10"x15" 4-color Hand printed, Individually signed & numbered, Short-run Screen Print
Inspired by the book “Mountains Beyond Mountains” by Tracy Kidder
Frame no longer available
Appropriate technology is a term that, when applied to development work in poor countries, means one should use only the simplest technologies to do a job. Technically, the concept is quite useful, encouraging people to be resourceful, save energy, and rethink technologies. However, in practice, it often means “good things for rich people and [bad things] for the poor.” In Mountains Beyond Mountains, Tracy Kidder describes Paul Farmer’s approach:
Farmer got hold of a pamphlet about how to equip labs in third world places published by the World Health Organization. It made modest recommendations. You could make do with only one sink. If it wasn’t easy to arrange for electricity, you could rely on solar power. A homemade solar-powered microscope would serve for most purposes. He threw the booklet away. The first microscope in Cange [Haiti] was a real one, which he stole from Harvard Medical School (p. 90).
From the perspective of Farmer and the poor, a technology is appropriate if it helps make lives better. If wealthy people have access to it, then poor people should, too. There’s a reason doctors don’t use solar-powered microscopes in Western hospitals— because they’re not as good as modern microscopes. So why should poor people in Haiti have to settle for them? Partners in Health challenges the idea that poor people should “make do.” If microscopes are needed in rural Haiti, they will find a way to get them there. Recently, PIH built a state-of-the-art hospital in rural Rwanda— probably not what some would call appropriate technology. But it has already saved lives.