Do you have an opinion on how you should spend your dollars to make a difference? There's a debate raging on how to do it effectively, and It's a shouting match with a lot of emotional players. Get in on the action below.
Poverty Cure is working on promoting a new model fo aid distribution which falls very well in line with the social entrepreneurship movement and microfinance. It's a clean, bold video. Primary criticism: Not everyone is born to be an entrepreneur. Also local businesses can't touch bigger public health problems (and often exacerbate them).
Toms has made its rounds recently as a business model with teeth and impact, distributing over 1 million pairs of shoes to developing countries. Primary criticism: Lack of sustainability and destruction of local markets. You can imagine how local cobblers (or the shoe manufacturers in the previous video) might feel about the free shoe drops destroying local demand for their products.
A lot of this is conjecture and really really hard to scientifically test. One of my heroes, Esther Duflo of MIT's Poverty Action Lab, has what I feel is a reasonable answer to this question while framing the debate in a smart and concise way. Just so you know - this is a talk and not a promo, but watch it.
(Backed up here in an amazing book: Poor Economics)
We belive in data, and it's important for us to find the best way to show how we're making a difference.
We know you deserve an update - and here it is! We've been busy, and it was a huge year for us. We've successfully rebuilt a massive community irrigation system and distributed water to hundreds of households in Balang, Cambodia. We also launched a resource management program in partnership with the United Nations, and improved local fishery and livestock programs with the help of the Australian Government. Because of this, we've seen big improvements in farm production and health within Balang.
Our programs continue with your support! Human Translation was built with the idea of helping people like you connect directly to the impact and change you can make in the world. This has kept us operating as a small, lean organization with a focus on individual projects and real results. Please consider us in your year end giving - we'll make sure to let you know how 2012 turns out for us and the villagers of Balang.
Have a wonderful new year, and thank you for your support! Human Translation
Over 1m People Estimated at Risk
The official estimate as of October 31st, 2011 is that 90,300 families in 15 flood-hit provinces have been affected and 97 individuals have perished in Cambodia as a direct result of flooding, including one Westerner. At the moment, about 170,000 hectares of rice fields have been submerged and more than 300 schools were closed, according to Keo Vy, communication officer of the National Committee for Disaster Management.
While the numbers seem high, our local staff have been working on mitigating the impact of the floods. "The Reservoir has helped quite a bit to lessen the flooding below the watergate," said Kat Bun Heng, Director of HT's Community Translation Organization. And though our had to physically relocated in Siem Reap because of the high water, the team is gearing up to respond to the needs of the villagers in Balang.
Approximately 20% of the local rice crops across 8 villages have been ruined by the flooding. But more worrisome still is that several wells have been contaminated by the flooding, and we are doing our best to help villagers get the support they need.
In 2010, Human Translation (HT) worked with the Ballang community to form a Canal Construction Group, which would be solely responsible for the construction of irrigation canals leading from the Trav Kod Reservoir.
You will recall that HT finished the reconstruction of the Trav Kod Reservoir with the help of Engineers Without Borders nearly two years ago, and the reservoir has proven to be a great success in storing the water needed for irrigating a second crop of rice.
But getting that water to the rice fields still needed the restoration of the irrigation canal system that had been neglected and destroyed during the civil war. To achieve this, the community needed support, leadership, and direction.
The Canal Construction Group elected Mr Chum Chet, a 34-year old farmer who has been living in Ballang his entire life, as their leader. In addition, HT has formed the local Cambodian registered NGO called Community Translation Organization (CTO) to localize the development of this and other projects. CTO's staff is primarily Khmer, under the direction of Bun Heng Kat. Working together, HT/CTO and the Canal Construction Group formed a plan to restore and extend the irrigation canals from the Trav Kod Reservoir to the Balang rice fields.
operations. There is obviously a tremendous spectrum of ideas and solutions that may be called environmentally, socially, or governmentally sustainable. In community development, the adage "teach a man to fish" cerainly goes a long way.
When it comes to our work, we tend to try to think of our role within a very limited range of the word sustainability: When we leave, the benefits of our work will endure. Whether those benefits are owned by the community, the government, or just enterprising individuals that wish to continue our work to their best capacity.
We feel like it should be every NGO and Nonprofit's goal to put itself out of work eventually. Clearly there are a huge number of problems for organizations to help solve, but solutions should always be implemented with the prefix of "when we are gone..." in mind. Otherwise, short term impacts may be thoroughly overshadowed by a long-term breakdown of responsibility.
When we began the program last November, over 100 students enrolled. Each student took a basic placement test to assess their English capacity. We received most tests back blank, as expected. This gave us a template for measuring any progress achieved through the program. We then set up 3 levels of classes with each level taught two times a day three days a week. We have a primary student’s level for children between the ages of 5 and 10 with the child-friendly Let’s Go series of English textbooks and an intermediate level for students between the ages of 10 and 18. This level is taught through the Cambodian English Course series, a textbook written specifically for young people in rural Cambodia. Additionally, we have adult classes taught through the New Headway series, which focuses on English for adults in a modern context.
