Fat of the Land – what did you think?

We hope you enjoyed our spoof video. It was created to provoke debate and get people thinking about development in a different way. More »

See others’ reactions and why the video was made, or add your voice to the conversation below …

8 responses to “Fat of the Land – what did you think?”

  1. Sarah Says:

    This is quite a bizarre video and doesn’t really help the debate over development progress. We all get the proverb, ‘Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.’ Well what is Practical Action saying they are doing? Helping him figure out an innovative new way to get bigger catches? The real questions they should be asking are, ‘why is he not able to do this for himself? Why is the local environment not able to help him develop a new solution? Why does Practical Action, a foreign NGO, need to wade in and help him?’ The answer is probably to do with the fact that even if he could catch more fish he wouldn’t have anywhere to sell them – maybe the roads are too bad to transport them to market – or that there are no local suppliers for the materials he needs to store extra fish or something else.

    Practical Action is doing a job that should be done locally by entrepreneurs with all the support networks and favourable policies that they need. They are in fact displacing these local entrepreneurs. They should focus their attention on the systemic problems rather than narrow technical solutions that can only realistically help a small minority of people.

    Just a thought.

  2. margaret Gardner Says:

    Practical Action is an international organisation and while our head office is in the UK, all of our staff in each country are local. This is an important part of who we are. We are grounded in the countries where we work.
    We fundementally believe that acros sthe world we have learning we can all share but we certainly dont believe in external organisations wading to help and imposing solutions. This, I hope, was one point made in the spoof video.
    Entreprenuers have an important role to play in development but so do governments, NGOs and broader business. We often work together for example in Zimababwe we are working with locally based community enterprises to deliver village level energy solutions, in Peru we are working with the dairy sector – companies some of whom are quite large to individual entreprenuers, helping thousands of people in the remote Andes.
    But a view that sees entrepreneurs alone as the root out of poverty is a view that is overly narrow. Without the tools, infrastructiue and policies required entreprenuers will not flourish and even if they do the end point is not always poverty reduction. Analysis by the New Economics Foundation showed that for every $100 of ecconomic growth in developing countries between 1990 and 2001 only $0.60 trickled down to those peopl ein deep poverty – people living on less than $1 a day.

  3. margaret Gardner Says:

    What do we at Practical Action believe is good development?
    We believe that technology and the economy must put people first. We beleieve in a new way of development, onethat is severly practical and that starts with people and their communities. We believe that technology has an important role in securing social justice, poverty eradictaion and the future of our planet. At the centre of our approach is participation. Wwe work with communities to use technology as a lever out of poverty.
    We believe too that the world needs to cahnage and our vision is of a sustainable world free of poverty and injustice in which technology is used to the benefit of all.

  4. margaret Gardner Says:

    And finally yesterday someone told me that a very large UK organsiation I always throught of as doing great things – only lobbies (I wont name names in case what the guy told me is wrong). I was shocked and disappointed. Sarah I know this is the type of organsiation you would like us to be.
    We aren’t that type of organisation – we know that policies have to change, we recognise that we sometimes have a role in helping them change – but the changes or advice we give we believe must be rooted in the work we do, listen to the people we work with and our advice grow out of experience.
    Sorry for going on so long – maybe I should have put this together into a blog – rather than keep going with comments.

  5. Elaine Says:

    ‎Who is this advert for? The idea that development projects should be sustainable and participatory rather than a quick fix isn’t exactly new. Sorry but I don’t see the need to spend a lot of money making quite a gross ad to convey this fairly obvious message. I am however all for people documenting things that haven’t worked and what they’ve learnt from it, for example, http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/poverty-matters/2011/jan/17/ngos-failure-mistakes-learn-encourage?CMP=twt_fd

  6. Abbie Upton Says:

    Hi Elaine,

    Thansk for your comment. The video was generously donated to us by an advertising agency called Quietstorm, we have invested a small amount of money to promote the video to raise awareness of important issues and help generate new supporters.

    The intention of the video was to reach out to new audiences, to people who don’t normally think about development and get them involved in the debate about the right way to do it. Thanks to the video’s slightly shocking nature it has caused a stir and got people talking – which is exactly what we wanted.

    I hope that helps,

  7. Elaine Says:

    Ok I get the point of promoting discussion but at what expense? And what is really going to be discussed by these new audience? Yes it is saying some development projects are bad but it also shows a very negative stereoptyed portrayal of Africans as passive and stupid. I know it is a spoof but it blurs too many lines, makes the message very unclear. Let’s put it this way I think you would’ve got a very different ad if it had been made by an African film director. It feels like a group of white ad agency types sat around in their Soho office without any real clue as to what good or bad development is – they just wanted to do something cool and shocking. I know this is fairly harsh but you wanted to promote discussion so here it is!

  8. Abbie Says:

    If the video has just annoyed you then we apologise. We are aware that it won’t work for everyone but reaching out to a younger audience is important and spoofs – just like this – are a good way to do it (or at least something we wanted to try).

    We thought long and hard about using the video. It was great to be offered such a fantastic resource for free and in the end we decided that we had to use it. We honestly believe this debate is so important.

    To address your question of what is going to be discussed by these new audiences – we want to encourage people to think about long term development. Helping people to help themselves as opposed to giving them handouts. Personally, I’ve already seen it working, a group of my friends spent a good hour discussing the video Saturday night and what the right kind of development is. These are people who didn’t previously know anything about development and frankly weren’t interested in it. If this video means that they have started thinking about it and might now choose Practical Action as a charity they will support then that’s fantastic.

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