The 2015 report of the UNDP affirms that around 1 billion people in the world live in extreme poverty. Most of these extremely poor people are found in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia. As the SDGs propose a framework to alleviate extreme poverty, it’s important to notice that a lot of researches are conducted to come out with innovative ways to apply the SDGs. But most of these studies are done on the occidental point of view, leaving aside the perception of what these extremely poor people think or say about their own development.

To illustrate the importance of taking into consideration a global approach of the application of the SDGs, I propose an analysis based on observation research.


If you ask a scientist what he sees on the above pictures, he will answer a rainbow. He will define it with the reflection of light on a water source. Well, the Christian also sees a rainbow and for him, it is a covenant that God made with man so as not to destroy the earth again through water/floods. If you wear these colors near a pro-gay, he will surely think you are identifying yourself to his cause. The Quran has no mention of the rainbow or any significance. The other difference here is the number of colors perceived in a rainbow.

I have called these differences in perceptions “the rainbow theory”. Why? Because many might see a rainbow at list once in their life but the meaning is so subjective and different from Africa to Europe, America and Asia. Even if we perceive things differently, it does not prevent them from existing.

The “rainbow theory” is a mental framework to always ask ourselves what other people think about issues. To develop the mindset of taking into consideration the perception that others around us have of a particular or general phenomena.

Applying this to development, I will simply say that it is better to ask people what development means for them. We will be amazed to discover the diversity and the riches of others people’s point of view and this can be very innovative. Therefore how many studies have been made to ask the needy what do they think about development? What are they doing to develop themselves and what is the impact of their investment? What strategies can we apply based on the new knowledge brought by the most vulnerable groups?

Please add a comment to share what development means to you. You can also share a situation where you faced different perception of the same object or situation with somebody. How did you react to the differences?

By Ngaté Hervé-Boris,Masters  Intercultural Studies.


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