As each new partnership opportunity has presented itself over the past year, we have been compelled to return to the essence of our name - Enterprise for Vocational Development. The first two words are fairly straightforward and we read in them the same way Merriam-Webster would.
-Enterprise: A project or undertaking that is especially difficult, complicated, or risky.
-Vocational: Undergoing training in a skill or trade
The last word we have had to wrestle with, particularly because we are very aware of the pitfalls of replicating the failures of traditional international ‘development’ models. The oft unstated goal of donor countries providing AID to ‘developing’ nations is to turn their citizens into consumers who will eventually buy products from them. If a country ‘develops’ the idea goes, it will have the means to purchase more cars, phones, computers, and services from more ‘developed’ countries. As we ponder both the state and effects of ‘development’ in Chad, this idea leaves us disconcerted.
The state of ‘development’ in Chad is fairly straightforward. Over 80% of its people rely on subsistence farming and livestock raising for their livelihoods. ENVODEV does NOT consider this ‘backward’ something that should be ‘developed’ into a more advanced economic base. We are NOT interested in promoting a move away from millennial agricultural practices adapted to very specific micro-climates. The result of previous ‘development’ initiatives in the country have often had the negative effect of pushing more and more people away from their land and into cities where cramped conditions and severe energy shortages have contributed to the problems ENVODEV is now attempting to address through its programs, namely poor sanitation and deforestation.
Both our charcoal and composting projects continue to be established keeping these key ideas in mind:
- Positive change will only come about within the cultural framework of the Chadian people.
- We only take on projects relevant within their particular social environments.
- Resources are spent through apprenticeship programs
- Trainings must be relevant to the existing economic context and address local needs.
- Trainees own their business projects and make daily operational decisions about them.
We face many challenges in our development model. Because creating briquettes out of rice straw and encouraging people to compost their human waste does not create the types of value that many donor agencies are looking for, nor modify existing economic structures, our work often falls outside of traditional ‘development’ funding categories. While we continue to operate on a very lean budget, those of you who have invested in this work have contributed to bringing about much needed reform in the way ‘development’ is done in Chad. While much more could be written about the last word in our name, we trust that if you continue browsing through our site it will speak of our model for itself.