Places of Poverty and Powerlessness: INGOs Working ‘At Home’

  • Susannah Pickering-SaqqaEmail author
Original Article


The search for transformatory development practice, distanced from colonial binaries and representations, has been the focus of decades of scholarship. Recent research suggests that international development non-governmental organisations (INGOs) are central in this regard, whether in their governance, fundraising, advocacy, knowledge-management, engagement with others or approach to programme design. This paper progresses these debates by providing empirical evidence of the value of domestic programming in this ‘project’. Drawing on three case studies, the paper finds evidence of INGOs’ search for a programme strategy, which moves minimising the violence of ‘othering’ from theory to practice. Findings indicate that domestic programmes incorporate dimensions of a development practice, which make visible a theory of poverty as powerlessness, distance it from the violence of ‘othering’ and are grounded in an ethic of ‘everyone matters’. If development practice and intervention design can incorporate these elements, a transformatory, decolonised development practice may be possible.


INGOs Power Othering Ethics Transformation Decoloniality 


La recherche de pratiques de développement transformatrices, loin des représentations et des conceptions binaires coloniales, fait l’objet d’études depuis des décennies. Des recherches récentes suggèrent que les ONG internationales jouent un rôle central sur ce sujet-là, que ce soit dans leur gouvernance, leur collecte de fonds, leur plaidoyer, leur gestion des connaissances, leurs échanges avec les autres ou leur approche de la conception de programmes. Cet article fait progresser ces débats en fournissant des preuves empiriques de la valeur de la mise en oeuvre nationale de programmes dans ce "projet". En s'appuyant sur trois études de cas, cet article trouve des preuves sur le fait que les ONG internationales sont à la recherche d’une stratégie de programme, qui vise à passer de la théorie à la pratique le sujet de la réduction de la stigmatisation violente de «l’Autre». Les résultats indiquent que les programmes nationaux intègrent les dimensions d’une pratique de développement qui: rend visible une théorie de la pauvreté comme impuissance; l’éloigne de la violence de la stigmatisation de «l’Autre» et se fonde sur une éthique du «tout le monde compte». Si les pratiques de développement et la conception des interventions peuvent intégrer ces éléments, une pratique de développement transformatrice, loin de l’approche coloniale, peut devenir possible.


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The author confirms that there are no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social SciencesUniversity of East LondonLondonUK

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