First of all, to be successful the following conditions need to be met:
- The people in the village need to see the benefits of the project. If they don’t believe the project can help they probably will stop using the distillation unit as soon as the people from the project leave.
- The people need to trust us and we need to trust them. If the people in Valaramkunnu have no trust in us, it is going to be difficult make an impact and get anything done. Trust is the base for successful collaboration.
- The communication between Amrita University, the people from Valaramkunnu and us has to be sufficient. For us this project is just for three months and we are going to leave after that. However, Amrita is going to proceed with this project and of course for the people from Valaramkunnu it is going to be a part of their future. The changes to the prototype and ideas regarding the business side of the project need to be communicated between all three parties in order to avoid misunderstandings and to achieve the highest effect possible.
For the project to contribute to development there are a few conditions that need to be present:
- The end product needs to be sold in the right place. Let’s say the lemongrass oil is going to be sold on the local market. If there is already a local farmer that produces and sells lemongrass oil on the local market and due to our project he loses a substantial piece of his market share, our project won’t be a success. If our project takes away the income from another local farmer, our project doesn’t contribute to development, it just moves the problem from Valaramkunnu to another village.
- If the project is a success and it is able to generate income for the villagers, the money earned needs to be spent in the right way. The problem in Valaramkunnu is that a big part of the money earned is spent on alcohol. If the money from the project is going to be used for this, it won’t contribute to development in any way. For the project to succeed, the money needs to be used to help the village. For example to buy food or better living conditions.
- If our project succeeds, it can be an example for the people to start their own enterprises. In general, the people that start an enterprise are looked at as failures, because they aren’t able to get a job somewhere else. If this project shows the people that if you have a good idea, it can be profitable to actually pursue that idea. This may result in villagers starting their own projects and so improve the welfare of the village.
We think these are the conditions needed to make this project a success as well as contributing to development. In conclusion, we think that the most important thing for our part is to think of this project in the bigger picture: We need to look beyond our activity there and beyond those three months. Before going there, we need to consider and understand the context and the difference in culture in order to assure good teamwork with the locals. While in India, we need to not only focus on the activities of our project, but think about how our time there can have lasting effects: Laying a basis for the next groups and building trust and understanding between the villagers of Valaramkunnu and ourselves (representing the Western culture trying to help them).