Social challenges are automatically equating to the rise of philanthropic movements and charity organizations, but require a well-crafted and designed solution that will solve the challenge but still create opportunities to the society. I am a witness and signatory of two charity organizations in Eldoret and the movements haven’t been of much help to me because all I have been engaging in is giving but not receiving. How can we as a society ensure we solve these challenges and at the same time create opportunities and benefits? I am not disputing formation of philanthropic movements and charity organizations but trying to ensure we reduce the rate of aid Kenya is receiving in line with tackling social challenges.
Kibera, one of Kenya’s largest slum is experiencing a lot of challenges from healthcare to education and this can only be tackled if the root cause is dealt with. Many philanthropists and social enterprises are avoiding this stage, of finding out the root cause of the problem and they end up creating more problems. I grew up in a remote rural area and access to basic education was challenging. Schools were locating far away and again we didn’t know the benefits of going to school. If any social movement understood the root causes why we lacked access to basic education they would have solved it. By letting our parents know the importance of education, setting up educational centers around the villages and involving parents in decision making processes, the challenge would be half solved already.
Creating solutions from a human centered design perspective and inculcating empathy into the process is important in finding the root cause of different social challenges. A case study of USAID Kenya, in 2003 toured Busia county in a bid to reduce HIV/AIDS infection rate, reduce stigma among the affected and create awareness that one can still live with the virus by taking antiretroviral drugs. I was seven years old and one of the victims of the catastrophe that had affected close to fifteen percent of Western Kenya in only 6 years. USAID started by selecting HBC’s (Home Based Care volunteers) who were trained on how to handle the victims and carry out community counselling. This approach was the best, using the people to reach to other people. Ten years later when the organization packed up to leave western Kenya, infections had reduced from fifteen percent to eight percent according to the World Health Organization.
Getting to the people, understanding their needs, pains and gains is one big step towards solving challenges that they face. In this case study where USAID researched on what those affected with HIV needed, they found out that they lacked a means of going to the hospitals to collect their drugs. They then donated bicycles to the families of the affected villagers. Even though HCD doesn’t work in all areas, it has proven to be successful in tackling issues that affect the society.
When you set on a journey of helping the society solve the challenges they face then think about instances where your profit meets your purpose.