How Not To Save The World
October 22, 2010
By Droga5 for Huffington Post
PopTech kicked off Thursday with a recount of the disastrous campaign in the 1970s to bring clean water to Bangladesh. It's an ominous story about how millions of tube wells were dug into shallow layers of ground that had naturally occurring arsenic, which contaminated the water. What resulted was what the World Health Organization later dubbed "the largest mass poisoning of a population in history."
Ned Breslin, from Water For People, echoed this theme through his speech in which he spoke about the kind of quick fix solutions that are thrown at the water crisis in developing nations. Quick fixes like hand pumps for wells that fail and eventually lead to broken water access points. In providing this infrastructure, what we are doing is scaling failure.
There are many lessons that you can extrapolate from these stories, but what hit me the hardest was that sometimes our best intentions to do good can actually cause catastrophic harm exacerbating the original problem.
What do you think?