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  • How to maintain momentum: Fundraising edition

    October 18th, 2016

    So you’ve had that great idea – you are raring to go. But how do you keep up the momentum? After having the idea to end all ideas, it can sometimes be quite difficult to keep the money coming in. So here are a few ideas to keep your audience – and yourself – engaged with the grand challenge ahead.

    Get your social media on


    Fundraising for Practical Action

    Social media is tricky. It can be hard to know sometimes how much to post: are those ten carefully crafted pictures of your trip abroad enough? Or are they too much? It’s important to get the balance right, and that applies to fundraising as well. You don’t want to overload your audience, but you do want to keep them informed. Social media is the key to engaging people today, and so to keep those pounds pouring in you have to strike a balance. When engaging people in your fundraising journey it is important to create a sense of story. If you are posting pictures of your progress, consider how those pictures might be viewed within the wider narrative. It’s important to include people in your story – if someone donates a large amount of money, or joins you in your fundraising efforts, why not take the time to thank them? The more people you involve, the more potential your post has. Always make sure anything you post can be understood and shared by others – the more people that see your posts, the more money you make!

    Challenge yourself

    If you are fundraising for a specific cause – say by climbing Kilimanjaro – why not keep people engaged by staging smaller events in the lead up to the main event? Try attending an event in all your mountain gear, and get people really talking about what you are trying to do. By regularly refreshing your fundraising output, you keep people talking and engaged in the task at hand. The more you get people talking, the more attention your cause will receive. Utilising those natural networks is an essential part of raising more money – friend of a friend, and all that. People are a natural resource when trying to reach more people, so if you can keep yourself fresh in the minds of those with deep pockets, you’ll be well on your way to raising a few more pounds. Challenging yourself, and the people you are trying to reach, is a fun and fresh way to keep people clicking.

    Practical Action challenge eventer

    Practical Action challenge eventer

    Keep it simple

    People today are very busy, and very easily distracted. If you want to keep people on board with your fundraising journey, you’ve got it keep it simple. Whether you use a JustGiving page or a collection pot, make sure your fundraising pot is readily accessible. With every post you make, every event you attend, and every tweet you hashtag, make sure the appropriate donation channel is attached in a glaringly obvious way. Keep the donation forms straightforward, the attached links direct and the pleas for attention on point. It only takes the smallest reason to dissuade someone from parting with their money so make sure you never give someone the opportunity to talk themselves out of giving their money to you!

    Put yourself on show

    Practical Action's 50th anniversary quilt

    Practical Action’s 50th anniversary quilt

    When your fundraising journey begins, the very first people you’ll ask to donate will be the ones who already care about you. While you might inspire a larger following later on in your fundraising journey, those first steps that you take will be with people who have already invested in you. In a world with so many problems, the key to cutting through is to make your cause personal to you. Why did you decide to fundraise for us? What does this cause mean to you? The demands on people’s pockets can sometimes be high, so to keep people spending, you have to tell them why it matters. Why are you doing this? If you connect with them, show them what this means to you, you might just find people are more willing to part with their hard earned cash. Often people connect more with you as an individual, than they do with an issue, so highlighting why this is important to you is key to them understanding why they should donate.

    If you are currently fundraising for Practical Action, and want to talk/discuss your progress contact at:  or visit the fundraising page.

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  • Make handwashing a habit

    So many global days are commemorated and at times you ask for what? After understanding the background, you will learn to appreciate why.

    On Saturday it was Global Handwashing Day – a campaign to motivate and mobilize people around the world to improve their handwashing habits by washing their hands with soap at critical moments throughout each day.

    handwshing in Zimbabwe using a tippy tap

    This simple action of handwashing, when practiced religiously can reduce the risk of illness and death from diarrheal diseases. With 1.7 million children dying from these causes each year, I certainly think that is a great reason to celebrate the day!

    In Zimbabwe we have continued to experience recurrent water and sanitation related diseases outbreaks despite efforts by various governments and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to educate the community. In Bindura, Practical Action Southern Africa has used podcasting technology to raise water and sanitation hygiene awareness (WASH) and reduce diarrheal diseases.

    Through Practical Action`s WASH work, students and community members have been taught the importance of handwashing. Some were with the excuse that handwashing needs soap, but they were taught to use ash as it produces the same results as soap.

    students in Zimbabwe handwashing


    Health clubs were also formed to help spread the messages using podcasting, dramas or word of mouth, which have improved hygiene practices at individual, school and home level.

