Debating Safe Water in Westminster Hall

Photo of Mark LancasterMark Lancaster (MP for North East Milton Keynes, Conservative) | Hansard source

“Last week, I was in Guatemala—as an aside, I must tell the Minister
that many non-governmental organisations there fear that DFID is
turning its back on that country—where I was fascinated by a water
project there. A local community managed to raise enough money to bring
a 35 km pipeline into its village. Unfortunately, however, it was
forced to bring the water through surrounding communities, many of whom
were jealous that the pipeline was going through their communities but
not serving them. The project took three years to be established
because communities along the pipeline were simply smashing the pipe
out of jealousy because they were angry that they had no access to the
water it carried, while other communities did.”

This reminds me of a story a friend told me who worked for many years in a development agency in Guatemala. He explained how many saw development in terms of capital investment buying things (like water pipes). While in reality, development that did not take into consideration how the community would manage the new thing (water pipes for instance) was simply bad development practice.

The tragedy was, and continues to be, that bad development practice on the part of development workers is then often held up and used against local communities as evidence that they deserve the under development that they have. The fault, more often than not, lies with the project and not the community.

Categories: Mentions of Guate in UK Parliament

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