A former colleague of mine keeps a blog.
Actually, several former colleagues of mine from more than one organization keep blogs. But that's beside the point of today's broadcast.
The point of today's broadcast is that this particular colleague (let's call him Owen) is doing a multi-part series on playpumps from his perspective while working in Malawi. (The playpumps link is to a video from playpumps.org that explains a bit about what a playpump is. Basically, lots of people in different parts of Africa draw water from hand-pumped wells. The playpump idea is that kids can play and do the pumping at the same time, cutting down the pumping that people - aka mostly women and girls - have to do to draw water).
You can find parts 1 and 2 of Owen's series here and here.
Here are a list of reasons why you should check out Owen's posts:
- Owen provides an interesting, full-sentence perspective that you won't get from following Playpumps International on twitter.
- The playpump is billed as something somehow related to the most challenging problems sometimes having the simplest solutions. I think more people need to think a bit more carefully about what 'simple solutions' actually are.
- The playpump is like a lot of other simple revolutions in development. It sounds good and makes contributors feel good... but is it actually good? Does saying that something is sustainable actually cover off all the bases? (NO!) Does looking good on paper automatically mean it will work out in practice? (NO!) Who is making sure that this idea is being translated into good practice? What kinds of problems are being encountered on the ground? Does the playpump make any faulty assumptions about the 'field realities?' Who is paying attention to these lessons? Are they being incorporated into the next phases of implementation?
Yes, you need to ask all those questions and more. Owen's blogposts is all about grappling with questions like this - for him, the answers he's finding aren't really painting a pretty picture for the case of the playpump.
- If you donate to playpumps or to anyone else who promises a 'simple' solution to these sorts of problems, you owe it to the people you think you're saving to understand more about the world that your money is being injected into.
4 days ago