    Huge successes have been recorded on handwashing. Health club members together with family members now wash their hands before engaging in any activity; for example, before eating and after visiting the toilet. Washing hands using soap has now become a habit to many. People are no longer using the traditional method of washing hands in one dish. The use of jugs, soap and running water is now the order of the day.

    Water is poured over each person’s hands in turn and is then thrown away to avoid cross infection. Many of the participants from health clubs now know the correct handwashing practices.

    Most children used to miss school due to sickness like diarrhoea and Malaria, but after some teachings from school health masters on the importance of handwashing, this is now history.

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  • Habitat III: The buzz word is “implementation” – but will anything really change?

    Lucy Stevens

    Quito, Ecuador, Quito | October 17th, 2016

    Quito Habitat IIIThis week in Quito, the UN Secretary General and delegations from around the world are gathering for the Habitat III conference, and to sign up to the “New Urban Agenda”. This is the first all-UN meeting since the SDGs were agreed and the Paris Climate Agreement was signed. It is a once-in-twenty years opportunity for all member states to agree to a more sustainable, equitable, resilient future for the world’s cities and urban spaces.

    Practical Action is here, speaking at events, and as a member of the General Assembly of Partners, and the World Urban Campaign. We are talking about a greater voice for slum dwellers and the informal sector based on our urban water, sanitation and waste management work. A team from our Latin America office are here talking about the great work we do on disaster risk reduction in urban contexts in general, and as part of the Zurich flood resilience alliance.

    Unlike many UN negotiations, the debate here is less about agreeing the fine details of the text, and more about what will follow. The buzz word everywhere is about ‘implementation’. We need to move from discussion to putting this new agreement into practice on the ground. And the need for that is enormous. The world’s urban populations continue to grow, and with it urban inequalities and the number people living in dire poverty is also growing. People continue to settle on lands which are at risk of natural disasters. And at the same time, evictions of slum dwellers continue, sometimes in the name of development.

    facilitators-raju_origThis stunning set of photographs taken by women slum dwellers as part of a PhD project we are jointly supporting with the Bartlett Centre, UCL, shows some of the daily struggles of accessing water in Kathmandu.

    The Habitat III process is calling for ‘implementation’ and Practical Action among many others is already implementing work in the spirit of the New Urban Agenda: making space for the voices of slum dwellers and informal workers, ensuring they can live with dignity and without fear in safer, cleaner environments. We were already doing this, and will continue to do this.

    Home in a slum in Faridpur, proud of their community

    Home in a slum in Faridpur, proud of their community

    So what added value with having a global agreement bring? Past agreements of this sort provided some added leverage for a few years, and then were largely forgotten, having very little influence. First, it is only if this agreement can be tied both to the SDGs and to global accountability mechanisms that it will really have some traction. Second, it needs to be localised and made real not at the level of national governments, but for local authorities and city leaders.

    The agreement requires a report on progress to the UN General Assembly every four years, feeding into the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development as a way of ensuring coherence with the Sustainable Development Goals. But will this really be enough to ensure progress? So for all the excitement of a global agreement being signed this week, this is surely just the start. Much work remains to be done to lock-in the good words and turn them into something meaningful.

    Practical Action at Habitat III

    Tuesday 18th: 8-10am, National Library CSO Stakeholder Roundtable

    Tuesday 18th: 8-9am R7 Building Inclusive and Resilient Cities for the urban poor to withstand natural disasters. Practical Action Peru DRR lead Pedro Ferradas talking about our experiences of DRR and reducing vulnerabilities.

    Wednesday 19th: 9:30-10:30 R12 Practical Action side event: Slum Dwellers, youth, city-wide planning and accelerating urban service delivery together with DPU and World Vision International.

    Video of Lucy speaking about the issues that matter to Practical Action as part of the World Urban Campaign.


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  • What if? Risk prevention, urban planning and Habitat III

    Peru, South America | October 17th, 2016

    What if instead of reducing risks, we avoid creating risks in the first place? What if, instead of building dykes to protect flood-prone riverbanks where people live, we convert these areas into public areas [rather than residential areas], roads, gardens, soccer playgrounds or any infrastructure that could be flooded without major impacts?

