Archive for July, 2004

Life at Practical Action

Thursday, July 22nd, 2004 by

Mansoor Ali, who’s been working with Practical Action since 2006 as International Projects Manager looks back on his involvement with our organisation

How did you first heard about Practical Action?
This takes me back – it’s 1978 and I’m in The British Council Library, Karachi, Pakistan. I am preparing for my 12th Grade (A level) exams.

Many books in the library are very useful in preparing for my exam but may not be relevant to the actual problems in the city. My eyes spotted Small is Beautiful and a booklet about Intermediate Technology Group in a shelf.

I just picked that up, read few pages and then borrowed both for further reading. This was the first time I’d heard about Intermediate Technology Development Group or the present Practical Action. 

Prachee, who lives in the slum area of Faridpur, shows the benefits of improved toilets. Her drawing was a winner in the competition to raise awareness of sanitation issues. Photographer: Mansoor Ali

What inspired you to work for us, and makes you so passionate about it?
I was working with WEDC at Loughborough University, which was set-up by Prof John Pickford on the principles of Schumacher’s philosophy applied to water, sanitation and waste sectors.

Between 1992 and 2005 I researched, taught and received my PhD from WEDC. In 2005 and 2006, I did a careful reading of Schumacher’s books: This is what I believe, Small is Beautiful and Guide for the Perplexed. This reading was a turning point for me to involve with more applied work, such as of Practical Action.

My passion is to contribute to poverty reduction in low income countries, and enable my colleagues and partners on the ground to deliver this very effectively.  This passion keeps my energy levels very high.

What are your key aims and best achievements since you’ve been working for us?
I am not really good in thinking about ‘my achievements’. I believe that we are collectively responsible for all success and failures.

My key aim is always to work alongside with our colleagues and especially country staff. One area I think my engagement has benefitted the organisation is on how we plan and analyse programmes on governance.

I feel that we are also entering a new phase of our work, where we are preparing ourselves to face some even bigger challenges affecting the urban poor.

What’s your typical day like?
For me a typical day starts with responding to urgent requests from the country and regional staff, then writing programmes and analysing our learning.  It all comes into focus when I can see the impact in communities where our work is making a real difference – from better toilet facilities, cleaner streets or better energy provision.

You can see more blogs from Mansoor here