technology challenging poverty - about us

Practical Action

Simple ideas that change lives forever

Practical Action is a development charity with a difference. We know the simplest ideas can have the most profound, life-changing effect on poor people across the world. For over 40 years, we have been working closely with some of the world's poorest people - using simple technology to fight poverty and transform their lives for the better.

Practical Action 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.

Using technology to change the world

Practical Action believes that the right idea - however small - can change lives. It can create jobs, improve health and livelihoods, and help people have better lives. That's why, since 1966, we've been working with poor people to develop the skills and technology that will enable them to build a better future.

Practical Action's approach really is unique - and through our four international programmes we focus our work on the following areas:

Micro-hydro, solar, wind, biogas

Urban poverty and shelter
Building, housing, planning

Ropeways, trailers, roads

Water and sanitation
Rainwater harvesting, irrigation

Food and agriculture
Farming, agroprocessing, biodiversity

Climate change
Adapting to cope with climate change

ICTs and knowledge sharing
Computers, radio, video, podcasts

Disaster risk reduction
Floods, droughts, earthquakes

We are currently implementing over 100 projects worldwide. In addition to this, our consultancy and educational work extends the reach of our practical approach to tackling poverty. In 2007-8 we used technology to directly benefit around 792,000 poor women and men through 141 projects in 13 countries.

Through our international work, we demonstrate alternatives, share knowledge and influence change.

We aim to tackle the underlying causes of poverty by campaigning to influence policies, institutions and processes, achieving greater and more lasting impact from our work.

Our Technical Information Service, Practical Answers, aims to provide a means of accessing the wealth of technical information held by Practical Action, through technical briefs or the resource centre.

Our Education unit offers a range of support services for teachers and young people in the UK looking to address sustainable development within their teaching and learning.

Lessons from Practical Action's grassroots experience are also spread through consultancy services and publishing activities.

Working around the world

Latin AmericaEast Africa Nepal Southern Africa Bangladesh South Asia Head Office - UKSudan

Practical Action works directly in four regions of the developing world - Latin America, East Africa, Southern Africa and South Asia, with particular concentration on Peru, Kenya, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal.

Practical Action was founded in 1966, as ITDG (the Intermediate Technology Development Group), by the radical economist Dr EF Schumacher to prove that his philosophy of 'Small is Beautiful' could bring real and sustainable improvements to people's lives.

With our commitment to poverty reduction, environmental conservation and technology choice we think Practical Action is uniquely placed to contribute to a world free of poverty. Practical Action's history »

For further information about Practical Action:

click here to donate online via secure server With your help, we can turn poverty around
Our work depends on your support. Voluntary donations are the lifeblood of our work with poor communities around developing world. Make a donation online now or discover other ways to get involved.

Practical Action, The Schumacher Centre for Technology & Development, Bourton on Dunsmore, Rugby CV23 9QZ, United Kingdom
T: +44 (0) 1926 634400 | F: +44 (0) 1926 634401 | E:

Contact details for all Practical Action offices and subsidiaries

Legal information | Practical Action is a registered charity and company limited by guarantee | Company Reg. No 871954, England | Charity No 247257 | Patron: HRH The Prince of Wales

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