    In the technical language of Disaster Risk Management, this issue lays within ‘risk prevention’, or ‘reducing exposure to hazards’. Exposure to hazards is one of the main causes of people´s vulnerability. It looks quite easy to implement: we only need to prevent people from building their houses in high risk areas. That should not be problematic, assuming that they know that the area is dangerous, right?

    Yes, that should not be difficult in a city where there is appropriate housing for everyone: safe, cheap, and relatively well located (near to work, relatives and social services such as schools and hospitals). Unfortunately, in many cities the housing offer is still insufficient to address the needs of the poor.

    Self-built homes in high risky areas appears too frequently as a satisfactory option for poor people. In Peru, it is estimated that 80% of the housing is self-built[1].  Most of these constructions do not respect quality standards, including land titles, trained masons, materials of quality. In Lima, the capital of Peru, only 3% of the self-built houses can be considered as “formal” settlements[2]. Many of them are also located in high risky areas, especially with landslide and flood hazards.

    Self-built houses in a risky area in Peru prone to landslides.

    Self-built houses in a risky area in Peru prone to landslides.

    We cannot stop people from building their home in risky areas without providing them with a relevant housing alternative: this is where Disaster Risk Management meets land planning and Habitat issues.

    In February 2016, Practical Action Peru promoted the creation of a national civil society network to improve Peruvian cities, with a strong focus to attack the roots of urban risks. The Peru Habitat Committee was born, gathering 23 local NGOs. During eight months, the committee discussed the challenges Peruvian cities are facing, and what could be done to improve disaster risk management, basic services, land planning, governance, etc. The full report can be downloaded here. And it is now time to spread the word to make these recommendations a reality: join us during our side-event at Habitat III on Tuesday 18th, in the Central University of Quito, from 9am to 10am!

    [1] Overseas Development Institute (ODI), On the path to progress, 2015). See

    [2] Cámara Peruana de la Construcción. (2015, Abril). La informalidad en la construcción es una “bomba de tiempo”. 23-31. Informe Económico de la Construcción Num. 3, 23-31

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  • Global Handwashing Day: Making handwashing a habit

    Gemma Hume

    October 14th, 2016

    For many of us, washing our hands is a habit acquired from childhood. We unconsciously wash our hands after using the bathroom, eating and preparing meals.

    Teaching children how to wash their hands properly at an early age.

    One of Practical Action’s projects – providing handwashing facilities and teaching children in Peru how to wash their hands properly at an early age.

    But globally the hand washing habit has yet to completely solidify, mainly due to lack of soap and water or lack of awareness and understanding of its effectiveness in washing away illness-inducing germs and bacteria.

    That’s why on October 15, hundreds of thousands of schools, community groups, organizations, and governments will join together to celebrate Global Handwashing Day. It’s a global advocacy day dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives.

    Diarrhoea is the second biggest killer of children under five years old.

    Every day, around 2,000 children die from diarrhoea. Simply washing hands with soap could reduce the number of these deaths by up to 50%, but many people are not aware of the link between hygiene and health.

    This year, Practical Action is using Global Handwashing Day as an opportunity to teach people across the globe a thing or two about good hygiene.

    Our team in Nakuru, Kenya, for example, is going to Hyrax Hill primary school to give 2,500 pupils and 500 community members a demonstration on how to wash their hands properly.

    Peter Murigi, Practical Action’s urban water, sanitation and hygiene specialist in Kenya, said: “We want to foster and support a culture of handwashing with soap, shine a spotlight on the state of handwashing around the world and raise awareness about the benefits of handwashing with soap at critical times.

    “This year’s theme for Global Handwashing Day is “Make handwashing a habit”. The event is a good opportunity to draw attention to the need for change, from individuals, families and governments and by asking for better hygiene policies and commitment to promote better hygiene practices.”

    In Bangladesh, we are partnering with other NGOs and the Bangladesh Government’s Department of Public Health Engineering (DPHE) to celebrate the day both centrally in Dhaka and locally. In Dhaka, we’re taking part in a campaign rally and a meeting organised by the DPHE as a co-organiser. Locally, we are the lead organisation in celebrating the day in three districts: Faridpur, Satkhira and Bagerhat.

    Practical Action delivers significant water supply, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programmes and we are ambitious to do more. We promote the community-led sanitation approach with partners and local governments, demonstrating best practice and developing innovative technologies for clean water and waste management. And we work with national and city governments to ensure that poor people are included in sanitation planning.

