Recently I have become more involved in creating change or infact maximising potential of small ventures and developments to allow people to develop things themselves with just a bit of direction from me. The things I have noticed is that as soon as they know a foreigner is involved shopping lists can appear. But then again NGO`s seem to work that way throw money at the problem rather than look at it properly and find out the real needs of people. Not saying all NGO`s are like that but then again why are we constantly asked for money in the West? In reality huge amounts of land are controlled by the wealthy I wont use the word “Elite” simply as this gives them status that they shouldnt have. This leaves a lot of the land unavailable for redevelopment or farming. So you need to look at what is the root cause of the problem where you are operating. Is it a landowner is controlling too much water further upstream starving the land of water or is it a lack of knowledge on rainwater harvesting to resolve the issue.
There is a lot of solutions to most of the worlds problems and its about time NGO`s stopped competing for cash and started forming up for joint ventures because a person like me no longer donates anything to an NGO organisation because of the issues with many of them involving high salaries and “administration” (Either way I call it corruption and the theft of peoples money"). If your a true NGO or someone wanting to make a change then its about time value was shown for what people do donate and about time results started to be shown to say “this is a project we done in X and now you can see the difference”.
Im getting off track here. But basically if your looking to develop a project there is a list of things I would advise considering and asking yourself before you start a project even :-
- Be part of the community living amongst the people.
- Learn from the people as they may already have ideas and solutions you hadnt even thought of.
- Plan any changes or ideas with everyones involvement or at least form a committee. Ideas need everyone onboard to succeed.
- Work alongside everyone on the projects this not only gains respect but also gives you a better understanding of what is going on.
- Start with what people have knowledge and experience of as these things are less likely to draw suspicion and already the skills will be readily available. Many ideas just lack funding.
- Is there an already functioning business or project that just needs extended? Why start from scratch if there is already a success story just needing a boost.
- Teach people by showing them plans and how to do it. I find a lot of people will say “Yes” when I ask if they understand to later find they didnt. So making it clear is very important.
- Teaching people how to do it by doing it yourself not only gains respect and encourages others it also shows people technique and if they have a better one will allow them to share it with you.
- This isnt a showcase venture for your ego. If your doing it for the wrong reasons then really you shouldnt be doing it. These projects are normally life long journeys that build friendship and trust.
- Build a system of how things will work and how you will develop things so that it can be replicated. It not only makes life easier to do everything but it also reduces resource costs and the chance of money and time loss.
- Continous improvement should be a goal that will empower the people involved and to encourage others. Your not only building sustainability but also offering a future.
- If you set short term goals you get short term results. Plan on how to make things better long-term no point a delivery of 20 bags of rice if people will go hungry next month. Is it better to find an alternative use for the funds into something that will develop over time Converting relief to release and sustainable.
- An important thing for me is that whatever you do its not led by either religion or political involvement as its important that its kept independent and transparent.