rolling power outages? roll a ball:

As we continue to look at examples of both ‘successful’ aid initiatives undertaken in both the private and public realm (businesses vs. governments), we touched on a provocative concept this week. Our conversation about “aid failures” was a dialogue about a new paradigm in which development professionals- and anyone for that matter- can view aid projects in terms of their efficacy and effectiveness. An example of an aid project that has been a source of mega Internet chatter in the past year, which I only found about this past summer, has been the SOCCKET Ball. Originally conceived as a method to deliver a more environmentally ‘sustainable’ light source to communities in developing countries, the Soccket Ball generates enough wattage in 30 minutes of soccer playtime to power a small LED light for roughly 3 hours. According to the developers, Jessica O. Matthews and Julia Silverman, they view their project as a social entrepreneurial way to infuse some ‘fun’ into the process of delivering much needed light during night time hours. Criticism from their projects has arisen from multiple angles, including an interesting blog post from development blogger Aaron Ausland, who rights an interesting article here. However, one of the founders, Julia Silverman rebuts in a letter to Ausland here. So what do people think? Is this a donor-driven approach to aid? Should we instead be directing human capital and energy towards more infrastructural projects that could deliver light in the forms of a power grid? Is the fact that this is a revenue generating enterprise problematic? And lastly, is there an inherently ‘good’ form of aid that creates a mutually exclusive barrier to entry?

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About beaubraddock

Beau is currently serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA Fellow with the Tulane University Center for Public Service in New Orleans, Louisiana. He graduated in May of 2014 from Newcomb-Tulane College with a BA in International Relations and International Development, and previously worked in Haiti and India. Beau loves to draw, paint, back-pack, fly-fish, pretend he is good at photography, and travel. An adamant lover of indie films and all things edible, Beau once escaped a falling burning tree in a forest, even though no one else was there to hear it. View all posts by beaubraddock

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