The Three “L’s”

 by Jonathan Ahlschwede, Horn of Africa Partner Coordinator

Humanitarian development not about projects, it’s about people. At GHNI we run a rural village development program called Transformational Community Development (TCD). About three quarters of the program is coaching, the other quarter is demonstrating simple projects and ideas that people in a village can take and run with and teach to their neighbors.

The key to any project is that a village must be able to repeat it themselves. If the project or idea can’t realistically be repeated, it does not have the potential to reach beyond its direct sphere of influence and its impact is limited. Worse yet, dependency has been created.

So, let’s assume that there is already local ownership of a project (the community understands it, sees the benefit, and wants to implement it…that’s a whole other critical topic). We start by using the Three L’s as a filter to run all our project ideas through.

  • Low Cost
  • Low Tech
  • Locally Available

If any of these do not apply, then the purpose of the project is not sustainable because they will be dependent on outside resources to repeat the project (ie: other people’s money, logistics).

Development is empowering people to use their strengths to address their weaknesses and build dignity while working toward a healthy and sustainable lifestyle.

Here are some project ideas that we’re looking at in Kenya and Ethiopia and deciding if they fit the Three L’s:

  • Wind Powered Water Wells
  • Household Garden Greenhouses
  • Hand-Powered Water Well Drilling systems
  • Biosand Water Filters

Right now our TCD worker, Hassan, is working hard to develop a demonstration greenhouse as an example for the people of Ola Nagele, Kenya. It’s common for villages that don’t have large amounts of land to assume that they can’t be successful farmers. This greenhouse concept is designed to inspire people to start small and explore the possibilities of home gardening!