• Bruce Rich
  • Environmental Forum
  • January-February 2010
  • p. 20

The vision for an alternative path can be found among the very poor in developing nations, in whose name public international finance continues to subsidize giant coal plants. Take India’s Social Work and Research Centre — known as the Barefoot College —founded by Ghandian social activist Bunker Roy in 1972. The Barefoot College has trained hundreds of poor villagers as grassroots solar power installation workers and engineers. They’ve installed photovoltaic units across India in the poorest and most remote areas and have expanded their efforts to villages in eight other countries in Asia, Africa, and South America. It is a bottom-up effort to provide climate-friendly electricity and employment from which centralized international agencies could learn much — in fact help to replicate if they changed their modus operandi....After nearly four decades of witnessing the mixed record of international development lending in India, Bunker Roy wrote in a 2007 New York Times oped that “any goal that is driven from the top by international donors and governments not accountable to the communities and without financial transparency is doomed to fail. That model encourages colossal falsification of figures, the excessive hiring of private consultants and contractors, conflicts of interest and a massive patronage system.” 

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