Do we really invest enough and in impactful ways when it comes to developmental support for poor communities?

“This pic is of a borehole which had been left open. These boreholes you can find in many places. The communities get water from it. Often these boreholes have no cover which makes it very risky to small children and aged people. It’s all seasoned boreholes, ca. 40ft deep,” explains our local NGO partner.

It is a small, but very powerful step to minimize the risk. Just cover it and secure in this way the community. Safety of health, safety against accidents. But there is a but…

Often there is a lack of awareness and financial possibilities to do it – on the local site and … a lack of of interest to tackle the small things when it comes to social support and projects

Can you imagine a headline saying we help Africans by helping to cover thousands of boreholes? Maybe, but the emotional effect it has on the reader is much lower than “running big health screenings or opening new facilities and much less than helping with tangible items such as food parcels to be distributed to children. The emotional degree of support that we feel often drives our decisions. Tackling obviously hunger or doing something against big health issues makes us feel well and people tell us that it is well done. But what is about the numerous small risks which are more “hidden”?

Don’t get me wrong it is not about saying that support against hunger and diseases as mentioned above are not needed or that they do not help. It is just about the way on how we look at needs that is somehow very limited and seen through eyes of people who live in a complete different surrounding. Based on these perceptions, based on facts and figures we work out on what we perceive we take decisions what is „needed“ and what is not. And let’s be sincere: covering boreholes is not on the top of these needs we see.

Emotional effects vs impact

The impact? Well , the impact of covering boreholes is really high. Because covering these boreholes is not just a question of safety, but also of hygiene. All the bacteria that can accumulate easily in these boreholes causes a lot of diseases in animals and human beings.

„When we started to cover boreholes it’s about ensuring that the poor communities draw clean water from it for domestic and animal use ,as this is the only source of water serving about 250 people in this area, adds Chris our local social worker. „It’s one small, but essential part besides the distribution of food as well as spraying for bedbugs and fleas. Besides health trainings and empowering people with income generation. Besides many other things.

It’s the holistic support that makes it sustainable

Therefore, if we think developmental work in a really sustainable way, it is really important to

– understand well how daily life looks, where are the “hidden” challenges

– listen to the local people and not just trust on what we see from outside.

– find partners who help to tackle the daily challenges, in parallel to ensure a holistic approach of support

– go beyond the own interests of a NGO or a company who invest in a certain area only and to help to build also hubs and networks with others so that the support can become a more holistic one .

– to invest also in issues which “emotionally and media- based” are neglected.

It’s about enlarging our own horizons on how we think about tackling poverty and human needs and to go rather for an inclusive thinking and decision making that realizes the whole situation, not just a particular issue.

Our social responsibility is not well done if we invest just in an area we see.

What do you think?

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