Heather, DVM, Word University Service Canada, Malawi, Coalition for the empowerment of Women and Girls (CEWAG), Communications and Visitibility Office.
Working as a remote intern with WUSC in Ottawa, Canada to then be partnered with the NGO CEWAG in Lilongwe, Malawi demonstrates how various methods of globalization have affected the implementation of international development projects. According to Albrow and King (1990), the term ‘globalization’ refers to the “process of interaction and integration among people, companies, and governments worldwide. Globalization has accelerated since the 18th century due to advances in transportation and communication technology. This increase in global interactions has caused a growth in international trade and the exchange of ideas, beliefs, and culture” (p. 17). In my program of study (International Development and Globalization) at uOttawa, the concept and theories of globalization were primarily focused in the first and second year of the program. The concept and theories of international development were focused on in the third and fourth year of the program. The following blog post explores how I have experienced and recognized both concepts in the field through my placement, and how I have observed their interactions and influence over one-another.
Globalization has emerged as a means to ensure economic and cultural growth of individuals, and the rise in urbanization and the closer integration of the world economy has facilitated this through global interconnectedness. However, the increased number of people trading and traveling across the globe was also a significant contributor to the spread of Covid-19, resulting in a global pandemic that reduced individual’s physical interconnectedness (Shresth, 2020). This created a situation in which providing support for international development projects internationally by travelling to the country to provide physical support was no longer possible, so many international development organizations had to turn to different methods of globalization to deliver the same results. As mentioned previously, globalization has accelerated advances in both transportation and communications technology, so when transportation to developing countries was no longer possible due to social distancing and stay-at-home guidelines, the international development community and other international actors turned to reinforcing their efforts for improving communication technology between development actors. During the first months of the pandemic, digital media use tremendously increased as people spent more time at home due to the lockdowns. Such increases were especially prevalent for social media and messaging apps, but particularly remarkable was the unprecedented uptake in video conferencing apps and programs (Nguyen et al., 2020). I witnessed this process through my own experiences working with WUSC and CEWAG. Prior to the pandemic, I would have been sent to work in Lilongwe with CEWAG in-person, and would have likely been spending the majority of my time there working on projects and getting to know the staff and their various stakeholders. However, due to my inability to travel to Lilongwe, I spend 100% of my working hours completing tasks on my computer and discussing with the team through communications technologies like email and Whatsapp. I believe that if I had been there in person the quantity of my work hours spent on my computer and on communications technologies would have been significantly reduced, so it is evident that a lack of one method of globalization (ie. transportation to the developing country) had to be replaced by another tool in order to complete similar duties (ie. working remotely on my computer, utilizing communications technologies).
I believe that Covid-19 has sped up the process of globalization in terms of communication technologies and reduced the quantity of travel that will occur in the future for international development projects. Although it is likely that travel to developing countries to deliver international development projects will continue after government restrictions have been lifted, it is my opinion that international development organisations will utilize communications technologies more now that it has been proven to work well for those with the right technology.
Albrow, M. & King, E. (1990). Globalization, Knowledge and Society. SAGE Publications, p.17.
Nguyen M., Gruber, J., Fuchs, J., Marler, W., Hunsaker, A., & Hargittai, E. (September 9, 2020). Changes in Digital Communication During the COVID-19 Global Pandemic: Implications for Digital Inequality and Future Research. Social Media + Society. doi:10.1177/2056305120948255
Shrestha, N. (December 20, 2020). The impact of Covid-19 on globalization. Elsevier, p. 1.