Appropriate technology at Barefoot College
I came across a post at Greendig recently about Bunker Roy and his work in Rajasthan, India. It provides a good example of ecological economic efficiency; that is, the efficiency with which capital — man-made capital (MMK) and natural capital (NK) — are used to provide life support and life-enhancing services. Far too often, MMK takes precedence over NK in the name of progress when, over the long term, rather than progress, the well-being of a community may deteriorate. Consider the case of the water supply in rural Rajasthan, for example. An increase in the availability of pumps (MMK) to access ground water is all well and good, except to the point where there is no ground water (NK) left to pump up. At Barefoot College, which Roy founded, the guiding philosophy is that solutions to rural problems lie within the community. Thus, the college has overseen the construction of rain water harvesting systems in over 150 schools, providing more than 8.7 million gallons of potable water each year, and it has an innovative solar-electrification programme whereby illiterate women from rural villages throughout India are admitted to the college to learn how to fabricate solar panels. To date, the college has solar-powered over 350 villages in India and many more in Africa, Afghanistan and South America.