Last week we finished testing the youngest primary class, bringing our round of grammar testing to a close. Each class showed a marked improvement. In the primary classes over thirty percent of the classes passed with over 85 percent. In the intermediate level the scores were even higher, with 50 percent of students scoring over 85 percent. It was the adult levels that have improved the most however, with 66 percent of the class scoring above 85 percent. These scores are above average for the region. While it may seem that the tests were too easy from these high scores, these were the same tests, with some more difficult sections added, that the students could barely fill in during the placement round of testing.
Plans to repair the small gap at the gates of the Watergate were temporarily postponed in anticipation of a visit from the head of the National Fisheries Administration. HT is planning, in conjunction with the Fisheries Department, to release a variety of fingerling fish into the reservoir. The head of the National Fisheries Administration, H.E. Nao Thourk, came to the reservoir to inspect the project’s progress and to officially announce the plan to local community members and reporters. A reporter from a local Cambodian newspaper, Rasmei Kampuchea Daily, was on hand to report the event and an article appeared this early this month.
Impact assessment has become somewhat of a buzz phrase recently in the world of development work. Historically the primary tool for assessing the value of a humanitarian project was measured through a combination of instinct and narrative - stories told by those people affected and those who experienced first-hand the value of a project. The value shown tends to be immediate, and this method tends to satisfy a very powerful human understanding of what has worked and not worked. Politics, it seems, also tend to function in a very similar way.
Since international aid and development work is something that has only recently been brought to scale, affecting millions of people worldwide, it is about time for all of us to start thinking about the good work we're doing in a new way.
San Francisco, CA, April 26, 2009 – His Holiness the Dalai Lama will be the honored guest at a luncheon at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in San Francisco, California, on Sunday, April 26, 2009. His Holiness will acknowledge and thank the 49 highly compassionate individuals who are the honorees of the Unsung Heroes of Compassion 2009 event.
There is a long list of heroes who made this event a reality. Thank you to each and every person who helped make the night such an incredible success.
View a slideshow here. Photos by Jessica Caisse.
Carolyn Younger recently wrote an article for the Napa Valley Register outlining the completion of our reservoir and our upcoming fundraising event "Transforming Lives". The event will be happening on August 17th and will be supporting our new Education and Clean Water fund.
Thanks to everyone who has helped us to get to this point. I am speaking for several thousand of us in saying that we are tremendously grateful.
We held our second big grassing party on Thursday, June 19th, to try and complete the embankment grassing for the reservoir. We had around 140 villagers participate along with 70 monks from the Wat Trach pagoda to complete another 20% of the embankment, which means we only have another 15% left. The day would not have been possible without the help of volunteer cooks from Prom Kod village, who cooked all of us a delicious meal, and various other villagers who helped set up the tents, collect firewood, wash dishes, donate ox-carts and refill the water supply. Without the support of the community we wouldn’t be able to pull off these events and therefore appreciate the time and effort that everyone contributes to the project. The monks from Wat Trach also deserve applause as their strength and continued support of the project sets a wonderful example for the community of Balangk to follow. Although we did not finish all the grassing, we still view the day as a huge success because as frustrating as it is working with uncooperative villages, it is more than worth the stress when you see other community members pull together to accomplish the goal at hand.
The concrete work for the water gate is complete as of last Friday, May 30th.
A Monsoon Grassing Video Montage from Tobias.
This is a picture taken from last Sunday’s Grassing Kickoff. In order to involve the community on a large scale we decided to put on an event that would allow the villagers to get together for a day of fun and grassing. Along with our partner NGO, Human Resources and Natural Development (HRND), we invited the monks from the local pagoda, Wat Trach, to bless the reservoir and lead the community in the grassing work. It was a frenetic day as 350-400 villagers and monks showed up to help cook, set-up and most importantly, grass the 13, 200 square meter embankment. Although we were only able to grass 50% of the whole embankment, the event was a success as everyone had a great time grassing to the music blaring out of the speakers and slipping on the wet grass after the downpours of the day.
Our focus now is to keep the enthusiasm going among the village chiefs to mobilize their villages in order to finish grassing the rest of the embankment before the monsoon hits. We are depending on the continued participation of the community to complete this part of the reservoir reconstruction project as we are on a critical time schedule. But mobilizing a community of ten villages is a difficult task. It has and will take longer than we thought, but it will be done.
HV20 Test: Children on Embankment.
My organization was founded to translate the needs of this impoverished community into actions - actions that will make an impact for generations. We're finally seeing huge strides towards completion of our reservoir.
Since receiving such tremendous generosity from you over the summer, we've seen many changes:
We can still use your help. We know we are finally feeling the momentum we need to complete our largest project ever attempted - the Trau Kod Reservoir System.
Construction has been going along full speed for the last two months, and if all goes to plan, we'll be seeing an ancient body of water restored to its full, life-sustaining capacity in the next six months.
If you'd like to read regular progress reports, please read the blog of Bryse, from Engineers Without Borders, who is in Cambodia providing us with some wonderful assistance.
We have now, finally, begun construction on our reservoir.
After ensuring the community's need over three years. After organizing an enormous de-mining operation that took many months. After working through a tangled web of bureaucracy on all levels of government - we have finally begun our construction.
We have enough funds for Phase I, so we are starting. Phase II and III will begin after the monsoons, pending financing. 9,000 people still need water, and we will do our best to provide.
For progress on construction, view EWB's website here: http://ewbnycambodia.blogspot.com