Development Issues

Critical Thinking about the World’s Development

Dependency Theory and International-Local Development

Dependency Theory and International-Local Development


The Hague, 19/Oct/2005 | By Rui Mesquita Cordeiro |



In a provocative interview for Mother Jones E-Journal, Jeffrey Sachs, an economist for the United Nations, comes up with some points defending more co-operation among rich and poor countries for developmental ends. United Nations has said that more development aid should be given on a local level, bypassing governments, for more immediate and effective outcomes, empowering local organisations. That is aligned with Sachs’ proposal “to help people help themselves”. He says that it can be done through international co-operation focusing practical investments on very basic things, all at once, such as immunizations against well known diseases, access to water or food production to fight hunger, using our current technology. For that, he believes in public “pressuring rich nations to set aside 0.7 percent of GNP for development aid”.


Sachs’ ideas can be related with the called dependency theory in many aspects. First of all in the sense that poor countries or communities need help from outside, either financial or technological. F. H. Cardoso (1970’s) writes about it and calls it dependent development. It is a way to think that development of peripherical countries or regions can be done without delinking from rich countries co-operation. In opposition to that idea, A. G. Frank (1950’s), one of the pioneers of the dependency theory, says that delinking “metropolis and satellites” relation is the way to avoid what he calls the development of underdevelopment, a historical and structural approach to explain the development of the current rich countries over the exploitation of the current underdeveloped countries. One’s can also reflect that development aid throughout the last decades is being based on poor countries contracting debt from international institutions based in the rich countries, generating a new kind of dependence relation, called by M. Castells and R. Laserna (1990’s) of new dependency, while Sachs seems to agree that bypassing governments and sending aid directly to the local level, through donations with no pay back agreement, can avoid this new kind of dependence relation.


I agree with Sachs’ arguments mainly because I believe that each day, more and more, alternative and effective solutions for our world society, in general, should be based and decided at local and international arenas, rather than at the national level. In one hand empowerment, governance, autonomy and participation of and in the local level and, in another hand, political willing, governance, cooperation, democracy and peace in and for the international level will be decisive for the political and economical choices we, as humanity, shall make to address our own global development all over the entire planet. I also believe that international-local and local-international co-operation is a way to alleviate the historical and international economical gap we face today basically everywhere, what makes that many simple problems are still going on, together with a growing inequality. But, at international level, who’s talking for us?





The End of Poverty: An Interview with Jeffrey Sachs – One of the world’s top economists offers a blueprint for transforming the developing world.

Interviewed by Onnesha Roychoudhuri on May 6, 2005

(Mother Jones E-Journal,


19 October, 2005 - Posted by | Development, Intl Cooperation

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