Self-sustaining social interventions are elusive but too many aid agencies remain sold on this idea
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Theories of change’ and ‘distanced vision’, afflictions of the social and development sector, which I wrote about in my last two columns, are not the only such maladies. Let me pick on a third one: Sustainability. Here, the term has a specific meaning; nothing to do with environmental sustainability. The notion is that development and improvement should be sustainable in the community or area where it happens, without the need of continuing intervention or support from any agency outside that community. Basically, changes should be permanent. To understand the problems with this notion, let’s consider two illustrations.