Annual Highlights 2002

More recent reports and accounts are available: Latest annual report

Welcome to ITDGPractical Action's Annual Highlights for 2002. This report is also available as a fully-illustrated six-page PDF document.

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It is nearly 30 years since EF Schumacher published his influential work Small is Beautiful.

The intervening years have seen great changes - not least the impact of globalisation on what we produce and how we consume, of climate change on our deteriorating environment and of the explosive pace of new technology on all our ways of life. What has not changed is that nearly two billion people continue to endure conditions of extreme poverty.

ITDGPractical Action believes it has a vital role to play in contributing to sustainable development and attacking poverty worldwide.

These Annual Highlights 2002 can provide only a snapshot of some of the many vital projects that ITDGPractical Action, with the invaluable backing of its supporters and funding partners, has participated in over the past year. They illustrate how we have worked alongside women and men living in poverty to strengthen their livelihoods through improved access to basic services, to help them prepare for and cope with natural disasters, to make markets work for them and to embrace the challenge of new technologies.

ITDGPractical Action has a tremendous track record of working with poor communities to develop practical answers to poverty. But we must and are doing more. For example, over the last year ITDGPractical Action has put forward an action plan to provide clean, renewable energy for the two billion people in the developing world without access to modern energy and has campaigned to preserve and protect the way of life and role of small farmers. In this increasingly divided and fragile world, ITDGPractical Action aims to increase impact and influence to build a more equitable and sustainable future.

ITDG's Chief Executive, Cowan Coventry

Cowan Coventry, Chief Executive


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We don't know how lucky we are. For many of us turning on a tap to fill a kettle, switching on a light, flushing a toilet or jumping on a bus is second nature. For millions of poor people this isn’t the case. They miss out on services. Power lines, water pipes, roads never reach their homes. What they need is access to services that will open doors to a better life.

Over many years ITDGPractical Action has worked successfully with many communities helping them define their problems and come up with locally managed solutions. Whether it be a road, a small power house, running water for irrigation or the home, local community hard work and ingenuity mixed with technical possibilities is transforming lives.

Poverty, technology and services - ITDGPractical Action's Group Strategy on improving access >>>

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"You have brought us something great.
We can only call it a miracle."

Electricity is the miracle that Francis Mwai, a resident of Kathamba, Kenya, described to ITDGPractical Action visitors.

Kathamba, 130 kilometres north of the capital Nairobi, and Thima are villages involved in a pilot scheme bringing electricity to remote areas where national grid connection is costly and difficult.

Thanks to ITDGPractical Action, Nottingham Trent University and members of Kathamba Self Help Group 2000, a pico-hydro power unit is now providing electricity for 30-plus homes with another 35 awaiting connection. Thima’s scheme already covers 66 homes with more connections planned.

This scheme aims to highlight how these smaller versions of micro-hydro systems can generate electricity from very small streams. Daniel Theuri, Director of the Kenyan Energy Ministry’s Department of Renewable Energy, dubbed it "wonderful".

No more travelling to buy or recharge batteries for lighting, radios or televisions. No more buying fuel for lighting homes. Kathamba villager Sebastian Wakone previously used kerosene for lighting, but now pico-hydro power means that savings on fuel can go towards other essential family budget areas, particularly his children’s education.

"No longer will our children fail to study due to lack of ten bob for purchasing paraffin," said Kathamba Self Help Group 2000 chairman, James Muchira.

While ITDGPractical Action helped provide power generation equipment, technical knowledge and support, the local people contributed the hard physical work. "It has really helped us as a community," according to Thima resident Polly Murimi.

"The project’s most beautiful aspect is not the light but the light being wholly-owned by the community," said Stephen Gitonga, ITDGPractical Action East Africa’s energy programme manager when the scheme was being developed. Project electricians, all local people, believe picohydro power is appropriate technology: affordable and cheap to maintain.

Good news about pico-hydro power is spreading with many enquiries for information now coming from other Kenyan districts.

Mobilising isolated communities

For many poor people living in the developing world’s remote parts, trips to markets, hospitals, schools and wells are long difficult journeys on foot over rough terrain.

Lack of mobility and access increases isolation and is a major cause of poverty. Much of Sri Lanka’s rural road network is poorly maintained with vehicles like buses unable to reach remote communities, particularly in rainy seasons.

ITDGPractical Action is actively involved in community-based road building schemes linking isolated areas to higher status highways where public transport operates to improve and speed up journeys. Over 22 kilometres of rural roads, primarily using earth and gravel, were constructed in the past year with a total of 400 local people involved.

