This morning (27/10/09) a group of around 25 participants debated the question of welfare and development. Using tools borrowered from Participatory Appraisal methodologies, we quickly agreed that welfare can be development, and that we need not apologise for providing short term relief, or for lobbying for welfare interventions such as grants. Short term relief is vital for alleviating the ill effects of poverty and distress, while social security is a right of citizenship as well as a investment in the future. Welfare is development, and development involves the provision of welfare. In this regard, NGOs, social movements and researchers concerned with development are powerful stakeholders who are able to influence policy and how it is implemented.
Nonetheless a number of new issues need our attention if we are to move forward on reducing poverty though the provision of welfare. Firstly we need to recognise the value of adopting long term goals, the strategies to acheive these and what we do once these goals have been acheived. These need to be supported by research and a well developed information base. We also need to be strategic in terms of who we engage with: the policy makers, the funders, spheres of government and the communities. Finally, in linking welfare and development, we need NGOs that think big, while remaining focused on their specific mandates and constituencies. For some organisations, this might mean thinking BIG (Basic Income Grants), for some, thinking BAG (Basic Asset Grants), and for others, RISC (Rapid Income, Support and Counselling).