This is my appeal to Christian development workers.
Over the past decade or so there has been a renewed emphasis in Christian circles on poverty relief and development work. I think this is a good thing, but it concerns me that development work be done correctly.
You say, "Duh," but it has been done so badly so many times that I think the point needs to be made again.
Once upon a time I believe God would have looked with patience upon a good-hearted Christian doctor who prescribed bloodletting for his patient. After all, the established medical belief was that removing some blood was a good thing and so the doctor would have been acting according to the best current knowledge and in the best interest of his patient.
But, as we now know - or think we know - bloodletting is almost always bad and potentially life-threatening.
So today, if a doctor prescribed a bloodletting to tone up the body, I believe God would condemn that.
Why? In both cases the doctor prescribed bloodletting. Why tolerate it in once case and condemn it in another? Because in the first case the doctor acted according the best knowledge he had available and with the best interest of his patient at heart. In the second case the doctor was either lazy and did not inform himself about his profession, or he had malicious intent toward the patient.
I think the same analogy applies to development work. If you don't know what you are doing, you can - despite the best of intentions - make things a lot worse. So first study and really understand what works! Don't rely on what common sense tells you ought to work, or what you think is "fair," or what your professor in college thinks should work, or what your political party says should work, but start by learning and relying upon what has actually worked in the real world! Then go from there.