Training of more communities and organisations in earth-based road building is underway. Other work has included researching and distributing information about rural transport issues and encouraging community suggestions on tackling and reducing travel needs.

In Nepal, ITDGPractical Action’s projects have included developing bicycle trailers for tasks such as transporting products to market and low-cost river-crossing devices based on existing wire bridges incorporating a new trolley design. Two gravity ropeway systems installed in the high hill Mustang district for sending fruit and other products to market save time and labour and this technology could be employed elsewhere in Nepal.

"This work is widely accepted by the communities because of the appropriateness and affordability of the technologies," said ITDGPractical Action Nepal’s Upendra Shrestha. ITDGPractical Action’s Eastern Sudan programme included training metal workers to manufacture wheels and intermediate transport modes. An animal-drawn cart was designed as a cheap transport option. Projects in Sudan’s North Darfur state include community-built feeder roads connecting villages to markets and services.

Community road-building in Sri Lanka

Members of the community construct the road themselves

A bicycle ambulance trailer in Bhairahana, Nepal

A ropeway river crossing in Nepal

The reservoir, dam and outlet pipes of the Nyamarimbira Integrated Water Project

Members of the community helped to dig the trench for the water pipes

Children in the local primary school, which needs electricity in order to expand to take secondary school children.

"Water, you are important
Water you are wonderful
How wonderful and essential you are
No water, no food
No food, no survival
Water we need you all the time

In 1992 I still remember you
You were lifeless and ruthless
Animals and people perished
They starved to death because of drought
There was no water
Water you are very important."

(Extract of a poem 'Water is important’ by Zivanai Parato, Grade 6 student, Tsatse Primary School - Ward 21, Nyanga District, Zimbabwe - 2002)

No pipe dream

Clean piped water arriving in Zimbabwe’s Tsatse village marks the culmination of years of anticipation, preparation and action by local people and inter-agency involvement including ITDGPractical Action.

Officially launched earlier this year, the Nyamarimbira Integrated Water Project was developed to bring water from the surrounding mountains to the local community for drinking, sanitation, irrigation and generating electricity for the local school and businesses.

The move for the scheme followed droughts in 1982/3 and 1992/3 when the community realised the vital need to tap these water supplies. An initial idea was outlined to Zimbabwe’s Lands and Agriculture Ministry and Agritex, a government body providing extension services to farmers.

The community approached ITDGPractical Action, which had implemented the nearby Nyafaru micro-hydro scheme, for technical assistance. Other partners included German Agro Action, Agritex and the District Development Fund.

Local people worked hard over a long period providing labour, gathering construction materials and organising on-site task management. "It was a mammoth task to imagine how construction equipment like pipes and cement would be transported to the project site bearing in mind the steep terrain. But, as they say, where there is a will, there is a way," said local resident Victor Mavhunga.

The project’s community members each received a 0.1-hectare plot of irrigable land following its completion.

Power to the People

ITDGPractical Action’s practical message of empowering the powerless using renewable energy for remote communities lacking main electricity grid connection is gaining development boosts in Asia.

In Sri Lanka, the use of community-managed micro-hydro power systems for village electrification is now accepted as viable by a number of provincial governments, private sector companies and the World Bank.

After ITDGPractical Action successfully helped demonstrate village hydro power’s value in Sabaragamuwa Province, the provincial council allocated ten million rupees (£70,400) for similar schemes during 2002. The World Bank-established energy services delivery project for village hydro commissioned ITDGPractical Action to help develop engineering, manufacturing and community support for creating local electricity consumer societies and maintaining micro-hydro systems within Sabaragamuwa.

The desilting/settling tank and sluice gate of an ITDG micro-hydro schem in Sri Lanka

A Sri Lankan Government Ministerial visit to an ITDG micro-hydro project, which resulted in similar schemes across the country


We all suffer from unexpected shocks and setbacks. Be it a failed MOT test, the boiler breaking down or tiles being blown off the roof in a gale, we can generally cope. We probably have savings or friends and family we could borrow the money from to cover these unexpected financial costs. Not so if you are poor. That is why ITDGPractical Action's work is geared to strengthen poor people's ability to cope with shocks.

Poverty, technology and vulnerability - ITDGPractical Action's Group Strategy on improving reducing vulnerability >>>

Young women carrying bricks for building on their heads, at the new Women's centre at Kafoat, Northern Darfur

Mixing the mortar for the building of the new Women's centre at Kafoat, Northern Darfur

Members of the Gedarif Women's Society, who received training from ITDG in food processing, selling their products at Gedarif town market

Civil war has inflicted deep wounds on Sudan

In the Eastern Sudan region of Kassala and Gedarif states, ITDGPractical Action is assisting poor Sudanese people who have fled conflict in the country’s western and southern areas to build new lives. A particular focus is the displaced poor with special emphasis on women, one of the most vulnerable groups.

