Calling time on top-down approach

Eva Rehse

Sir Ian Wood

Sir Ian Wood.

Browsing through the June 2018 issue, I was struck by the interview with Scottish philanthropist, Sir Ian Wood. Notwithstanding that his philanthropy undoubtedly has had some positive impact, I was surprised by Wood’s somewhat anachronistic approach compared to much of the progressive thinking in philanthropy today. Momentum is moving away from top-down solutions towards more participatory decision-making which values the knowledge and experience of those our funding seeks to benefit. Communities in Africa have for centuries known how to work their land and feed their families.

Listening to local people and supporting their own solutions, including those that address the inequality in our prevailing economic system, would surely be a more effective investment than teaching local farmers how to use polluting fertilizers to try to compete in an unfair global trading system, with the odds of climate change stacked against them. This is all very far away from my own experiences with communities across Africa and our work at Global Greengrants Fund, which values and supports the solutions developed by local people. That is the kind of philanthropy and those are the kind of voices which deserve greater prominence on the pages of Alliance magazine.

Eva Rehse
Executive director
Global Greengrants Fund UK

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