The World Bank and the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) funded the initiative of Imam Sadr Foundation to produce and publish an Arabic Glossary of Development Terms. The project addresses a major deficiency in the Arabic language, and intends to contribute to better understanding and accessing of local and regional NGOs as well as other stakeholders to the terminology used by most development organizations and international donors. It contains nearly 1.200 terms and concepts related to development, with their synonyms in English and French.
The shift from information to participation through communication needs the leverage of common terms and of real understanding, as the essential adjunct to the generation of new knowledge relevant to development is its communication in relevant and accessible form.
Despite the multiplicity of the channels to exchange information and to engage in relationships namely with the international corps, only little percentage of the literate Arabs is able to read and share the knowledge as disseminated in foreign languages. The issue addressed by the project is this major inequity in the access of the Arabs to the basic information related to development.
The ultimate goal of the project is to incite and facilitate the involvement of the marginalized citizens including illiterate women and men in the development process. This aim requires that the intermediary agents are capable to transmit the same information and messages to two directions, the targeted poor and their supporter. This flow of information, with a minimum of “noise”, can express the needs of the poor as felt and lived by these needy, and would enable them later on to take part in implementing and evaluating the development projects.
The specific objectives attributed to the project are:
• To facilitate the participation of the poor through understanding and conceiving the procedures of the development projects and their role as beneficiaries;
• To improve the capacity of NGOs staff and similar to scrutinize the international literature on development, and to design and sell their relevant projects;
• To enhance the students’ capacity to carry out social development research and to improve communication between researchers and poor;
• To promote the public debate on poverty through the Project’s window on the web;
• To address gender consideration by giving particular attention to the relevant terms, concepts and tools.
The terms are categorized into twelve themes: Environment, Human Development and Empowerment, Human rights, International relations, Communication and technology, Gender, Community development, Health, Education and culture, Public finance and economy, Microfinance, Management of development project. And two auxiliary chapters: International Conventions, and Development Organizations.
The identification of the selected terms responded to one or more of the following criteria:
• Frequently used in the United Nations literature;
• Newly introduced in the Arab media and social studies;
• Closely linked to the regional context and environment.
Accordingly, the content varies to include generic terms such as Capacity-building,
Sustainable Development, Basic Needs, Ownership, Transparency, Accountability, etc. and to define some approaches like Strategic Gender Needs or Sector Investment Program. More attention is paid to initiate readers to specific tools and methods. Few examples are: Stakeholder Analysis, Sustainability Indicators, Cost-Benefit Analysis, Cost-Efficiency, Sensitivity Analysis, Critical-Path Analysis, and Output to Purpose Review, Build-Operate-Transfer, SWOT Analysis, and Donor Appraisal Procedures, and so on.
The provided explanation did not saturate all dimensions or the contexts of each of evoked terms. Rather, it intends to launch the debate and initiate the interest.
Information resources and references are mentioned as well to enable interested readers to widen their acquisition through deeper research.
Following organization was adopted:
• Steering Committee: to manage the activities, mobilize other partners, select and browse existing literature, identify terms and contribute in editing;
• Administrative Assistant: to gather selected materials and resources, circulate data, arrange meetings, supervise secretarial works and keep records;
• Supportive Authors, basically volunteers: to compose and/or draft the definitions and explanations;
• Advisory Committee: to comment on the draft and agree on the texts.
Advisors were academics and experts in the local and regional developmental context;
• Web- Interacts: concerned institutes and references in the Arab Countries were contacted and invited to e-mail their comments/contributions;
Important to note that those members represent various circles, e.g. academic, scientific, social, linguistic, civic organizations and NGOs, intergovernmental organizations, etc.
With regard to the process, following activity steps were undertaken:
1. Collection of existing literature (wider glossaries, English and French counterparts, dictionaries, and browsing the relevant web-sites
2. Identification of the relevant terms according to the above mentioned criteria;
3. Harmonizing the various pieces of explanation and editing for each term one or more statements in Arabic;
4. Circulating the draft to the advisory committee, and soliciting their individual comments and contributions;
5. Inviting the committee to meet as much as needed to brainstorming sessions aiming at agreeing on conspiracies and/or any controversial views;
6. Putting the concluded content on line and soliciting the contribution of the concerned institutes and references;
7. Publication of the manual and distribution namely to NGOs, municipalities, universities and governmental departments in Lebanon.
8. Abroad dispatch is taking place by mail and upon request.
Being new, this activity is kept constantly under review. Its receptivity to further amendments is not limited to the period of the project. The website will be periodically updated. According to the demand, the Manual can be republished including the emerged amendments.
The on-line contribution is expected to include any concerned party, namely centers for research, universities, development experts and publishers. consult our glossary
The book (326 pages) is sold for US$ 10, and can be ordered via the following address: Mohamad Bassam, Project Coordinator
Tel.: +961 7 741 610 - Fax: +961 7 343 312
P.O.Box: 9923-6502, Tyr, Lebanon