Keren Winterford, Deborah Rhodes, and Christopher DureauAug 10, 2023
A Strengths-Based Approach for International Development
Practical Action Publishing 2023
The practice of international development continues to change as more is understood about what works. A shift from a deficit or problem-solving approach to a strengths-based approach is a significant reframing for international development. A strengths-based approach aims to reveal assets, strengths or what is working within an individual, group, community or organization, then uses these strengths as a way to achieve change and preferred futures. Reframing Aid: A Strengths-Based Approach for International Development (Practical Action, 2023) by Dr. Keren Winterford, Deborah Rhodes, and Christopher Dureau sets out the thinking, practical action and evidence-base to inform a sector-wide transformation. For many, this is a radical or even revolutionary shift, but for others, the writing is already on the wall.
The authors set out the strong theoretical and practical basis of a strengths-based approach; explore insight through the lens on power, culture and psychology; and provide examples of how the approach is already applied in practice within the project cycle, monitoring and evaluation, dominant current approaches and sectors of international development.
The theory and rich descriptions of how a strengths-based approach works, will give development workers, governments, researchers, policy makers and donors in the global north and south the confidence to continue or try new this approach to creating change. These fresh perspectives offer a much-needed alternative to the deficit-based/problem solving paradigm that dominates, but is no longer relevant to shared global efforts for social justice and environmental sustainability.
This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose doctoral work focused on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars.