Changing the way we change the world

What is a dead end in your field?

By Susan Davis, Executive Director

I’ve really been enjoying reading “Demand” a journal published by ASME / Engineering for Change (E4C).  The Spring 2016 issue (available on the app) has well written and well illustrated articles on sanitation and water innovations, including their challenges and adaptations.  I’d like to see follow up articles on them in five years.  But what really jumped out at me was one of the answers to “Five Questions with Karl Linden,” (quoted below):

E4C: What is a dead end in your field that people just won’t let die? 

Karl Linden: Personally, I am over the idea that NGOs can come in and make a difference in a one-off type application. It doesn’t matter what the technology is – if you don’t take the time to know a community, understand their unique needs, help develop local capacity, provide follow-up support and create a [sustainable] maintenance plan, that money is going to be wasted.  It’s donor-driven, and it does not work.

Fore example, I’ve seen communities that do not like the taste of [chlorine-treated] water decide they will leave that out when the implementer is [gone].  This is an instance of not understanding and working within the bounds of cultural and societal preferences, or not implementing robust behavior change programs.

What do you think are “dead ends” in your field? Let us know in the comments section below.

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