A picture says more than...what development in Nepal looks like

I love my facebook newsfeed. I love the fact that it offers me fascinating anthropological encounters of the visual kind or, in short, with moments of clarity that are difficult to express with words alone.
Last year I had a great
'what the UN looks like' moment and this week it's a picture from Gulariya, a few miles away from Nepalganj one of the hubs in central Nepal.

The picture was taken at a workshop on 'Enhancing Access to Aid Information in Rural Nepal' organised by the Alliance for Aid Monitor Nepal, an organisation that works on aid transparency and foreign aid debates in Nepal. There are quite a few things about this picture that make me hopeful: The equal number of women and men participating in the workshop and one of the women standing up during the dicussion to make a contribution. The fact that aid transparency and access to aid information is discussed in rural Nepal. The use of technology and the power of 'the laptop' in facilitating change without being a barrier to discussions or intimidating participants.
But the picture also highlights some of the challenges development faces in Nepal: It's great to have a laptop and projector - but the building, the physical infrastructure, still needs improvement. One of the reasons why most of the participants are wearing their coats is that it's probably freezing cold inside the room. Rural life is still tough and development is still behind Kathmandu levels. And there is also the question of the limits of technology. The laptop and projector seem a bit out of place in this setting. A few months ago I wrote about
why having a laptop is not enough in the context of aid transparency and that's probably true in this context, too.
But in the end, the picture leaves me more hopeful than sceptical and once again I'm glad to have connections on facebook to so many friends who do great things around the world!


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