As we’ve travelled across the country, sat down and discussed with multiple folks working on the ground, with folks in/working with government schemes, we realised that very often, problem solving today looks akin to this : a restaurant supplies vendor teams up with a donor working with a neighbourhood good Samaritan, turn up at the home of a local resident selected on some parameters decided between the vendor, donor and offers/convinces the resident to start a restaurant. This person happened to need solutions for their kids’ education, really. At the same time another individual in another village who actually wanted to start a restaurant is unable to find finance or vendors.
Worse, the restaurant doesn’t run too well and is abandoned post the trial run where initial curiosity and some discounts supported by the funding got some traction and, but the ‘entrepreneur’ was never interested in good food or service to start with and had another day job! Obviously, s/he was not too keen on trying a second iteration since it wasn’t his/her goal, and the donor and vendor had already left post their “success” in the initial phase.
Imagine that happening at scale with livelihoods training, solutions for drinking water, and so much else that keeps getting solved.
What if the livelihood option, or commons management need, or other gaps were identified by the village and the ecosystem of solutions providers, donors and Good Samaritans responded to those realized needs? Of course, they could also help with tools to help arrive at the needs through good, honest and fair frameworks that made good/bad trade-offs across social, ecological and economic outcomes apparent and enabled better decision making, while staying away from prescribing and pre-deciding what any place or person needs.
One would iterate through the solution(s), and try multiple things, if the goal was one’s own! In that itself the likelihood of good outcomes in the long run increases dramatically.
Can we move from the current instinct and default of “intervening” which pre-supposes much, to “responding” which is initially a tougher journey, but a lot more effective, efficient and sustainable in the long run? It’ll need us to collaborate on a lot, to deal with uncertainty and complexity and be ready with a large ecosystem of methods, ideas and solutions as people identify specific needs ground up. It’ll stick a lot more, and enable demand led change at scale if/when we start to get it right.
For something as large as the climate problem, we cannot afford small, even if great, pockets of change across the landscape. We need it to go mainstream, be long term and be done with many, many better trade-offs made in the process - biased towards the ecology and biodiversity, and thus long term benefits of a place.