"Building the capacity of war-displaced people in East Sudan is a challenging project. It is working to provide displaced people with alternative modes of livelihood," said ITDGPractical Action Sudan’s director Mohamed Majzoub.

Over 85 per cent of the women in the project are widows, divorced or household heads. One-quarter are from displaced and refugee communities. After a needs assessment, training has been offered in many aspects including food processing and building materials production.

The programme’s work has included supporting five women’s development associations with a total membership of 5,000, and organising 15 food-processing courses attended by 510 women in 2001/2002.

Technical support and training to small scale production enterprises has included improving product standards, diversification and productivity among metal workers, aluminium casters and blacksmiths.

Home support

An earthquake struck the Peruvian village of Moquegua last year, leaving a trail of destitute humanity and shattered buildings.

ITDGPractical Action offered local people training and support in the construction of new and safer houses using locally available materials and low cost technology. About 100 homes in Moquegua and nearly 300 in similarly earthquake-damaged Ayacucho were constructed by residents with ITDGPractical Action assistance.

A Moquegua resident said: "Before this, the only option we had was to live in small shanties and the rain would have soaked everything. Now we are improving our houses and have learnt how to make adobes and how to build."

Earthquake-reistant houses were built in the Ayacucho area using rammed earth walls and corrugated iron roofs

Reconstruction using rammed earth walling to build a house


Nearly everyone is involved in buying and selling. We buy our food, clothes and many non-essential items, and we sell our labour or ideas. But the market place where this goes on isn't a level playing field. The money that many poor producers earn for selling the things they grow or make is a mere pittance.

ITDGPractical Action has developed technology that can help people process the things they grow or make and add value to the final product. We have also helped many communities and individuals through ways of marketing these products, whether it be peanut butter or selling their skills as a machinist in Zimbabwe.

Poverty, technology, production and markets - ITDGPractical Action's Group Strategy on making markets work for poor people >>>

A woman involved in ITDG's food processing programme in Gedarif, Sudan

Toffee making in Bangladesh

A small bakery in Nepal

Food processing bears business fruits

Food processing is generating money-raising options for many people ITDGPractical Action has helped to train.

By March 2002, a total of about 13,500 people in Bangladesh alone had received training from ITDGPractical Action and our partner organisations in processing products ranging from Chanachur (Bombay mix) and Murali (local popular sweetened snacks) to pickles, jam, cheese, coconut balls and cake. More than 2,000 - 90 per cent being women - had successfully established and expanded their business.

ITDGPractical Action’s North Darfur food security programme provided food processing and preservation training to 1,182 women in 2001/2002 with 62 going on to become trainers themselves. In Eastern Sudan’s Kassala and Gedarif states, ITDGPractical Action has now helped train 9,000 women in food processing for business or home use.

Food processing is one of ITDGPractical Action’s programmes in Nepal achieving the biggest impact and benefit for communities involved.

A key aspect of training for all the programmes involves recognising the benefits of meeting market needs and real opportunities to sell products.

"Through the programme, people can now have an idea how they can increase their income by adding value to their products," said ITDGPractical Action Nepal’s Upendra Shrestha.

Award-winning in Bangladesh

ITDGPractical Action’s food production project in Bangladesh recently received an award for its outstanding contribution to fisheries in Faridpur district from the country’s Disaster Management Minister and the district administration.

Over the past three years, the programme has reached nearly 1,000 small and marginal farmers and, indirectly, another 5,000.

Technology options developed, tested and promoted to increase participants’ skills, production, food security and natural resources management have included fish sanctuaries, cage aqua-culture, mango grafting, indigenous poultry rearing and vegetable seed production and preservation.

The programme has also trained more than 100 rural community extensionists. These are technically skilled members of poor communities trained in fisheries, livestock or agriculture who earn their living by offering specialist technology services to their local community.

One of them is Nikunja Kumar Sen, who wanted to assist poor local farmers in his home village of Singa, Bangladesh in the health treatment of their animals.

The 35 year-old became a para-vet, a rural community extensionist trained in basic livestock first aid including de-worming and vaccination who also advises on cow fattening and cultivation of improved fodder varieties.

"I am now a useful man and can serve the people. I can understand my usefulness when I see a poor farmer’s cow saved because of my skill," he said.

