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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.

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

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.

Lessons from Practical Action’s grassroots experience are spread through consultancy services, publishing activities, education resources, advocacy and an international technical enquiries service, Practical Answers.[2]



In 1965, economist and philosopher E. F. Schumacher had an article published in The Observer,[3] 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.

Encouraged by the response, Schumacher and a few of his associates, including George McRobie, Julia Porter,[4] 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..[5][6]

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 workEdit

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:[7]

  • Energy access - sustainable access to modern energy services
  • Food and agriculture - sustainable systems of agriculture and natural resource management that provide food security and livelihoods for the poor
  • Urban water and waste - improved access to drinking water, sanitation and waste services for the poor
  • Disaster risk reduction - reduced risk of disasters for marginalized groups and communities

Practical Action has seven regional and country offices.[8]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Charity Commission. Practical Action, registered charity no. 247257.
  2. ^ Practical Answers
  3. ^ How to help them help themselves, The Observer, 29 August 1965
  4. ^ Obituary: Julia Porter, The Independent, 31 August 1992 [1]
  5. ^ "Practical Action history". Retrieved 2015-07-21.
  6. ^ Toye, J (2011) "The world improvement plans of Fritz Schumacher", Camb. J. Econ. 36(2)
  7. ^ "Practical Action organisation". Retrieved 2015-07-21.
  8. ^ "Practical Action offices". Retrieved 2015-07-21.

External linksEdit