Action. Based on Evidence.
It’s a wonderful feeling knowing that your actions are potentially helping someone improve their livelihood in a different part of the world, but how do you know what you’re doing is helping? While almost always wrapped in the best of intentions, it’s possible (and proven) that some interventions do more harm than good..
Consider, for example, the impact of donated goods (like clothing or shoes) in a developing world country. It feels great to clean out your closet, knowing that your hand-me-downs can keep someone else clothed or warm; but have you ever seen the myriad array of goods for sale on market day in Uganda? When goods arrive, free for distribution, who would buy them from a merchant? In addition to perpetuating a harmful level of dependency, its also harmed the local markets, taking money out of the pockets of the neighbor of the very individual you sought to help!
The economy in developing countries ends up being set back billions of dollars when the massive scale of “social” companies is taken into account. They simply don’t pay attention to the entire supply chain and how they are affecting this complex system.
In a modern world, the problem is seldom a lack of supply, and almost always a lack of purchasing power.
To be clear:
Nobody goes into development trying to destabilize a people’s way of life or to compromise their independence, but it can (and unfortunately, does) happen. Behind the scenes, there exists an army of researchers who have made it their life’s work to study the effects of different interventions, so that churches, charities, and NGOs alike can do more effective work.
At It Takes A Village, we take our mission incredibly seriously. We are absolutely against any intervention that simply props up a community and creates a dependence on us, or any actor, other than the tenacity and ability of the community itself.
Below you’ll find a summary of many tested interventions that we consider possible in the communities we work with. When we agree to start a project, we work together with the community to decide which interventions exhibit the best chances of success. Once agreed upon, we stay flexible. You never know what kinds of challenges may arise, or what role other local factors may play at the outset, indeed it is impossible to know.
It is imperative to remember that poverty is never the result of one single issue, or the result of a resource problem such as having unclean water, lack of shoes, or lack of food. As such, development interventions must not only focus on a single ticket item like Microfinance, Education, or simply providing resources alone. Interventions must be needs-based, individualized, and of value to the communities involved.
Microfinance is one of the most heavily studied interventions in the developing world. Microfinance (or microcredit) is the term for the financial services provided to those entrepreneurs who are typically excluded from traditional banking.
One of the most under-utilized specific tools in development is microsavings. Setting aside a portion of today’s income for later use can lead to a better future for all, no matter how small. With various tools like community-savings groups and the proliferation of mobile banking, savings is becoming accessible for all.
Primary & Secondary Education
Securing the success of the future generation starts in the early classrooms. While the majority of countries across the world have policies for Universal Primary Education, in many instances fees for uniforms or basic supplies prevent students from being able to attend.
Continuing Adult Education
One of the main challenges working-age teens and adults face as they enter the workforce in the Developing World are the lack of specific job skills; mostly due to the fact that they are the segment of the world population who is most likely to have dropped out or experienced significant gaps in their education.
Access to Healthcare
Receiving timely and accurate medical advice is one of the most important services thats curbed high death rates and low life expectancy all over the world in the latter half of the 20th Century.
Being protected by a safety net when things go wrong is not a luxury just for the wealthy. Small insurance platforms all over the world are helping entrepreneurs mitigate risk by providing relevant insurance products for things like health, crops, disability, and natural disasters.