Sustainable Development: by Douglas Mack
For something to be sustainable it must be able to work on its own, and not require help from outside its borders. The question is how do people like us, Americans, come into a country like Ghana, create something, leave, and expect it to still be working the next time we come by? It is a hard question that NGO’s (non government organizations) like Proworld, inside and outside governments, and the like, have been asking for a very long time. In my opinion, the biggest problem seems to be that no matter what individual problem is attempted to be addressed a wider range of problems bears down, and destroys sustainability. For example I was talking to one of the Proworld members, who was also native to Ghana, and he was telling me about the nursing school that was built with the intention to build knowledge, careers, and economic revenue in a particular region of Ghana. He said that it is hard for the men to do well and pass their courses in the school. However, the women either pass or fail. He explained that the professors are all male and the other male students have to do the work get their grade, but the female students only pass the class if they say yes to sleep with the professor. How can this school be sustainable when the corruption is so high? How can training more teachers help education if the children are expected to be part of the workforce? What does it matter if new job producing businesses arise if all of the profit goes to other countries? The answer to these questions is not to give up trying, but to combine efforts. Think of it as trying to lift a big blanket with many vacuum hoses. The blanket will not be lifted until the many vacuum hoses work to lift the blanket at the same time.
Proworld is the NGO our class supported during our trip, and with them, among other things, we educated children of various ages about sanitation, diseases, sex, and drugs. This NGO really tries to push sustainable development with the belief that education can spread to others. Although the notion is undoubtedly true, even if what was taught spreads, and the schools begin to educate on the topics described above there are still obstacles preventing the program from being sustainable. For instance, how are the families of these children going to pay for soap and disinfectant when the income is less than two dollars a day? Is it even right for us to impose condom use on a society that sees sex and family size so differently than us? These questions could also be road blocks to sustainability for the Proworld organization. However, in order to make their methods sustainable one must take on tasks that seem daunting if not impossible for one organization, like Proworld, to take over. Therefore, to create sustainability it is likely that we all need to work together to lift the country all at once. I am not saying that there is not intercommunication between organizations at this point, but I do think that more constructive, planned, and sustained communication could do more for sustainable development than any one effort ever could.
What then would be beneficial is an organization that works solely to create more open and expedited communication between the various organizations that have stake within Ghana. In one sense nothing this organization does would directly alter or improve development, but in my opinion could have the largest impact on long-term sustainable development. I imagine this organization would operate like an optional middle man for communication and accumulation of related goals. The communication organization would work to find another organization’s projects, find out aspects of society, government, and/or other factors inhibiting the projects sustainability, and then kindle communication between that organization and others who may be able to silence the leaking problems.
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