The Most Confusing Terms in International Development Explained

Do you ever find yourself having to whip out Wikipedia while reading an article about global development? Google every acronym you come across? Every discipline, whether it’s medicine, law or economics, has its own specific lexicon: a secret language that can sometimes be hard to decipher. And the field of international development is no exception, with experts throwing around mysterious abbreviations like CCB and MDG. To help shed light on these terms, we’ve compiled a list of some of the more confusing ones for the first post of a series we’re calling #GlobalDev101.

Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD): a strategy used for sustainable development, the ABCD methodology assesses a community’s resources and builds on those existing assets. This school of thought is often characterized as the “glass half full approach,” as it shifts the attention away from a community’s deficiencies and focuses instead on its strengths.

Community Capacity Building (CCB): a methodology that instills an individual or community with practical and conceptual skills that are meant to empower them. Capacity building (also referred to as capacity development) often takes the form of vocational training and education.

The FXBVillage model aligns both financial capacity with social capacity. Financial capacity helps families create Income Generating Activities and teaches them how to become economically self-sufficient. Social capacity is a mix of counseling, education and community support. We recognize that those who are poorer have less of both types of capital and simply providing them with financial capital is not useful. By combining both types of capital, our FXBVillage model provides results that last longer than a charitable handout.


Microfinance: financial services given to low-income individuals or those who do not have access to traditional financial institutions, like banks. Often, microfinance is used as a tool to help promote economic development and small business ventures. Services include small loans (micro-credit) and insurance options.

Microfinance has become increasingly popular in the past decade. However, microfinance solutions are less effective with people living in extreme poverty who struggle with the basic necessities. Our FXBVillage model includes a carefully calibrated investment strategy to help our families gain financial stability and education they need. It’s a necessary step before micro-credit is considered.

Millennium Development Goals (MDGs): commonly abbreviated to MDGs, Millennium Development Goals are a set of eight global goals that were established at the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in 2000. These eight goals address the issues of hunger, universal education, gender equality, child mortality, maternal health, HIV/AIDS, environmental sustainability and global partnership. All of the United Nations member states committed to achieving these goals by the end 2015. Looking at the data today, it seems unlikely that all the MDGs will be met by the end of this year. Curbing infant mortality and improving sanitation are two goals that are likely to be seriously off target by the end of 2015. In addition to goals being off target, MDGs have been criticized for overlooking crucial issues such as peace, security and sustainable development. Learn more about MDGs here.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): a term used to describe a proposed set of targets relating to global development. SDGs are meant to replace and improve upon the MDGs, which expire at the end of 2015. These new targets are set up to help UN member states craft policies and ultimately transform the global landscape by 2030. The proposal contains 17 goals with 169 targets, covering issues such as poverty, climate change and gender equality. The specific details of the proposal will be finalized at the United Nations Summit in September 2015.

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