A fish farmer, who has received training and support from ITDG, preparing fodder for fish from rice husk mixed with water and salt

Harvesting pineapple

ITDG helps train community members to offer specialist services in livestock and agriculture

Some technological solutions developed by ITDGPractical Action with local community users:

A ray of hope amid Zimbabwe’s economic gloom is being offered by ITDGPractical Action’s Light Engineering Project.

Three IT Manufacturing service centres in Gweru, Harare and Mutare hire out tools and equipment including lathes and grinding, welding, brick making and sewing machines at competitive prices to people wanting to develop manufacturing skills and produce small-scale capital goods.

Project-established business shops provide outlets for the goods produced, which include grinding mills, peanut butter machines, brick presses, oil mills and maize dehullers.


A simple device is helping tackle health problems caused by indoor pollution.

The smoke hood was developed by ITDGPractical Action in conjunction with a group of Maasai women in Kenya’s Kajiado region. Before the hood’s use, average daily smoke levels from cooking fires in their homes were more than 100 times the accepted international level.

About 2.5 million people in the developing world die annually of illnesses caused by smoke from cooking fires, with women and children particularly at risk.


A hydraulic press for expelling butter tree oil showed 76 per cent extraction compared to 30-40 per cent through traditional methods. "People have now realised that small modifications in the existing technology and small technologies can make their life easier," said ITDGPractical Action Nepal’s Upendra Shrestha.

Sri Lanka

An improved version of a dryer for vegetable and fruit dehydrating has been tested at Haldamulla and Mawathegama.

Adapting hydroponics technology for small farmers has been pilot tested at Beralapanathana village in southern Sri Lanka. This has led to a framework being developed to establish a special support centre for helping disseminate information about tested hydroponics technologies.


ITDGPractical Action believes that the right use of technology has the potential to rid our world of poverty and injustice. For us the issue is not low-tech or high-tech but right-tech. New technologies can offer great potential for poor people if applied in ways that benefit them. In Kenya illiterate women have used hi-tech video equipment to great effect.

But new technology does not come without risk, and used in the wrong way can have disastrous effect. Over millennia poor farmers have developed a colossal variety of seeds to cope with the many diverse environments. But restrictive patents on new technology seeds could stop them using the very seeds they have developed. That is why ITDGPractical Action has played an important role in lobbying for an international treaty that protects the rights of poor farmers.

Poverty, technology and the future - ITDGPractical Action's Group Strategy on making responding to new technologies >>>

International Seed Treaty safeguards the world's crops

A new international treaty that aims to safeguard food security, Farmers’ Rights and international agricultural research was agreed last November by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO).

The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (IT PGRFA) - in shorthand, the International Seed Treaty - will ensure the conservation of the seed varieties of most of the world's major food crops that have been developed over millennia by smallholder farmers but are now rapidly being lost. Without these seed varieties the threat of hunger grows.

ITDGPractical Action with other NGOs advocated for the Treaty with governments, and shared information worldwide through the internet and the media during the seven years of complex negotiations. This effort was recognised by the Director General of FAO at the World Food Summit in June this year and he described NGOs as the "conscience of humanity".

The Treaty is a breakthrough in international governance. It stands at the crossroads of global Agriculture, Environment and Trade agreements. The Treaty will outlaw patents on these seeds and it will implement Farmers' Rights to save, use, exchange and sell seeds. It is the first new Treaty of the 21st century but it is overdue. It is urgently needed to counter the rapid loss of crop varieties from farmers' fields - more than 90 per cent in the past century - and to protect the seeds stored in public gene banks.

ITDGPractical Action will continue its involvement in the issue by campaigning for ratification of the Treaty by UN member states. Find out more about ITDGPractical Action's campaigning work on food and farmers' rights.

A farmer exhibiting her many different seed varities at the Maragwa Seed Show, Kenya.  The Seed Show enables farmers to exchange knowledge on seed types

ITDG-supported community-based seed-banking programmes have allowed farmers to plant a diversity of crops

Girls enjoying investigating the computers in the ITDG internet cafe (Infodes), Cajamarca
Communication - the key to success

One of Peru’s poorest areas, Cajamarca province, has keyed into the benefits of becoming computer-savvy and wising up to the World Wide Web.

Through ITDGPractical Action’s InfoDes service, small-scale producers have been able to use computers at a central co-ordinating unit to access a customised database with details of locally appropriate technology, trade and business issues. An internet link provides opportunities to gain information on subjects including better crop production and processing methods.

Remote access points linked to the central unit were established to serve the widely spread rural communities where most of the province’s inhabitants live. A touring mobile information unit containing video links introduces village residents to the service.

Bernado Parades regularly uses the Cajamarca facility: "It shows how the information potential of the internet can really improve our livelihoods."

