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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Stan is "On the Ground" in Chiapas Mexico

Stan left on Sunday morning to launch our stove program in Chiapas Mexico.  Stan spend part of the day Monday in Mexico City (D.F.) meeting with the staff at the Hunger Project-Mexico (THP) offices then took a quick flight down to Chiapas (vs a 14 hour bus ride) on to San Christobal.  He was met at the airport by Wendy (THP staff) and rode the 1.5 hours to San Christobal together.  Roberto (THP staff for the Oaxaca region) will join Stan and Wendy on Wednesday along with the 4 stove "Promoters" (builders) from the Mazateca. This team will oversee the building of 2 demonstration stoves.

Late last month a group of representatives from Chiapas went to the Mazateca to see-use and meet both the stove users and builders.  This was culturally significant event as these two indigenous cultural groups had never met each other. In addition they don't peak the same language!  At one level this project is ground breaking as it is being lead by two indigenous cultural groups, that will work together to help expand our stove program in another region in Mexico.

In building the stoves for the families in Chiapas they wanted some modifications to the design.  First, the women make tortillas sitting down, vs standing up in the Mazateca. Thus the stove will be modified to meet the specific cultural needs of these women by lowering the Comal side of the stove.  Second, they wanted the other side of the cook top to be a little lower which we will accommodate. In addition they would like the next generation builds to be in a long line or "L" shape. All of which we can accommodate in the future.

The goal of this pilot build is to; first have the 'Promoters" in Chiapas learn how to build the Gen1 stove from the experienced Promoters from the Mazateca, test the modified design, and then let the families use the stoves for a few months to determine if the "like" then as much as they thing they will.  They already got to use them in there prior trip to the Mazateca, and to suggest modifications and improvements so the stoves will better meet their expectations.

Stay tuned as I hope to hear from Stan (I don't know if he will have internet access or not) over the next 10 days about the progress.

Rick McKenney
Executive Director
Water for Humans

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Mico-Projects in a Macro World: How to Ensure Non-profit International Development Projects Succeed Where Others Fail

Rick has his first paper published covering some of Water for Humans development work and how we make our programs successful.

Mico-Projects in a Macro World: How to Ensure Non-profit International Development Projects Succeed Where Others Fail

Spanda Journal


Small-scale non-profits engaged in international work often set out with lofty aims, only to discover their projects fail or are rejected by local communities.  Innovative approaches to successful development projects include partnering with local NGOs specializing in capacity building, while heeding a number of lessons learned from past development work to ensure that micro-level projects succeed.  First, efforts to implement appropriate technologies in indigenous communities often fail because project planners do not consider cultural, historical and material constraints.  These constraints include unequal power relations within communities that hinder resource access and distribution; prior community experience with colonial or development projects that had adverse impacts; and geographical isolation and environmental extremes that limit project success.  Second, economic leakages often result in the financial benefits from development projects leaving local communities.  Third, although micro-projects have the potential to be among the most beneficial to communities, strategic partnering with NGOs may provide key resources as well as social and political capital necessary for success.  In this paper, we discuss these and other innovations related to the success of rural development micro-projects.  We then consider how to strategically partner with NGOs, despite potential conflicts of interest that may arise.  In expanding on innovative NGO approaches to development, we address capacity trust-building techniques, innovative methodologies, and deployment styles and techniques.  We conclude that micro-projects which include strategic NGO partnerships; social-impact assessments; promote low-technology inputs; and provide local control of technology and profits have the best chance of local acceptance and long-term sustainability.

Key words: innovation, micro-projects, international development, NGOs, economic leakage, appropriate technology, rural development, sustainable development, social impact assessment, NGO partnerships.