Practical Action was founded by economist Fritz Schumacher, following an article published on 29th August 1965 in The Observer entitled 'How to help them help themselves', calling for a radical change in international aid policy and provoking considerable debate.

Schumacher’s influential book, Small is Beautiful, published in 1973, helped to spark the green movement and inspired organisations around the world to rethink economics and development theory.  Practical Action is the oldest member of the Schumacher circle, the family of organisations inspired by his philosophy.

Fritz Schumacher  believed strongly that technology could play an important role in lifting people out of poverty. But he saw the need for a different form of technology, human in scale, which allowed a form of economic development ‘as if people mattered’. 

Over the last 50 years, Practical Action has been putting these ideas into practice, backed by our amazing supporters.

Feedback from our supporters

Last year we approached some of our supporters for feedback for our 50th anniversary. We asked for three words that they thought summed up our o...

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We are 50

Celebrating Glorious 50 years of Practical Action Practical Action was founded by economist Fritz Schumacher, following an article published...

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Reflecting on running the Himalayas

In 1983, two intrepid young men,  Adrian and Richard Crane ran the Himalayas in a record 101 days raising £60,000  for Practical...

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Sudan celebrates 50th anniversary with Technology Justice conference

Practical Action Sudan celebrated the organisation's 50th Anniversary through the first Technology Justice Conference in Sudan.  It was...

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Financial fundraisers show their passion for Practical Action

Two brave staff members, Gita Patel Practical Action's Global Head of Finance and Lesley McIntosh, Head of  Internal Audit h...

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Celebration of the life of George McRobie

On 4th November Practical Action held a celebration of the life and work of one of our founders George McRobie, a close associate of EF Schumach...

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Fiftieth anniversary blogs

50 technologies - the vote is in

We're drawing our 50th anniversary year to a close at the end of August, by celebrating 50 succes...
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India Celebrates 50th Year of excellence of Practical Action

"To talk about the future is useful only if it leads to action now." EF Schumacher Looking bac...
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Being Young

At least, a smile means something; The satisfaction of being the reason of it, The happiness to...
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Our 50th anniversary offers an opportunity to spread this message more widely and increase our impact on the lives of some of the poorest people in the world.

Our 50th anniversary exhibition of photographs gives a taste of the wide range of our work over the years, focusing on technologies that have had a significant impact on their communities. It covers the many regions where we work in Latin America, Africa and South Asia.

Today Practical Action is active in 45 countries across the world delivering clean water and sustainable energy, improving food security and reducing the risk of natural disasters, demonstrating that technology has the power to transform lives. 

Practical Action believes in Technology Justice, providing access to the basic technologies essential for a minimum standard of living for the two billion people currently living in poverty.  We also argue for a shift in the focus of technological innovation away from consumer wants to the two great challenges of our time - eliminating poverty and providing a sustainable future for life on this planet.   

Our international programmes

Practical Action is active in 45 countries across Asia, Africa and Latin America, delivering clean water and sustainable energy, improving food security and reducing the risk of natural disasters, demonstrating that technology holds the answer to many of the world’s problems and has the power to transform lives.

Where we work

"Development does not start with goods; it starts with people and their education, organisation and discipline"

Fritz Schumacher

Read the Observer article that led to the founding of Practical Action

History of ITDG / Practical Action

Timeline of 50 years of Practical Action

50th anniversary launch with HRH The Prince of Wales

Access to the internet, mobile phones and renewable energy are technologies that should be available to everyone, whoever, and wherever they are. This was the message from Practical Action at the reception hosted by The Prince of Wales, Practical Action’s Patron, launching the charity’s 50th anniversary.

Chair of Trustees, Helena Molyneux spoke about the anniversary.

“We've come a long way in 50 years, but we have retained our passion for the principles of Technology Justice – people being able to choose and use technologies that assist them lead a life they value, without compromising the ability of others and future generations to do the same. This year is a crucial one for the planet and the people on it. The debates and agreements due to be signed this year on the UN Sustainable Development Goals for eradicating poverty and on climate change, are vital. Practical Action works at the crossroads of development and the environment and our approach has never been more relevant”.

 

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