Giving Compass' Take:

• Resources that are transferred or donated to developing countries need to be accompanied by maintenance instructions or ways to keep them sustainable. Otherwise, those resources will eventually depreciate. 

• How can development actors and organizations collaborate on ways to make resources more sustainable? How can this same thinking transfer into development projects?

• Read about what international development really means. 

Resources are a community or an organization’s most tangible assets, including things such as products, equipment, and people. When you think about the resources that are flooded into poor communities, you’ll see that they will, in due time, break. Products that are donated such as tablets or laptops for schools, and medical equipment for hospitals, break over time. Food and vaccines spoil, while community resources such as roads and rail break down. Virtually every single resource deteriorates.

Interestingly, much of the development industry is still focused on building or providing resources in poor communities across the world with far less focus on maintaining them. Regrettably, this means that even after building millions of toilets and water wells, and spending billions of dollars building schools, the impact isn’t transformative because most of the resources break—or become unsustainable—after a while.

How do we fix broken resources? Or better yet, how do we make resources sustainable?

The fact that resources are vulnerable to depreciation doesn’t mean the development industry should stop providing or using them. It simply means they should be provided in a way that allows them to be fixed when they break. This is where market-creating innovations have tremendous power and potential.

Market-creating innovations transform complicated and expensive products into simple and affordable ones. In doing so they make them available to a larger segment of society who historically were not able to afford them, but would have benefited from their use. The new markets that are created by these innovations are powerful because they not only provide valuable resources to people who historically didn’t have access, but they also provide enough cash—often by way of taxes for governments or profits for organizations—to maintain the resources.

Read the full article about maintaining resources in developing countries by Efosa Ojomo at Christensen Institute.