    In Nakuru we have delivered an ambitious project, funded by Comic Relief, to improve the quality of life for slum communities of 190,000 people, by providing access to safe, hygienic toilets and handwashing facilities. You can find out more about that project here and find out what Jack Owino, a headteacher of a school in Kenya, has to say about the impact it has had on staff and children at his school.

    Jack Owino is the Headteacher of Eileen Ngochoch Primary School in Nukuru, Kenya.

    Jack Owino is the Headteacher of Eileen Ngochoch Primary School in Nukuru, Kenya.

    In Bangladesh we have been working with UNICEF in 500 communities and 200 schools across Dhaka and Sylhet to improve sanitation and promote a change in hygiene behaviour.

    Children at a school in Bangladesh using their new handwashing facilities.

    Children at a school in Bangladesh using their new handwashing facilities.

    It has changed the lives of 70,000 students. They are healthier, happier, are able to attend school more regularly and their performance at school has improved. Find out more in this blog by Alamgir Chowdhury in our Bangladesh urban services team.

    Projects like this depend on your support. Please help us to work with communities around the world to prevent diseases and save lives and spread the word that more needs to be done to make handwashing a habit.

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  • 20 seconds – the difference between life and death

    Kelly Osborne

    October 14th, 2016

    Yesterday marked my first month of working for Practical Action. I’m amazed at how engaged with the projects I feel and how excited I am to be a part of such an interesting organisation after such a short amount of time! So what better way to celebrate than by writing my first blog?!

    Intrigued by the buzz around the office about the upcoming campaign, I decided to do a bit of reading around indoor smoke inhalation. One thing that really stood out to me was the strong sense of urgency this particular topic conveys – the clock is ticking and every second matters.



    A Nepalese woman and her child cooking on a traditional stove.

    20 seconds.

    What could you do in this time? Put the kettle on? Send a text message? Or save a life?

    “Every 20 seconds a life is lost because a mother like Nafisa has no choice but to cook her family meal on an open fire.”

    Indoor smoke caused by cooking on biomass fuels leads to the deaths of over 4.3 million women, children and men worldwide each year.

    Over 95% of households in Darfur use firewood and charcoal to cook on traditional stoves. In a place where much of the surrounding land is desert, the search for useable firewood is time consuming and dangerous. Mothers like Nafisa have no choice but to waste precious hours that could be used to earn an income, risking their lives to collect the firewood they desperately need to be able to feed their children.

    But the struggle does not end there for Nafisa. She then has to make the impossible choice to cook the family meal on a stove that billows thick black smoke – smoke that fills her home and gets inside her children’s lungs. She knows that this is slowly poisoning them, but what else can she do?



    Training women in Darfur, Sudan to use LPG gas for cooking.

    For over 10 years, Practical Action has been working to find and offer clean energy cooking solutions to families living in harsh environments like Darfur. These improved fuel efficient technologies keep families safe and reduce the environmental impact of cooking on biomass fuels. Over the next 10 years we have estimated that this project will save over 400,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

    Today, you could be part of the solution and help thousands of people across the world. It costs just £112 to buy a stove that could save lives – a stove that would change the life of a family in Sudan forever.


    With a simple, liquid paraffin gas stove, mothers could cook their daily meal without using firewood or charcoal, which will reduce key pollutants in the environment by over 95%.

    So why not make your next 20 seconds count? Make a donation to Practical Action now and help us to stop the killer in the kitchen.

    20 seconds.

    What will you do?



    Click here to find out more about Nafisa’s story.


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  • Resilience – what works, what doesn’t?

    Adele Murphy

    October 14th, 2016

    In his latest blog Colin McQuistan says that preparedness and response for disasters should be a last resort. The extensive time needed to recover and to rebuild capacity following a disaster in low income countries puts a halt to the development process, lends itself to massive economic costs and endangers lives. There seems little disagreement amongst development professionals that proactively building community resilience to disasters is much more effective at maintaining development than solely reactive interventions.

    The Resilience in Practice briefing series that Practical Action has developed through its work on the ground talks about building resilience in volatile environments. As a sector we are moving forward in strides but here’s the thing about resilience – it’s complicated, multi-faceted and with no definitive conclusion on how to measure if we’ve been successful!

    Flood victims are evacuated with their children as they rescued by naval boats in a village in Sukkur in Pakistan's Sindh province August 8, 2010.

