17 June, 2019

Most Australians are familiar with the fish analogy: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

This simple concept is the basis of development work around the world. While it is human nature to want to help others who are in need, aid agencies like ADRA are learning that it is not enough to merely address the symptoms of poverty. Rather, for real and effective change to be made, ADRA works to address the root cause of that poverty.

So, what does this look like? If we go back to the fish analogy, the symptom of poverty is hunger. But the reason the man is experiencing poverty is that he doesn’t have the skills or know-how to feed himself. In this instance, ADRA would work with the man to teach him to fish, so that he can feed himself for the rest of his life.

ADRA’s projects are geared towards this kind of development. In Timor Leste alone, ADRA is teaching families gardening techniques, with an incredible flow on effect. Not only are families producing yields that are enough to feed the family, the family is also earning income from selling excess crops and their overall health is improved by adding nutritious vegetables to their diet.

While it may be more time consuming to invest in teaching someone to fish, or farm effectively, rather than to give them a meal, the long-term benefits of development projects far outweigh a hand-out.