can succeed even in the midst of war.

I refer to our model as an example of Adaptive Development Design (ADD). In the very structure of our model, there are features that make it flexible and adaptive, i.e., able to succeed even under the worst circumstances. Whether it is holding Village Development Team (VDT) meetings with a speakerphone so our staff can participate or setting up barter systems among villages that can’t get their crops to market, our staff are experts at “flexing” the model to fit the rapidly changing reality on the ground.