    Flood evacuation in Sukkur, Bangladesh Photo: Reuters/Akhtar Soomro, courtesy

    This is not disheartening, how we measure resilience has received much attention in recent years and now the Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance has taken this one step further and is currently undergoing a two year testing phase of its Flood Resilient Measurement Tool. We measure communities before a flood through 88 different indicators which feeds into existing processes and is validated through community feedback sessions. The tool design allows practitioners to view the data through several lenses in order to understand existing issues more fully.

    Following a significant flood incident a post-event study is undertaken within eight weeks of the disaster. This follow up study looks at the extent of the flooding, the damage people suffered and the action they choose to take. As well as being reviewed by the teams, all the data is fed into a global data set. The aim of the global data set is to understand key questions about resilience measurement. Can we identify a key set of indicators of resilience that expands across contexts, are there indicators that carry more weight in particular contexts and finally what can this global study tell us about how we attempt to build resilience.

    I am looking forward to reading the IFRC World Disasters Report launched later today. As two members of the Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance, Practical Action has worked closely with the IFRC on developing the measurement tool and we’ve learned a great deal from one another. Sharing what works and what doesn’t and continually engaging in the global conversation is how we move forward with resilience agenda. Don’t stop!

    Read some of the Alliance publications:
    Making Communities More Flood Resilient: The Role of Cost Benefit Analysis and Other Decision-Support Tools in Disaster Risk Reduction
    What Motivates Households in Vulnerable Communities to Take Flood Preparedness Actions?

    Preparing for El Niño floods in Peru

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  • Climate change is fuelling extreme weather events

    Colin McQuistan

    October 13th, 2016

    On International Day for Disaster Reduction, Hurricane Matthew is a timely reminder of the consequences of inaction on climate change. Changing climates exacerbated by years of ineffective development generates risk for everyone, especially the poorest and most vulnerable those least responsible for the climate change problem.

    We have all seen the news of the devastation that Hurricane Matthew has wrecked on the Caribbean. Matthew, which spawned late in the hurricane season, first struck Jamaica, Haiti and Cuba before turning its attention to the more prepared population in the south eastern United States, and despite diminishing in intensity it has still caused massive devastation and resulted in huge losses.

    Empty shelves as in the US as people stock up on supplies

    Empty shelves as in the US as people stock up on supplies

    So what was so special about Hurricane Matthew? Matthew was a multiple record-breaking weather event. Matthew first became a Category 3 (major hurricane) on September 30, and maintained that status for a remarkable period of time. Making it the longest-lived category 4-5 hurricane in the Eastern Caribbean. Not only did Hurricane Matthew end a nine-year streak without an Atlantic basin category 5 hurricane, it did so at an unusually far south latitude. Its rapid intensification was not forecast by any model, highlighting the need to revise our models based upon climate uncertainty and recognition that warming is making storms more intense and less predictable. Matthew along with the developing storm Nicole both showed very rapid rates of escalation, totally unexpected for storms so late in the season.


    Impacts in the USA and Haiti following Hurricane Matthew

    Impacts in the Haiti and USA following Hurricane Matthew

    We need to start thinking seriously about reversing climate change and we need to start preparing for the worst. This is why Disaster Risk Reduction is vital. Preparedness and response should be a last resort, we must focus on preventing disasters before they happen. We have got to get better at assessing risk and we have got to stop building things in the wrong way and in the wrong place. Despite uncertainty about the consequences of climate change one thing we do know is that sea levels are rising. We know that increases in sea level caused by climate change result in higher and more destructive storm surges so why do we continue to build houses and critical infrastructure on the coast and alongside rivers? This is placing lives and assets in harm’s way.

    Sea level rise 1992 to 2016

    While we fail to act effectively on climate change the world will continue to warm, with more moisture in the atmosphere and higher seas, and it’s hard to dispute that won’t have significant implications for our disaster risk, whoever we are and wherever we live.
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  • Three obstinate questions of energy access

    Vishwa Amatya

    October 9th, 2016

    This blog is based on a note prepared for a Panel at a South Asian Regional Workshop held in Kathmandu funded by DfID and executed jointly by the University of Berkeley and Oxford Policy Management.

    1. What is the most pervasive form of energy poverty?

    IMG_2528Understanding energy poverty or lack of energy access, as I see, needs understanding of energy access in three spheres of energy needs for human society to prosper in a sustained way.

