Sometimes development gets it wrong. Well… in all honesty, a lot of time development gets it wrong. And I say that as someone working for a development agency. Agencies and donors are very focused on creating results, creating data, tangible things with personal stories of triumph. Which is great, and understandable. But development doesn’t occur in a bubble. Agencies often neglect to see or address the situation in a more holistic manner. It’s easy to build a school (well, sort of), but getting kids to attend? Paying for teachers? Making the school accessible? Do people have a place to live? Is there enough food to eat in the area?
And there are a lot of very smart agencies and people who work every day at identifying these barriers and overcoming them. I honestly believe we’re getting better at it. We’re realizing that sustainability is a big deal, that developing ISN’T just one project, one effort, one indicator improved, but the whole jigsaw puzzle working together.
But while we were in Terekeka there was a moment that was just so palm-to-face and groan-worthy, that I wanted to write Greg Mortenson and have him come yell at someone. As we traveled out to Langi, we passed a beautiful concrete building. I asked our SCP what the building was, and she mentioned that it was a school that was built by an NGO a few years back.Sounds pretty neat, right? A school way out in the bush? Up a dusty dirt road in an area most people would write off as inaccessible and forgotten?
Unfortunately… no children attend it. The school was built without actually checking to see if there was anyone who lived in the area. It’s smack dab in the middle of nothing. On top of that, there’s no water. Three different times, engineering groups came out trying to dig down and find water, but there’s nothing there. So this beautiful school sits empty and wasted.
Just another example of good intentions gone wrong.