The complexity of project management in sustainable development NGO

 The complexity of project management in sustainable development NGO

The second month revealed the diversity and complexity of project management in the development sector. First of all, I had my first “quarterlies”, a conference/seminar that takes place four times a year in which interns from EduCARE India’s various centres and/or program affiliates like SWASH Village Org get together and discuss their achievements but also the challenges they encounter in their various, often multifaceted projects.  

Our Team from 7 countries

sanitation and waste management -environment, conservation ngo - india 

During this quarterly event we learned about COMPLEX PROJECT MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUES, and on the kinds of THINKING one adopts in his/her everyday work in development. E.g. we had to determine which thinking style we use, i.e. we had to think about thinking, such as whether we’re an analyst, follower, learner, creator, inventor or talker & leader. I judged myself to be a learner, because one gains so many soft skills as well as knowledge about the development sector while living and working in the communities on ground. Also, one almost inevitably becomes a LEARNER because development work is so multifaceted- It involves building rapport and knowledge exchange with local authorities at the governmental level, regarding my waste management project this meant meeting the district coordinator on sanitation and waste management (Please see blog for June “The challenge but also massive opportunity of inducing sustainability and environmental conservation in rural India”) as well as doing field trips to work-related settings, such as visiting the unsanitary landfill/dumpsite in Dharamshala, a nearby town of our centre in Naddi.  

The unsanitary landfill in the nearby town Dharamshala to which also most waste from Naddi goes. It is my responsibility to have no more waste reach this DUMPSITE.

sanitation and waste management -environment, conservation ngo - india - Malte's visit to waste dump

Development work also involves ONLINE RESEARCH, in my case on the INDIAN CONTEXT, on GOOD PRACTICE SITES and on factors to consider when planning and implementing such a project. Furthermore, the multifaceted nature of development domains such as solid waste management does not stop with the various stakeholders involved. In order for it to be encompassing and sustainable it must involve APPLIED RESEARCH that covers all types of groups or beneficiaries, in my case in the village of Naddi this means including parties as diverse as market food stands, grocery shops, laundry services, restaurants, hairdressers, households and hotels.   

A “Chai” Tea Break after the ‘household’ survey with this local lady

A 1 ½ hour interview with one of the very few female hotel managers in the village

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT thus is crucial and this is where health and education kick in, a crucial desired output of many development projects, including mine. For my project community engagement, e.g. includes holding workshops on sustainable waste practices on the grounds of reduce, reuse, recycle as well as doing a community cleanup with the entire village that also involves an educational component. Furthermore, probably most importantly, it also means collecting data of the entire village on waste behaviours and views as well as on their appraisal of the current waste management in place(or lack of thereof). Hence, attaining LOCAL OWNERSHIP, will likely achieve greater satisfaction among the community and thus also achieve greater sustainability. For my project to be sustainable and to have the most comprehensive and lasting impact I need to consider and incorporate all stakeholders, e.g. through doing surveys with all stakeholders such as the ones listed above. It also implies collaborating with project managers from other development domains of the organization. In my case, this e.g. means collecting soft plastic for the participants of the Young Women’s Association which they use to make cushions and pillows. Through doing this, the women can use waste as a resource and don’t have to spend money on purchasing new cushions but instead reuse existing waste material to make something new. In other words, waste is no longer wasted but given a new purpose. 

Thus, THINKING BIG is crucial. THINKING SYSTEMS and DESIGN is important. THINKING COMPLEX is essential. The more comprehensive, the more planned, the more researched and the more encompassing a development project is, the greater its likelihood of success- It is key to SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT.

Malte Rose

Asst Program Coordinator


SWASH Village Org

a grass-root level NGO initiative

sanitation and waste management 

sanitation and waste management