Friday, 1 February 2008

No substitute for knowledge!

I’m an engineer and, despite this apparent ‘handicap’, I do know you can’t do a successful sanitation project if you don’t take into account the so-called ‘software’ aspects of sanitation (basically engaging with the intended beneficiaries), and I also know that some people think this is ‘so’ important that they don’t like to talk about ‘sanitation technologies’ but rather ‘sanitation systems’ or ‘sanitation arrangements’ − but (and it’s a big BUT) my viewpoint, as an engineer (and a civil engineer to boot), is that, if you get the technology wrong, then all your ‘software’ won’t count for much at all at the end of the day: you have to recommend sanitation technologies (‘hardware’) that people want, can afford and are able to maintain. It ain’t rocket science! And, as most people, especially those that pontificate a lot, don’t know what sanitation ‘technologies’ are out there, how do they presume that they can give ‘good’ advice? Ignorance is bliss, of course − but actually that’s not good enough in and for IYS2008. There’s no substitute for knowledge! And the real IYS2008 challenge is how to get this knowledge to those that really matter, and this includes those at the ‘coalface’ − local engineers and planners. How on earth are we going to achieve this? I don’t see anything remotely convincing on the websites of “globally important” organizations − so when are they going to wake up? That’s a really important question for IYS2008.