James Leroy Wilson's blog

Monday, January 17, 2005

Who Controls the Relief Effort?

Kevin A. Carson writes:

According to "Plunkett's Law," formulated by energy technologist Dr. Jerry Plunkett, governments have an "almost incurable habit" of choosing large-scale technologies over smaller-scale, decentralized ones; when there are two alternative solutions to a problem, equally viable technically, government will inevitably choose the one most amenable to centralized, bureaucratic control. [Kirkpatrick Sale, Human Scale (Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, 1980), p. 215]

The Intermediate Technology Development Group takes the opposite approach. The ITDG is providing relief on its own nickel, which is important. But even more important, it's providing reconstruction aid in the form of human-scale technology that local people can control for themselves. The ITDG, sounded by the late E.F. Schumacher, operates on the following philosophy:

ITDG has a unique approach to development – we don't start with technology, but with people. The tools may be simple or sophisticated – but to provide long-term, appropriate and practical answers, they must be firmly in the hands of local people: people who shape technology and control it for themselves.

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