Urgent Evoke

A crash course in changing the world.

In years of international aid endeavors we have found a few things that work and many things that DO NOT WORK when building bridges between communities. The list of 33 key tips includes this important point from Ethan Zuckerman:

"Deliver value; what are the benefits for people using the end product, does it improve a persons life?"

It is easier to come up with an idea, bring it over to another country and set it up without consulting the locals. This fails because there is no community investment -- once the instigator leaves the project it is usually dismantled or falls into disrepair. On the ground we call these "bandaid" solutions because they are equated with putting a bandaid on an amputated limb. Prefabricated ideas brought in by others without support on the ground are inefficient & unsuccessful over the long term even if they look great in media reports.

Full feedback loops and a comprehensive approach is necessary for creating longlasting international partnerships for development:


Most aid workers and NGOs forget to have a good conversation with those they are working to help at the beginning. This initial partnership formation is essential to addressing the real needs of people in crisis. Creating solutions that grow value within communities requires local people to invest in these ideas from the earliest stage, expediting the development process and forging real relationships with people & their ideas.

Remember that almost all of us are goodhearted and want to help -- very few have the skills and resources needed to provide REAL HELP of value. Always ask yourself what value are you seeking to create and how can you do this more efficiently for those you are working with! Most importantly, focus on the WITH: Evoke empowers international partnership relationships in development, not saving the day with your bad-ass superhero self.

Views: 7

Comment by Samuel Lee on March 4, 2010 at 6:54am
This is a great post. As I gain more experience, I feel that having local support is not just a bonus, but a necessity for both efficacy of the project and for long term sustainability. Without including local human capital into any project, you are ensuring that that project will last only as long as your pump money into it. But if that project is valued by the people that it serves, they will fight tool and nail to see it thrive.
Comment by Nick Heyming on March 5, 2010 at 10:15pm
This message is so often lost on developers when they try to bring their big ideas into someone else's home. Its about how it fits into their lives, not how special it makes you feel for coming up with it...
Comment by Brandon Cline on March 23, 2010 at 1:03pm
Agreed - conversing WITH the locals always beats conversing ABOUT the locals. I'm afraid it was the bad-ass superhero self syndrome that doomed the $100 laptop.


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It's impossible to find a good solution to a problem you don't understand. I think that the first place to start when looking for a solution is understanding the problem by listening to the people it impacts the most. The knowledge one gains creates a foundation for a solution to be built on.Listening to the right people also leads to understanding the circ***tances of the problem: what other social, cultural or political elements contribute to this problem? What has already been tried? Who…See More
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