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Alvaro Fernández-Baldor, Pau Lillo, Alejandra Boni


Technology, despite being very important, is not the only factor that ensures the success of an intervention. There are many different elements to take into account when planning projects, especially in complex environments such as the least developed areas of the world. However, development aid interventions have generally been focused on supplying a technological goods or services instead of focusing on people, thus missing out on the project’s potential for social trans- formation. This paper analyzes four renewable energy-based electrification projects implemented by the nongovernmental organization Practical Action in the rural area of Cajamarca, Peru. Using the Capabilities Approach, the research examines the effect of the projects on the things people value. It confirms that projects provide different benefits to the communities (reducing air pollution caused by candles and kerosene, improving access to communication through television and radio, pro- viding the possibility of night study under appropriate light, etc.), but also detects an expansion of the capabilities in other areas not considered by the nongovernmental organization such as those related to religion, leisure, or community participation. However, the expansion of capabilities is different for men and women. The study reveals the limitations of interventions designed to supply technology, electrification in this particular case, which do not take into account certain elements that can cause the use of technology to contribute unequally to the expansion of people’s capabilities. The research concludes that technological projects can generate inequalities and some recommendations are presented in order to address these issues when planning interventions.

Year of publication 2015