Women's Voices

A self-made film on life in Mathare 3B and Redeemed Village, two of Kenyan capital Nairobi’s worst slums, helped illiterate women expose the poverty and other problems in the settlements.

The videoed experiences, which have seen been transferred to CDs and shown around the world, led to the women’s organisations having direct and sustained contact with local political representatives and civil service controllers. The two 15-minute documentaries have been broadcast on Kenyan TV and helped fuel a national debate on slum dwellers’ rights.

Part of the ITDGPractical Action gender and technology programme work Women's Voices, it also won the prestigious 2001 Betinho Communications Prize which recognises outstanding use of information and communication technologies in social justice and development work.

Filming on the streets of Nairobi's slums

Capturing life in Redeemed Village

Development Education

ITDGPractical Action’s Development Education Unit has continued to emphasise the important role and value of sustainable and appropriate technology through its work with UK schools.

A major new initiative is the Sustainable Design Award for A-level design and technology students currently being piloted in six schools in England and three in Wales.

It aims to encourage students to include aspects of sustainable and appropriate technology in their course project work and offers 15 scenarios as possible backgrounds or springboards for design ideas.

The website for ITDGPractical Action’s Sustainable Technology Education Project - - has been revamped to make it more accessible for design and technology teachers.

Technical Enquiry Service

ITDGPractical Action’s Technical Enquiry Service is a major data port of call for individuals, development workers, community-based organisations, NGOs and other agencies seeking information about appropriate technologies for sustainable development.

The service provides detailed advice in response to enquiries covering wide-ranging topics including bee keeping, honey making and growing chillies to opening a crocodile farm and building wind turbines.

It draws on ITDGPractical Action’s bank of expertise, knowledge and experience to answer about 2,000 technical enquiries annually.

Summary of income and expenditure 2001-2002

The group’s total income has risen by £1.6m to £14.1m, an increase of 13% above 2000/2001.

The most significant factor in this increase was the generosity of our supporters. Donations at £3.5m increased by £0.3m (11%) and we had an exceptional year for legacy income, which increased by £0.7m to £0.9m.

Growth in restricted income for our operational programme work was particularly strong in our offices in East Africa and Latin America. The increased income enabled us to spend an additional £0.8m on our projects.

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Our deepest thanks go to all the local communities, staff and supporters who made our work possible this year.

Annual reports

Download ITDG Latin America 2001 - WARNING: very large file - 9.5MbITDGPractical Action Latin America's report for 2001-2002 (in English) is available to download in PDF format. Further information on ITDGPractical Action Latin America can also be found on their website:
Download ITDGPractical Action Latin America report 2002 ~359K

ITDGPractical Action Latin America's report for 2001 (in Spanish) is also available to download in PDF format. Please note that this is a very large file - 9.5 Mb - and will take several minutes to download over a broadband connection and around half an hour over a 56K modem.
Download ITDGPractical Action Latin America report 2001 ~9.5Mb

Download ITDG Sudan's annual report for 2001-2002 - 529KITDGPractical Action Sudan's annual report for 2001-2002 (in English) is available to download as a PDF file. This is a large file and will take around two minutes to download using a 56K modem.
Download ITDGPractical Action Sudan Annual Report 2001-2002 ~529K
ITDGPractical Action Sudan

ITDGPractical Action South Asia's annual report for 2001-2002 (in English) is available to download as a PDF file. This is a very large file and will take around eight minutes to download using a 56K modem.
Download ITDGPractical Action South Asia's Annual Report 2001-2002 acrobat3.gif

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ITDGPractical Action South Asia

itdgea-report-small.gif (6695 bytes)ITDGPractical Action East Africa's Annual Report for 2001-2002 (in English) is available to download as a PDF file. This 18-page document will take around three minutes to download using a 56K modem.
Download ITDGPractical Action East Africa's Annual Report 2001-2002 (670Kb)
or read a text-only version
ITDGPractical Action East Africa

ITDGPractical Action Southern Africa's Annual Report for 2002 is available online in web page format. (The web page itself is around 200K, with a further 500K of illustrations)
Read ITDGPractical Action Southern Africa's Annual Report for 2002

ITDGPractical Action's group annual highlights for 2001-2002 are available in PDF and text formats. Download the group's Annual Highlights 2002 ~850K
Read the Annual Highlights in text and pictures from the top of this page

To read these reports, you will need Adobe's Acrobat Reader.
Find out more about PDF files.

ITDGPractical Action's group strategy for 2003-2007 - Knowledge, Impact, Influence - outlines ITDGPractical Action's vision, mission, core principles, distinctive approach and aims for the coming years

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