Grass Roots Development May Hold Promise in the Muslim World

I would actually hope that it holds promise for everyone:

There is, Khan averred, a “dominant player fallacy” or the tendency to place “too much reliance in national governments and other institutions which may have relatively superficial connections to life at the grass-roots level.”

Thus, “urban-based outsiders often look at these situations from the perspective of the city center looking out to a distant countryside, searching for quick and convenient levers of influence.” The secret, then, is to work “from the bottom up” and not from the top down, as is so often the case.

As he told the dinner here of the Global Philanthropy Forum, which includes development groups from the Ford Foundation to USAID and many others, this means working on everything at once. In the “Multi-Input Area Development” program of his Aga Khan Development Network, which works on a budget of about $300 million a year, his people work with enormous patience trying to unite all the factors: from preschool education, to public health, to putting people to work reconstructing ancient cultural treasures like the ruins of old Islamic Cairo, built 1,000 years ago by his own ancestors, the Fatimid Caliphs.