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Thursday, August 1, 2013

How Sustainable Is It?

There’s a lot of innovative work aimed at helping the poor. This work is highlighted in the media and creates excitement because it often involves leading-edge technologies and solutions; but is it sustainable?

A solar powered water filter that creates 15 litres of clean drinking water per day, or a state-of-the-art water system that gives hundreds of people access to clean water are both innovative, but also require technicians to maintain or repair.

Real innovation is focused on ensuring that people, in this case the poorest of the poor, can build whatever they need, and maintain whatever they’ve built.

Real innovation results in people being able to sustain themselves.

In our work, being sustainable means that once an initiative is running smoothly, it no longer requires help from the outside world. The people involved are able and committed to continue transforming their lives and no longer need our support. This approach to sustainability is crucial to the success of our work overseas.

We are constantly re-evaluating our work and outcomes.

Are we creating opportunities for people to transform their own lives? Are we confident people will carry on the work of transformation when our part is complete? Will people share their new knowledge, expertise, and success with others in their community or region?

The sustainability of the transformation relies on the ability of the people being helped to grow, and thrive, through their own efforts, long after our involvement.

This approach transforms lives exponentially. It teaches people how to create solutions for themselves and allows them to spread that help to others around them.

What kind of innovation do you want to create in the world; how do you want to help?