Reviewed by Mary Ann Clements, Healing Solidarity
Terry Gibson’s book outlines the major challenges that prevent INGOs from responding effectively to the experience and knowledge of people they claim to help. It’s an accessible read drawing on many stories from the author’s experience of working in this sector.
Gibson does a good job of challenging the dichotomy between so-called development and humanitarian interventions and highlighting the disconnection between INGOs and the people and communities whom they serve. He rightly questions our preference for political and scientific knowledge above actual experience and highlights the extent to which participatory tools, meant to more effectively involve communities, have come to be used in the sector as something of a performance.
At the end of the book he proposes that INGOs should find ways to truly evolve towards what he calls the ‘Change Agent INGO’, by using ‘situated learning as a starting point for action’.