Practical Action

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Practical Action
Practical Action logo
Headquarters The Schumacher Centre for Technology & Development, Bourton-on-Dunsmore

Practical Action (previously known as the Intermediate Technology Development Group, ITDG) is a development charity registered in the United Kingdom[1] which works directly in four regions of the developing world – Latin America, East Africa, Southern Africa and South Asia, with particular concentration on Peru, Kenya, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka and Nepal.

In these countries, Practical Action works with poor communities to develop appropriate technologies in renewable energy, food production, agro-processing, sustainable transport, water, sanitation, small enterprise development, building and shelter, climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction.

Lessons from Practical Action’s grassroots experience are spread through consultancy services, publishing activities, education resources, advocacy and an international technical enquiries service, Practical Answers.[2]


In 1965, economist and philosopher E. F. Schumacher had an article published in The Observer,[3] pointing out the limitations of aid based on the transfer of large-scale technologies to developing countries which did not have the resources to accommodate them. He argued that there should be a shift in emphasis towards intermediate technologies based on the needs and skills possessed by the people of developing countries.

Encouraged by the response, Schumacher and a few of his associates, including George McRobie, Julia Porter,[4] Alfred Latham-Koenig and Professor Mansur Hoda, decided to create an "advisory centre" to promote the use of efficient labour-intensive techniques, and in 1966 the Intermediate Technology Development Group (ITDG) was born.[5]

From its origins as a technical enquiry service, ITDG began to take a greater direct involvement in local projects. Following initial successes in farming, it developed working groups on energy, building materials and rural health, and soon grew to become an international organisation. The group now has seven regional offices, working on over 90 projects around the world, with a head office in the UK.

In July 2005, ITDG changed its working name to Practical Action, and since 2008 this has been its legal name.

Project work[edit]

Practical Action works in partnership with poor people and their communities, building on their own knowledge and skills to come up with innovative, sustainable and practical solutions. The organisation's project work is based around four international programmes:[6]

  • Coping with environmental change and conflict - reducing the vulnerability of poor people affected by natural disasters, conflict and environmental degradation.
  • Making markets work - enabling producers to improve their production, processing and marketing.
  • Improving access to services - helping poor communities gain access to basic services such as clean water, food, housing and electricity.
  • Responding to new technologies - helping poor communities to access effective new technologies.

Practical Action has seven country offices.


  • Practical Action's post-tsunami reconstruction work in Sri Lanka was selected as a finalist for the 2008 World Habitat Awards.[7]
  • Practical Action's work in renewable energy in Peru was awarded the 2008 UNEP Sasakawa prize for making a substantial contribution to the protection and management of the environment.[8]
  • Practical Action Bangladesh's Disappearing Lands project, which works on river erosion in Gaibandha, won the 2007 Ryutaro Hashimoto APFED Award for sustainable practices shown in this project.[9]
  • In 2007 Practical Action in Peru won an Ashden Award for its work using micro hydro schemes to bring electricity to remote villages.[10]
  • In 2004 Practical Action (then ITDG) in Kenya won an Ashden Award for its work using pico hydro schemes to bring electricity to remote communities on Mount Kenya.[11]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]