A recent article in the New Republic struck my fancy. The author expounded on the idea that the “one size fits all” approach to development is not working. Often, the large well-funded organizations working in development find an idea that works seemingly well in one country/district/village and then apply that approach across their global programming with the intended effect of reducing poverty globally. A great example of this fad was the PlayPump, a merry-go-round that was used to pump water while children played in the school yard. Millions of dollars were donated to the PlayPump and thousands were installed. A year later? The pumps were in various states of disrepair and women were forced to turn a giant wheel to get water rather than easier approaches for them such as a treadle pump.
The big problem here is that we are a world of inconsistencies. We have a global delight in non-conformity to a set standard. People make choices based on their culture, their community, and their own free will that will cause ripples of deviation from the norm. The PlayPump might have worked well in a community where repair parts were available and the school yard was constantly full, but in other areas this was not going to be the case.
That’s where the approach of the local comes in. Our partners are organizations that have local input, by-in and ownership in the process of supporting their community. When ideas to support women in their community are home grown they will inherently take on the necessary adaptations and alterations that will make them site specific and (hopefully) ones that work! Local organizations, and those that have deep seated ties to the local community, have the innate flexibility to adapt to changing conditions and to adjust to feedback from their communities in real time.
This holiday season, while we are all going home to be with our family and loved ones, take a moment to think about the different versions of home that happen all over the world. These are varied and beautiful and we at WPMarket feel fortunate to support them, and, as always, hope you join us in the journey!
Dana and Rachel
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