Whether or not it was going to be successful in the long run, what struck me most about the Peruvian Safe Schools project was the focus on community empowerment. I think that too often foreigners come in with advanced technology or a technical solution, but without the depth of understanding of the community issues that is necessary to truly integrate the solution post-immediate project. It is not enough to show how the new device is superior. The familial, social, economic and educational issues must all be considered for a successful solution, not just a good product. A brilliant idea can and will fail spectacularly without motivation and a drive from within the community. But how to encourage this drive? The hands-on and tactile nature of the Peru project seemed to be a very successful means of rooting the inspiration within the community.
In regards to last week’s panel, I was curious about the reaction of the locals in regards to the Struvite project. How did they treat the new fertilizer and the product in general, with the fact that it dealt with human waste? Was it rejected initially, but then accepted due to its effectiveness? The Dhaka team is facing a different but also similar issue of people tasting, or claiming they taste, chlorine in the new water, and rejecting it. How did the Mexican project specifically address this strong initial reaction towards human waste?