Practical Action

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Practical Action
Practical Action logo
HeadquartersThe Robbins Building, Albert Street, Rugby, Warwickshire
Region served

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, Bolivia, Kenya, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and Nepal.

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


In 1965, economist and philosopher E. F. Schumacher had an article published in The Observer,[2] 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.

Schumacher and a few of his associates, including George McRobie, Julia Porter,[3] 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.[4] [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 100 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 goals:[6]

  • Energy that transforms - sustainable access to modern energy services by bringing rural communities, displaced people, energy providers and decision makers together to find sustainable, clean energy solutions.
  • Farming that works - promoting the use of agroecology, providing the potential to transform the lives of millions of farming families struggling to adapt to a changing climate
  • Urban water and waste - making sure cities are fit for people. They're helping to make cities in developing countries cleaner, healthier and fairer places to live and work
  • Disaster risk reduction - having resilience that protects by helping to make resilience a way of life, by adapting to and preparing for a changing climate.

Practical Action has seven regional and country offices.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Practical Action, registered charity no. 247257". Charity Commission for England and Wales.
  2. ^ How to help them help themselves, The Observer, 29 August 1965
  3. ^ Obituary: Julia Porter, The Independent, 31 August 1992 [1]
  4. ^ "Practical Action history". Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  5. ^ Toye, J (2011) "The world improvement plans of Fritz Schumacher", Camb. J. Econ. 36(2)[dead link]
  6. ^ "Practical Action organisation". Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  7. ^ "Practical Action offices". Retrieved 21 July 2015.

External links[edit]