"But will this be sustainable?"

This is a question I find it harder and harder to tolerate it in discussions about international development. (Luckily, due to my nature and to this blog, I rarely have to bite my tongue.)

I share this though because we as aid workers and funders need to challenge this notion of the necessity of the "sustainability" of activities within aid projects. Basic services to people must be sustainable. Training workshops must not.

I do not expect the fire house or the library down the street from me in Washington D.C. to be sustainable. In fact, I expect these public goods to be funded in perpetuity.

But by whom? That is the important question. I vote to make sure these services stay in tact in my own community.

Therefore, donors must be more careful not to employ a double standard in their expectations, especially of local civil society organizations. Let's talk about sustainability, yes, but let's also make sure it's not just an empty question.

For a great read on what genuine sustainability of water and sanitation services in the developing world should mean, I recommend @NedBreslin of Water for People's paper "Rethinking Hydro-Philanthropy: Smart Money for Transformative Impact."


This post originally appeared at: http://www.how-matters.org/2012/04/18/sustainability-some-clarity-p...


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Tags: NGOs, People, Water, aid, development, for, international, sustainability


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Comment by Ifeoma Esther Iroanya on April 20, 2012 at 11:56am

From the word ‘Sustain’ which is the root word of sustainability, meaning ‘carry on’, and keep up, maintain and continue, from this, one is able to research on the word ‘Sustainability’. 


Basically, ‘sustainability’ deals with what can keep ‘human’ going.  Those thing an average man cannot do without that is necessary items for survival especially the down trodden. 


Those amenities that an average person needs for survival both literate and non-literate persons needs for example pipe born water, electricity. That is ‘Human Necessities’.


In life for example, every human being needs certain amenities to survive with, and without these items life will be miserable, example, clean water, electricity, good air, good transport system, e.t.c. when these needs are meet human life can be sustained.


Thank you.



Ifeoma Esther Iroanya


Comment by Vaughn John on April 19, 2012 at 3:30am

Fully agree Jennifer.

The double standards become particularly cruel when the underlying causes for a "lack of sustainability" are not fully interrogated. Such interrogation should include long histories of exploitative colonialism which have manufactured modern "un-sustainability".  

Comment by Roselyn Mungai on April 18, 2012 at 10:11am

For me sustainability must be beneficiary defined.  What you and I consider to be " sustainable" might not be  for the rights holders. This therefore calls for sustained ( that word again) engagement of beneficiaries at ALL stages in the project cycle.  development workers do tend to engage beneficiaries more at the evaluation/ peer review level.  Not good enough!  -Roselyn-www.act.or.ke

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