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How self-reliance is understood: viewpoints from one local community in Malawi

Martin Jamieson
Dudly Chisakala


This paper examined principles of self-reliance within the context of development taking place in rural Malawi. Rather than participating in a macro-level national development programme, the paper argues that local-level development that is dependent upon the participation and motivation of key players is more likely to precede community changes which could then be described as sustainable. It proposes that the factors building an alternative paradigm for development are the pragmatic utilisation of local resources, a holistic approach to needs, and an active participation by community leaders from all areas of society. Using semi-structured interviews and content analysis methodology this paper argues that by validating indigenous knowledge an alternative model that resists dependence on external aid, empowers community development, and provides opportunities to sustain development activity through local initiative, can be employed to increase social capital leading to sustainable growth.

Keywords: empowerment, development, participation, self-reliance, social capital

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2070-0083
print ISSN: 1994-9057