A Case for a Relational Approach in Development Interventions: Measuring the Relationships of an NGO in South Africa
Keywords:development, relational approach/thinking, Relational Proximity Framework, Human Development Index, holistic care, South Africa
This article argues in favour of relationships as a measure of development. The study gathered primary data from the James 1:27 Trust, a non-governmental organisation providing socio-economic and psychological support to vulnerable households in Pretoria, South Africa. The data were gathered through a qualitative method by which three officials from the James 1:27 Trust and seven participants from three households targeted by the James 1:27 Trust were interviewed. The in-depth interviews were complemented by a focus group discussion, which combined the Trust officials and the households. A thematic content analysis was used to interpret and analyse the data. The study concluded that the nature and extent of relationships in the examined non-governmental organisation present an opportunity to understand and measure development differently from the way it is understood and measured in orthodox development. The participants used burdened words such as family, belonging, appreciation, value, bonding, paying attention, and honesty as proxies for measuring development. These findings provide insight into the meaning of relationships in development processes and outcomes. The article recommends that care relationships be moved from the shadows to the mainstream of development practice.
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