Amid a series of setbacks to global development in 2021—pandemics and lockdowns, hunger and conflict, debt crises and inflation—there were also some positive development victories, which offer some reason to be more optimistic in 2022 and beyond.
Digital technology was a reoccurring theme last week at the Biden administration’s Summit for Democracy on “defending against authoritarianism, addressing and fighting corruption, promoting respect for human rights.” COVID-19 has highlighted how central digital capabilities are for all aspects of life—work, health, education, commerce, and government. Digital infrastructure and government services are no longer just nice to have, but essential elements of a 21st century nation. Digital capabilities are ideologically neutral and can serve authoritarian as well as democratic tendencies, so development donors must be wary of whom they partner with and how they deliver assistance for digital government.
A woman food vendor participates in a food systems workshop in Al Alto, Bolivia (Photo: copyright Fundación Alternativas)
To work with effective and progressive civil society movements in low-income countries, do international NGOs need to do less capacity strengthening, and work as allies of these movements instead? Drawing on lessons from a new report, Natalie Lartey discusses how advocates can advance this agenda.