Practical answers to poverty
Using our expertise in simple and appropriate technology, we make technology work for people living in poverty through innovative thinking.
Sustainable development is crucial if poor people are to improve the ongoing quality of their lives. Our technologies are easily replicable, affordable and sustainable.
We help people to create their own solutions, apply and share ideas and skills that make their lives better and their communities stronger.
Practical Action works with people in poor communities to improve their quality of life today and for generations to come. We actively engage with local people to come up with innovative, practical solutions, which address their real needs.
We respond to our local partners’ needs and have an in-depth understanding of the countries, cultures and environments in which we work.
We are passionate about tackling poverty and social injustice and share this passion with the people we work with. Together we aim to create sustainable solutions for today and tomorrow.
The core principles which inform all of Practical Action's work are:
Putting people first
Our work with technology is people-centred i.e. focuses support on what matters most to the people with whom we work, respects their rights, and supports their own efforts to improve the quality of their lives;
Working in partnership
People living in poverty are partners in their own development. Practical Action can help them to get access to information, knowledge and options – to identify their priorities and choose the way to deal with them.
A concern for future generations
Practical Action projects aim to be sustainable – economically, environmentally, socially and institutionally
Respect for diversity
Practical Action policies and practices respect basic human rights of all people regardless of their differences in terms of gender, ethnicity, religion or physical ability.
The Practical Action approach to its work is sees technology as a vital contributor to people's livelihoods – but defines ‘technology’ as including the physical infrastructure, machinery and equipment, and the associated knowledge and skills, and the capacity to organize and use all of these.
Practical Action works in partnerships at all levels to enable women and men to access new and improved technologies and to make informed choices from the range of technical options available to them. It seeks further to empower women and men to change in their favour the institutions, policy processes, legal standards and development decisions that affect their lives – building from the local to the national and international levels.
Practical Action gains knowledge and experience through practical projects with local partners. We combine our learning with partners with research and best practice around the world. While our practical work is at a local level we aim to maximise our impact on poverty reduction by informing and influencing the national and international practices and policies that affect the lives of women and men living in poverty.
Practical Action was founded by radical economist and philosopher Fritz Schumacher, most famous for his 1973 book 'Small is Beautiful', who argued that there should be a shift in emphasis towards 'intermediate technologies' based on the needs and skills possessed by the people of developing countries.
Schumacher's ideas and philosophy continue to inform and inspire our work around the world.
More on Practical Action/ITDG's history and founder »
Practical Action's vision and mission
A world free of poverty and injustice in which technology is used to the benefit of all
To use technology to challenge poverty, working with poor people to:
- Build their capabilities
- Improve their access to technical options and knowledge and
- Help them influence the social, economic and institutional systems for innovation and use of technology