Stefano Roveda

Paths of development 3

Blog Post created by Stefano Roveda Partner on 06-Mar-2018

This is the last episode of the series "Paths of development", where we talked about different type of influence on developing countries.

I want to talk about another form of influence by telling you two exemples, two cases that happened while I was in Guinea Bissau.

The first one involves a group of italian volunteers who pledged to install a fair number of "light points" in Prabis.

Prabis is a very small village not so far from Cumura, where I was settled in. Prabis doesn't have an hospital so everyone that wanted to get a disease treated by a doctor or just have medicines goes to Cumura.

A "light point" is a lighting pole with PV on top and a battery under the panel as showed in the picture.

With these light points people could stay out at night and see the streets in the forest. The purpose was noble, but brought am unexpected side effect: the tenfold increase of malaria cases on Prabis population, registered in Cumura hospital.

It turned out that people did "djumbai" (i.e. sitting together chatting) under the lights, that attract mosquitos.


The other story is about a garden grown to give an example of civilization, to show how to use tropical flowers to beautify the surroundings. No one of the local people had ever grew flowers, and the reason arrived a few weeks after the flowers started to bloom, in the form of snakes. Blossoms attract certain bugs, which in turn attract certain lizards, that snakes love. The garden project had to end.

This last story can seem almost silly, but I don't see much difference between growing a flower garden and watch Game Of Thrones all together.


In these examples the cause of harm was the belief that only one way of development exists (and it is the one taken by Europe). The key point could be just embrace the idea that people in developing countries can teach us (europeans)  as many things as we can teach them.

This is a very important point and I would really like to know your opinions on this. I am thinking about a project inside IE based on this concept of mutual learning and I wanted to build a bit of a frame with this posts.

I am happy the Developing countries inclusion group now counts 36 people, with highly engaged new entries like Federica Tomasini and Krystel Araneda. I am looking for your thoughts and present the idea as soon as possible!