We always begin by delivering clean water, sanitation and training in health and hygiene. This results in big changes to the villagers’ life styles as sickness becomes less frequent and health and energy levels improve. For women who no longer need to collect water from the stream each day, a great deal of time is freed up.
At this point, we try to introduce microcredit for the women and farm support for the farmers. We provide mosquito nets and National Health Insurance for five years, and we may also give help with education, schools and healthcare. In some villages, we give libraries or computer rooms, in others free school meals for the toddlers.
We hope in this way to provide a window of at least five years, during which the village can pull itself up onto its feet without major unexpected setbacks, and can also use the time to acquire new skills and build up a few savings.
Throughout the process, we keep in close touch with the elected village council, the chief and elders, and any other important local institution. We try to ensure that these work well together and are strong enough to maintain the improvements when we move on. We need to be sure, for example, that they will be able to collect any levy they may need to finance maintenance and repairs.
And finally, as with all our projects, we monitor the village for at least five years, and less frequently thereafter.