In my last blog post I was reminded of a story he once told me - and it tells us a lot about how development practice can often be short-sighted.
One day the jeeps from Kathmandu came, along with the experts with their funds, looking for something to fund. I don't know who they were - most likely an NGO with funds from their church congregation, off to 'do some good'.
And they heard about the river.
'Aha', they said. 'This is easy. What we need is a bridge.'
So they talked to the village head, tea was drunk and a few weeks later the engineers came. They identified the most feasible spot for the project, and it wasn't long before the village had a nice, shiny bridge.
All well and good, you might think.
Chudamani never got to use the bridge. Nor did most of his friends. The engineers had decided to build the bridge starting from a high-class Brahmin's land, and, as a consequence, those 'lower class' boys weren't allowed to use it - not until much later after much renegotiation.
For sure times are changing, and, anyway, this isn't so much about religion (though that is often what divides us) - it could be a story about democrats and republicans for all it matters.
What does matter is that the NGO in question was focused on the output (see my last post for a rant about that) and didn't explore the stakeholder interests.
Because they allowed themselves to listen to the most powerful stakeholders - and didn't consult with the rest of the community - their efforts came to nothing. A select few benefited, and not the wider community.
(If you want a happy ending, Chudamani has an MBA and lives in the UK, by the way. But that's despite, rather than due to, the bridge.)
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