Emergencies Get Spotlight at Expense of Development

Volunteer Leader Tells of Common Pitfall in Third World

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ROME, MAR. 14, 2001 (Zenit.org).- International Volunteers for Development, an organization inspired in Salesian spirituality, held a symposium here last weekend to discuss the identity, role and objectives of cooperation for development and international solidarity.

Speakers addressed the new challenges facing aid to developing countries in the new context of globalization.

The congress´ participants reflected on the “Manual of Cooperation for Development.” ZENIT interviewed Antonio Raimondi, president of International Volunteers for Development and co-author of the book with Gianluca Antonelli.

–Q: What are you hoping for, from this initiative?

–Raimondi: We want the cultural relaunching of cooperation for development as a topic of great political importance. In Italy, for example, a manual of this type, which is systematic and gives the history of cooperation, was lacking.

I think it is a book that is able to address the problematic areas of cooperation, which move between altruistic and egotistic motives, and which have been an important instrument of foreign policy. Moreover, it is necessary to design guidelines for cooperation in development in the third millennium.

–Q: What are the greatest challenges that volunteer organizations must face, especially in the international scene?

–Raimondi: I think the main challenge is of a political nature, rather than projects. NGOs are wonderful as regards interventions of an immediate nature, both in the humanitarian field as well as in development projects.

I think the real question today is political, namely, how to influence political strategies, to make it understood that cooperation, and consequently peace and development, is something played out between civil societies of the world´s North and South. It is no longer a problem of laws. This model of foreign policy has been surpassed by the reality of globalization and the interdependence of today´s world.

–Q: With the emergency phase over, the development phase begins. What are the greatest difficulties that must be addressed in this phase to reconstruct the future of countries where there is intervention?

–Raimondi: Minds and eyes must always be open to development. Those dedicated to emergencies have all my appreciation. There are times when one must intervene from a strictly humanitarian point of view, but the great risk is that we continue to be tied to the emergency.

We are often gripped by the fact that more money is allocated to emergencies. Because of this, NGOs and international agencies do not plan adequately for development.

Therefore, the real challenge is to find the right way to unite the active forces of the society being helped, in order to address development, which must always be endogenous and can never be extraneous.

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