Are too few development workers interested in the power of technology?

Teaching Improved Stove Manufacturing Techniques in RwandaAs many people who read blogs from me and other people involved with Practical Action, we have a particular focus on technology, and how it can help to solve some of the world’s poverty issues. We have some great projects helping millions of people around the world to get access to electricity through small scale technologies like micro-hydro power schemes; manufacture improved stoves (like the one on the left); to access agricultural extension information through pod-casting; to grow food in flood zones with floating gardens; and to turn sewage and kitchen waste into fertiliser & cooking gas. I could go on but I won’t.


We believe that technology has the power to help millions of people to escape poverty, but today 90% of the world’s investment on new technologies is spent helping to fulfil the desires of middle class consumers, who want the latest app, or a slimmer smart phone. Not on the needs of the 2 billion people without access to sanitation, or the 2.7 billion without access to modern energy.
We’re currently recruiting for a Policy Adviser who can help us to make this point to more and more people. To technology companies, to academic institutions and government officials. We’d like to work with others to build a movement for change. We know it will take time, but we’re convinced that by working with others, we can make a much bigger difference than by working on our own. Filling this position with the right person will be a good start.

We actually tried to recruit once before. In the first round, we decided not to hire anyone, but I was struck then by the fact that so few of the applicants had any experience of development. It made me wonder whether there are too few agencies like us who are working to harness the potential of technology.

This makes me only more enthusiastic to try to get someone into the post, and to help us share our views, and experiences with more people than we currently do.

If of course there is anyone who reads this, and would like to apply here is the link,  I’d love to hear from you.


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