Tuesday, August 7, 2007
Only Part of the Story
Looking back on the 5 or so weeks I spent in Peru interviewing, observing how microfinance works, entering and analyzing data, I realize how much of an impact each person has on those surrounding them. Although I cannot quantify the value of this impact with numbers, it can be seen through observing how others feed of the energy (positive or negative) of one another. The immense power of peer influence presents an interesting opportunity for social change. However, with the multi-dimensional issues development workers (such as ourselves) are facing, peer pressure is not the only answer. The infrastructure of the country is also in need of stabilization, so that the peer influence can be directed in a positive direction.
After doing the Client Assessment report, I have realized how beneficial quantitative numbers can be in presenting a general overview of the clients. However, when analyzing the data, there
was some information that numbers could simply not provide us with. For example, although we asked a question intending to find out more about the empowerment of each client, the numbers could only tell half the story. We questioned who played the principal role in making household decisions between the client, their spouse, or both. Although we were able to receive information, we were not able to put it in the context of each individual relationship and why they did or did not play a certain role. In hoping to empower women, the lack of quantitative numbers which clearly explain and demonstrate change presents the opportunity to further examine the issue.
Each development issue presents opportunity for examination from a million different perspectives. Although for some quantitative numbers can present the information needed, other more intricate issues require other approaches. Numbers may be the first step to discovering the best solutions, but they certainly are not the last.
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