Leuven University Press

Patrick Develtere, Huib Huyse, and Jan Van Ongevalle on Developmental Aid

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We asked authors Patrick Develtere, Huib Huyse, and Jan Van Ongevalle three questions about their new book, International Development Cooperation Today, and their research on the challenges and opportunities of international developmental aid. Here’s the outcome:

1. What’s your favorite anecdote from your research for this book?

In September 2019 nobody expected European Commission President J.C. Juncker to say something about international cooperation during his State of the European Union. But he launched a new Africa—EU Alliance. He said: “To speak of the future, one must speak of Africa—Europe’s twin continent. Africa is the future: By 2050, Africa’s population will number 2.5 billion. One in four people on earth will be African. We need to invest more in our relationship with the nations of this great and noble continent. And we have to stop seeing this relationship through the sole prism of development aid. Such an approach is beyond inadequate, humiliatingly so. Africa does not need charity, it needs true and fair partnerships. And Europe needs this partnership just as much.”

2. What do you wish you had known when you started writing your book, that you know now?

In 2019 nobody could know that a minuscule virus would ravage the entire world. But we should have known for a long time that if there is not sufficient social protection everywhere there will not be sufficient protection anywhere. We should have known that we did not want to know it and that we needed a pandemic to recognize it.

3. How do you wish you could change your field of study?

What we need is principled international development cooperation, not charity, not just development aid or development cooperation. Principled international development cooperation is not simply a question of filling gaps or restoring deficiencies in the Global South. It is a journey of seeking opportunities, of looking for mutual interests and genuine win-win operations that in the end benefit to all but especially to those who are more resource poor and more vulnerable.

Featured Photo: Petitionville, Haiti. Credit: Reynaldo Mirault

Read more about this book.


Patrick Develtere has been involved in development cooperation for over 35 years. He teaches international development cooperation at the KU Leuven.

Huib Huyse is the head of the research group “Sustainable Development” of HIVA–Research Institute for Work and Society of the KU Leuven.

Jan Van Ongevalle heads the research unit “Global Development” of HIVA–Research Institute for Work and Society of the KU Leuven.

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