Development: Expectations vs Reality

July 25, 2019 | Snit, International Development and Globalization(Co-op)(French Immersion), Forumd of Federations, Ethiopia, Intern

In my final week in Addis, I have been left with a lot to reflect on. Last Friday, we had a little escape from the busy city life and headed to the lovely Debre Zeyt for my final work conference with the Forum. We discussed upcoming goals for the next fiscal year with key partners of the organization and talked about some of the areas of improvement for the next year as well.

It has been incredibly inspiring to meet so many brilliant people so passionate about democracy and governmental reform in the country. Having grown up in Canada, there were many privileges that I took for granted and never really even noticed I had until I saw other people without the same freedoms. There are also so many other barriers that do not exist in the same way in Canada due to historical reasons that do exist in many other countries globally. Not to say that there are not systemic issues in Canada or the West as a result of colonialization and imperialism, but it exists in a different capacity in my comparative understanding.

I have really learned a lot about the intricacies of federalism and what that looks like in an Ethiopian system, as it is often referred to as an ‘ethnic federalist’ system. This has opened my eyes to the realities of ethnic relations in the country and how it is a major consideration in many political decisions. Politics and governance are a lot more complicated than I had originally (ignorantly) anticipated. This experience has also shaped the way that I view development as a whole and have truly begun to understand the interdependency of all development projects. For example, one cannot talk about gender equality or environmental issues without considering governance and ethnic issues.

Development is such a complicated field, and an even more complicated concept. What does it mean to be developed? Who is the country developed/developing for? These are questions we don’t always have simple answers to, and that is kind of both the hardest thing but most inspiring and freeing component of development. Most notably, we have our sustainable development goals, but beyond the basic freedoms, what constitutes as sustainable? I have really been left with a lot to reflect on.

Being in Addis for the last three months have allowed me to understand myself and my parents’ homeland more than I ever would have dreamed. It truly has been the best of both worlds (both an academic experience and a personal learning experience) and I am truly very hopeful for the further development of the country. As one of my really good friends on campus said, “hope is all we can have”. Personally, I know this won’t be my last time in Ethiopia, so I’m very thankful for this opportunity and I am excited what my next experience in the country will be like.

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