ii. Being inclusive
For all that many individuals, organisations and agencies contribute to development, it remains the case that not everyone does. Some people are excluded, a function of their poverty, powerlessness, marginalisation. This exclusion has become a preoccupation of development policymakers and practitioners. Everybody, it seems, has been talking the language of inclusion, very often tied in with ideas of participation and empowerment. This may – and sometimes does – represent a significant shift in the nature of development, with an opportunity for ‘beneficiaries’ to determine their own development. But it may – and often does – constitute little more than rhetoric. It may even be a cynical means of legitimising particular interventions, placing them safely beyond criticism.
Even if inclusion is genuinely intended, significant questions of principle and practice remain. Who should be included? On what terms? And how? For it may be immensely difficult to seek out and engage some ‘harder to reach’ groups and to establish processes that make sense to them, processes that they can contribute to. And – perhaps the most difficult question of all to answer – for all that being inclusive is said to be a ‘good thing’, what difference does it really make?