    These three spheres are:

    i) Energy for household uses (includes energy for cooking, lighting and other uses)

    ii) Energy for productive activity of a household to make living in an efficient and humanly manner

    iii) Energy for making community services and activities more effective. Practical Action has been advocating this framework through its annual publication by name, ‘Poor People’s Energy Outlook’

    If we further analyse these energy requirements, they can be lumped together based on application into energy for thermal applications including cooking, electrical energy for light and appliance use, and sporadically mechanical energy, especially in rural areas for various activities (mainly productive use applications, water mills for agro-processing are an example).

    In terms of quantity (energy units) most demand arises for thermal applications of which cooking is the major activity in developing countries, partly contributed also by lower conversion and utilisation efficiency. It is met mainly through the use of solid biomass fuel (mostly non-commercial wood-fuel, occasionally agricultural residues and dried animal dung) in the developing world and some form of commercialised fossil-fuel (kerosene, liquefied petroleum gas – LPG).

    The use of electricity in cooking is very limited. The portion of wood-fuel in the total supply (wood-fire, electricity and fossil-fuel) is progressively more for households located in rural areas, which consequently have more access to forests for firewood. When firewood (or wood-fuel)is collected rather than purchased and a lack of rural employment co-exist side-by-side, there is very little incentive to improve efficiency. Consequently, the technology used for this purpose (solid biomass stoves) is rudimentary, inconvenient and unsafe. Thus, the energy poverty is very much represented by unsafe and unclean way of cooking. The urban poor also face similar problems where they resort to various ways of cooking that are unsafe and unclean.

    The most pervasive form of energy poverty is the lack of access to clean and safe methods of cooking.

    2. Are South Asian households likely to gain access to energy for cooking through electric stoves?

    Compared to other alternatives, electricity is costly, not accessible everywhere and reliability is an issue. The evidences show that the equation is more of LPG/kerosene versus wood-fuel in many situations. The trend of penetration of LPG stoves to substitute wood-fuel and kerosene is seen to be very strong and verifiable with import figures of LPG. The intensity of electricity use for cooking is very low and limited within affluent households. Although newer and more efficient electric technologies like induction cooking stoves are making a strong market entry, it will still take a long time to replace fossil-fuel based cooking solutions. The question of substituting wood-fuel with commercial fuel is more one of availability of time to collect (notion of free/near free wood-fuel) as against affordability of poor rural households.

    It is, therefore, very unlikely that electricity will replace current methods and trends of cooking solution with current supply characteristics and growth trend in South Asia. There may be some exceptions where electricity supply characteristic is an anomaly where electricity is highly subsidised.

    3. What additional interventions will be required to promote alternative cooking technologies?

    A better way with improved stove and smoke-hood. we call it hood-stove

    A better way with improved stove and smoke-hood. we call it hood-stove

    Promoting alternative cooking technologies (alternative to wood-fuel with inefficient device) will have to be dealt in progressive stages. After all wood-fuel use for cooking is not at all a bad thing if it is sustainably harvested and used with a highly efficient device.

    This can start from replacing the current dominant traditional stove (with less than 10% efficiency) with more and more convenient, safe and efficient stoves. Sustainable Energy for All’s multi-tier framework provides five stages of development of cooking energy access with various forms of energy and devices. According to which, energy like electricity and other commercial forms of energy (biogas, LPG, electricity, natural gas, BLEN) and manufactured stoves appear at tbe higher tier and use of biomass in a homemade inefficient stove appears at the lowest end.

    To climb the tier, interventions will be inevitable to make it rapid. If we are looking for a long term solution, interventions have to come from outside and cannot be politically popular, limited, free distribution of stoves, that is for sure.

    The proper market development of stoves where people find their roles as market actors is important for large-scale change to happen. With a proper market system development, an efficient supply chain and after sales service can be established that are profitable and sustainable.

    The necessary interventions to make it happen could be:

    • There may be projects with a limited role of subsidy to kick-start the market but must have a clear exit strategy 
    • Support for market system development with capacity development for market actors
    • Ensure that lack of finance does not hinder the market growth
    • Another important intervention should be geared towards increasing affordability and reducing the availability of free time to make seem wood-fuel a free resource.
    • With proper market development of stoves people will find their roles as market actors.  This is important for large-scale change to happen.
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  • Providing food security through appropriate technology

    Francis Muchiri

    October 4th, 2016

    Technological advances have increased the quality of life expectancy, productivity and income. However, as technology advances, developing countries have consistently missed out on the opportunities to increase their production potential in the varied development fields. Appropriate technological solutions are not easily accessible to poor people who need them most. Food production, for example, offers a clear distinction between technology justice and injustice. The lack of appropriate technology to improve systems denies vulnerable populations off sustainable food production. There is technology available for enhanced food security when appropriate resource management systems are employed.

