Global Team for Local Initiatives: Millions of Dollars Wasted Paying People to Learn!

Aug 09, 2011, 11:15 ET from Global Team for Local Initiatives (GTLI)

Common international development practice wastes money and yields poor results

BAINBRIDGE ISLAND, Wash., Aug. 9, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Northwest-based nonprofit Global Team for Local Initiatives (GTLI) is issuing a plea to government agencies and NGOs working in the developing world: stop paying people to learn!

The practice of paying people to attend trainings is common in the developing world. Trainers believe that paying "per diems" (daily fees) to beneficiaries to dig a well or learn new, healthier behaviors, builds attendance and improves outcomes.

But according to Lori Pappas, GTLI founder, the practice of paying per diems achieves exactly the opposite effect. "When people are paid per diems," says Pappas, "they come for the money, not to learn. When the money stops, they revert to traditional behaviors." The millions of dollars spent on these payments is wasted.

Instead of paying people to participate, Pappas says, we must create internal motivation. Beneficiaries must be helped to identify their problems and devise their own solutions. Only that kind of "emotional buy-in" will produce lasting results.

GTLI has piloted this approach with the Hamar tribe in remote, southwest Ethiopia – pastoralists with a traditional practice of open field defecation. Open defecation, which causes widespread disease, is one of the most difficult behaviors to change. Yet within six months, two Hamar communities were digging and using pit latrines and had committed to becoming "100% open defecation free." In fact, they were competing to see which community would achieve that status first!

"Development challenges are too big for us to waste millions of dollars on practices that don't work," says Pappas. "In the interest of truly sustainable change, I issue this appeal: let all of us in development work band together and pledge not to pay beneficiaries to learn. It is the only way we will achieve our common goal."

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Global Team for Local Initiatives (GTLI) helps indigenous people lead healthy lives through projects in water, disease prevention, education, and income generation.

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Lori Pappas

Contact:  Robin Simons

SOURCE Global Team for Local Initiatives (GTLI)