In a changing world, the rural and deprived areas in the world seem to get the 'short end of the stick'. There are numerous calls for action, in all disciplines, but little change is being observed in most rural areas in Africa. However, need for change continues to persist, to attack the lack of availability of skilled people and prohibitive high costs of service provisioning in rural areas.
Based upon an innovative and methodical approach, in Macha change resulted from action and consistent focus on people. Documentation followed, seemingly in a paradoxical process involving well thought/discussed-through interventions with on-the-fly model adjustments. This interactive learning processes, consistent over eight consecutive years, is based upon action research using observation methodologies like appreciative inquiry and backward mapping. The resulting Theory of Change now guides the overall process and fuels programs aimed at special user groups or at large-scale capacity building, all designed to bring about community-wide change.
All in all, the focus remains – and must be - people, in our case 'the local talent' (or local hero, or change-maker, whatever you call them). A local talent sacrifices an imminent, and often hallowed, ambition for western/urban self-development to a season of personal growth benefiting traditional/rural community-development. The local talent has reached a measurable level of fruitfulness when that person is training her/his successor.
The organisation facilitates this process by capacity building in both human and engineering assets – involving values, training and funding - and aiming for retention capacity thus created in the Works Group. We learned that when the local talent is supported within a respectful learning environment, whether on site or remote through e-learning, while taking care of bare existential necessities (food, shelter, health, etc), personal growth can be explosive. That growth of local talent is aligned with a process of involving all stakeholders deciding on local priorities and focus within recognized local cultural expressions.
And the local talent, seeing the environment progress sustainably, with quality of education and healthcare for her/his children improving, is encouraged, and stays, and leads.