The first guest blogger that offered to share her best practices is Daniela Papi from PEPY Tours, I have a bunch of you lined up to contribute but anyone who hasn’t contacted me yet and would like to guest blog or contribute a best practice please feel free!
Before Giving “Things” – We need to ask!
At PEPY, we have learned from past failures, that giving things without having the community ask for them, or having community input and support can often equate to failed projects. When it comes to giving, here are some of the things we have learned to help guide us in making sustainable choices:
– By asking for a needs assessment from the communities we are working with and asking for their support for the project as well, we can better ensure that the items being “given” will be taken care of and used
– If the operator does not have a long-term presence in the area, working through a local organization or a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) partner to conduct the research and follow up that will produce better and more reliable research information
– If items (such as wells, electronics, etc) are being introduced which are new to the area, repair costs and logistics should be taken into account before any giving of these items is considered.
In Cambodia, we have seen many organizations, ourselves included, donate items which are not used as they are broken, stolen, or not needed in the first place. An example of a problem of unmatched needs is high-tech wells in rural Cambodia. Some of these wells have an internal ball bearing mechanism which breaks after 2-3 years on average. As the system is closed and the product is made from parts foreign to the rural areas, there is usually no one in the village who knows how to fix it. Further, it costs more to fix it than it does to dig a new shallow well. Therefore, the thousands invested in the deep well end up being wasted funds after a few short years.
Research, ask, get community buy in, and follow up. This is what we have learned from our mistakes.