The efficacy of technique is contingent on the confidence invested in it by the practitioner. Technique supplied from an external source carries with it much social and psychological baggage. It may run up against traditional modes of behaviour that the recipient is not prepared to easily abandon, or it may simply not be workable in a given local context. Most of all, it may not be trusted.
The absence of training in or use of technical skills in a village promotes distrust of technological services except in the form of consumer products. Modern methods are uninvestigated, even though practical benefits, such as more productive crops from using modern fertilizing methods, would result. This technological handicap is manifest in other ways: land records go unresearched; commercial and agricultural services available in the area are basically unused; soil testing and agricultural waste disposal advice are unsolicited; and nearby veterinary services are largely ignored. Modern human health services are used on a minimal basis: dental care has a low priority and illness is often treated only when curative care is imperative.
Confidence in new methods can only emanate from the willed participation of the practitioners. Effective communication of new ways is not achieved by simply overcoming community-level resistance to externally-supplied methods, but by finding ways to facilitate the generation of appropriate technique from the community itself. The role of community organizations in this process is pivotal because information received from external sources will always be filtered through a community perception. At the same time the community will be less threatened by external knowledge that has arrived through a collective filter.
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a collaboration between UIA and Mankind 2000, started in 1972. It is the result of an ambitious effort to collect and present information on the problems with which humanity is confronted, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies. Problems included are those identified in international periodicals but especially in the documents of some 60,000 international non-profit organizations, profiled in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
The Encyclopedia includes problems which such groups choose to perceive and act upon, whether or not their existence is denied by others claiming greater expertise. Indeed such claims and counter-claims figure in many of the problem descriptions in order to reflect the often paralyzing dynamics of international debate. In the light of the interdependence demonstrated among world problems in every sector, emphasis is placed on the need for approaches which are sufficiently complex to encompass the factions, conflicts and rival worldviews that undermine collective initiative towards a promising future.
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