Systemic change’s blindest blind spot

by | Jul 11, 2015 | Formation, Systemic change

systemic-change-wheel(The development professional were certain that indoor water faucets would aid development but )….had development professionals not instantly assumed that walking to a well was a burden, they might have realized that the water faucets installed inside houses in a remote African village were cutting into women’s sacred time. Women in that particular area considered their journeys to collect water as time out of their homes.

I am confident that in both cases, aid workers had the intention of addressing local needs with available technology. Just the same, something got in the way of a successful project and what actually transpired.

Over the course of many years in the field, I took on the task of trying to understand why there appeared to be a gap between the desire to help a community and actually addressing its needs. I was soon introduced to participatory or collaborative methods but was disappointed to find that this only did part of the job of filling the gap. In observing and trying to implement participatory projects, I realized that before we can ask for the community’s input, we need to learn an entirely new way of communicating. I started to explore how cultures in different parts of the world practice a wide range of techniques to ask questions and listen for answers. Once we learn how this is done locally, we can hear what a community really needs or desires. Only then can we start to do participatory development…

The above example was taken from