Connecting local responses around the world
I was once asked to undertake field visits for the assessment of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). This was needed in order to make decision for funding them. I visited a number of NGOs, tried to know about their work and interacted with their staff. I was shown a number of documents, progress reports and photographs of the work done by them. I wondered if it is was necessary to have so many photographs which captured mainly the ‘important people’ at the events organized by organizations.
One NGO mentioned that they had installed water hand pumps in a number of villages with funding from the state government. They were a bit surprised when I requested them to take me to one of the hand pumps installed by them. Reluctantly, they took me to one. The pump was dry and did not give out water. Local people said it stopped working after a few weeks. As per the scheme the NGO was supposed to set up a local committee to oversee the functioning of the pump and do the needful for its maintenance. The committee existed but only on paper. The purpose of the scheme to engage a local NGO was thoroughly defeated.
I am a believer in the potential of NGOs. There are several of them engaged in significant developmental efforts but this incident was disappointing. If the NGO was really committed to solving the water problem in the area, it would use the available funding for the installation of hand pump and then work with the community to ensure that it remains functional and the community takes ownership. The job does not end with mere installation of the pump and submission of the report to the donor. It is important to see that the services set up under a proejct sustain beyond the ‘project’ for which the organization receives funding. This would lead to sustainability.
I wrote the above experience in my blog and thought of sharing it with community members. We can continue our discussions and I would welcome sharing of similar experiences on the issue of sustainability. Those interested in seeing other posts on the blog can visit: www.openingdoors.wordpress.com