Tuesday, 25 October 2011

End: Key takeouts - Capacity building vs. Creating unnecessary desires

End : Key Takeouts, Charlotte:

When launching a service project, providers must strive to avoid adverse effects, we suggest they should pay attention to the 4 recommendations below:

(This's a summary of what we've discussed previously, look up here Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4)

1) Know What to help, Prioritize & Match your Skills  - Always do a thorough & truthful needs assessment on the population / community you're reaching out at.  For instance, your team have a good mix of engineering and humanities backgrounds while the community concerned is seriously plagued with bad water system.  Although your team is capable of teaching English and many other skills, it is clear that the needs urgently lie in improving water sanitation.  When the basics are fixed, your team may think of stretching to other aspects.  Just step in their shoes!

2) Establish Baseline, Set Goals & Measure Result - be specific about what your project strive to achieve, for instance, setting a goal to increase ease of access to clean water at an affordable cost, in a setting where currently the cost is an evident barrier and have resulted in lower-than-average productivity level and health issues as shown by various indicators: shortened life-expectency, infant mortality, school absenteeism, ...etc Then during different phases of your project you would need to measure the impacts of your project, by evaluation/satisfaction survey with recipients as well as correlation studies on relevant objective indicators.  Don't be afraid of making corrections to your project to bring it back in line with the goals

3) Stewardship - The ultimate aim is to increase the communities' capacity to grow on their own.  Therefore, your role is one of an enabler or a moderator to help them carefully identify the steps they can take to achieve the goals in their interest.  In the process, you assist them in a responsible manner, to develop the domestic resources, such as people talents, raw materials, information pools & channels.  By guiding them with best practices throughout the system, you look for long-term sustainable outcomes rather than one-off result

4) Build a sense of Engagement - Encourage two-way contributions by always attaching strings to services provided.  On the national level, humanitarian aids traditionally come in a package with a state's democratization progress.  Similarly, in micro-scale projects like ours, always attach "strings" - which can be either for a complimentary developmental goal, or simply a contribution back into the system to keep the project up and running sustainably.  For instance, you may ask water project participants to attend a complimentary class on basic health / women's health, or/and ask them to learn the skills of installing simple water sanitation device and let's say, set a target for them to help install the device in 10 other households.  This sense of engagement is key to reinforcing stewardship and hence, fostering long-term change in a community

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