I just heard a fun story on NPR. It was accidentally so contrary to their usual approach to things. It was an interview of this NGO guy who has spent like 20 years in developing world digging wells and latrines. His current endeavor is to change the way these organizations try to help people – based on his own mistakes.
They tried like hell to frame the conversation in a – we all need to buy compost toilets – type of thing, but the main message that slipped out was a pro-capitalist one.
Basically, what water organizations have been doing is sweeping in, building some kind of well, assembling a little local village committee to control the well, and training several locals villagers to repair and operate it. You know – the ideal social model Liberals so badly want to believe in… Or in the case of one small village, they just put one lady in charge who was then ostracized when the equipment failed in a way she couldn’t fix. Gee… And I get anxious when my web servers are down…
The trouble with this model is the obvious one to any idiot who has spent time outside of a suburban home or university. The people trained to maintain the well die, move away, or just don’t do it, or don’t know how to do the tough stuff. Or, something happens, like a flood, and that’s that.
However, a model sprang up from villages that just wanted to pay someone to maintain their well. Organically, some of the guys trained to care for local wells started traveling around, maintaining wells for a fee. They do a good job because they know what they’re doing, can get the parts, and all that horse shit. So one day, this one area gets flooded. All their water points are destroyed. What happens?
The nasty capitalist traveling plumbers swoop in and get to work – fix like 100 water points in a few days, the only ones left broken are still under water. People are trying to gather up their lives, can’t get to their money, all their shit has washed away – but hell – they got clean water to drink. The bill’s in the mail.