Indigenous good, Appropriate bad

Self-Reliance in Small Communities examines the choice of technologies with which to help villages achieve self-reliance. The author argues for a revival of indigenous technology through a community-nurtured approach. He conducted action research on the possibility of using "appropriate technology" for earth roofing in two small communities, spaced apart by geography and stages of economic development; Maryborough, Australia and Gorbung in Deurali Village Development Committee, Nepal. He concludes that appropriate technology per se will not work, and forwards what he calls the PARFITS model (Participatory Action Research in the Facilitation of an Indigenous Technological System) as a strategy for community development.

The book is divided into 13 chapters and comes with an extensive bibliography running into 27 pages and 26 appendixed units. The first chapter sets up the rationale for action research: the Nepali villagers' traditional reliance on timber roofing juxtaposed with the dwindling timber resources. Manandhar therefore decides to borrow the indigenous technology of Egypt as appropriate technology for Nepal. The seed of failure for this experiment is sown early—by choosing indigenous mud-dome architecture of a dry and arid Egypt for possible appropriation in a wet and moisturous Nepal. By the author´s own definition of technology appropriation (page 8), the experiments at both Maryborough and Deurali are failures and he bravely comes around to the finding that the "appropriateness of an appropriate technology is place and culture specific" (p. 241).

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Himal Southasian