    IMG_1894It therefore behoves development practitioners to review access rights and supply needs with a bias to safeguarding human rights. Practical Action is leading in maintaining the challenge to the world to see technology ‘as the bringer of consumer gain’ and its potential as a world changer – ‘a lever out of poverty.’

    Practical Action Eastern Africa focuses on areas that impact the poor through an integrated – approach, taking into consideration the unique demands in society realizing that each individual requires solutions customized  to their needs. The overall aim is to ensure that communities gain sustainable livelihoods that create a food secure society and we shall illustrate how.

    Sustainable food production technologies

    Access to adequate and nutritious diet is a major challenge among pastoralists’ communities in the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL’s) in East Africa. The region remains highly dependent on food aid. The persistence for this is not a lack of potential but rather a misconception of policies and reluctance to invest in sound agricultural technologies that are responsive to the changing climatic patterns. The persistence of this challenge requires urgent attention and adoption of more practical options to secure sustainable food production.

    Practical Action’s work in Northern Kenya (Mandera and Turkana) is geared towards ensuring food security (increased availability, access and utilization) to the most vulnerable groups; women and children through increasing their access to appropriate technology, knowledge and skills for equitable and sustainable use of natural resources. Through participatory processes, Practical Action engages with the communities to undertake activities and approaches that touch on all aspects of their livelihoods from agriculture, environment, governance and social equity.

    In order to achieve this, Practical Action has adopted the vulnerability to resilience (V2R) framework. This holistic approach assesses the needs of the resource poor communities and identifies skills and opportunities for them to build more secure and resilient livelihoods. This is to empower the communities to meet their food security and nutritional needs. It also enhances their capacity to cope with the recurrent hazards; drought, floods, livestock disease outbreaks and resource conflicts that are endemic in Northern Kenya.

    Improvements to pastoralist production systems

    Practical Action through the Food Security, Agriculture and Disaster Risk Reduction programme makes sustainable improvements in pastoralist and agro-pastoralist production systems through providing simple technology solutions and promoting ecological utilization of the natural resources.

    This has been achieved through direct and people centered technical assistance on rain water harvesting (sand dams, earth pans, rock catchments) and water lifting technologies (foot pumps, hand pumps and solar water pumping systems),micro-irrigation systems for food cropping (Drought Tolerant Crops) and environmental conservation measures (agro-forestry, contour bands and trapezoidal bands). Practical Action also empowers the pastoralists with skills needed to increase the productivity of their livestock assets through improved animal health and husbandry practices, through the Pastoralists Field Schools (PFS). We use our unique approach; Participatory Market Systems Development (PMSD) to improve the marketing of livestock and livestock products and generate profit and incomes for the pastoralists.



    Over the years Practical Action has undertaken to promote equitable use of natural resources through interventions such as; Land Use Planning and Management, Pasture Management/Grazing Patterns, Soil and Forest conservation. This has enabled the creation of wet and dry season grazing zones to cushion pastoralists against climatic shocks and provide opportunities for diversification of livelihoods into other dry land production systems; aloe vera cultivation, beekeeping, poultry rearing, and agro-pastoralism as alternative options for pastoralists.

    In order to reach impact at scale Practical Action is working with partners and policy makers in developing policies that promote, sustain and create an enabling environment for pastoralism and dry land production systems. Specifically, Trans-Boundary Animal Mobility and Trans Boundary Animal Disease surveillance policies are key for ensuring enhanced productivity of pastoralist systems and have been Practical Action’s priority areas of influence. Due to the changing land use needs, expansion of extractive industries and the demographic surge, Practical Action is leading in influencing adoption of favorable Land Use and Natural Resource Management policy aimed at responding to the threats to pastoralism and their livelihoods by the emerging land use demands.

    The overall goal of Practical Action’s intervention in Northern Kenya is to establish productive and disaster resilient systems for food production and improved livelihood security for the well-being of the communities. This will be measured through increase in food availability, access and utilization, strengthened marketing systems and improved management and governance of natural resources.

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