Q&A: Exit strategies, Solid waste, Interview questions, Translators, Planning, Latrines

Submitted by Aid Workers Network on June 18, 2003 - 5:01pm.

Topics included:

  • Exit strategies
  • Energy production from waste products
  • Common questions asked in interviews
  • How to work with translators?
  • Business case?
  • Seeking pit latrine alternatives
  • Sphere in a day

Can you offer any insights or pointers to useful information/contacts on these topics? Thank you.

Responses to the previous questions are summarised below. Please continue the discussions online at Aid Workers Forum or e-mail exchange@aidworkers.net

New Questions


Sally writes from China. She is looking for examples of good exit strategies, in particular phasing out over a number of years. http://oldforum.aidworkers.net/messages/124/10726.html


Georgi asks for suggestions on producing energy from wood and agricultural waste. http://oldforum.aidworkers.net/messages/141/10730.html


Jason just got his master's in International Development and has a job interview next week. He asks "are there any typical questions asked in an interview for an NGO that are not asked in any other field and/or are there ways and things I should include in my response?" http://oldforum.aidworkers.net/messages/116/10773.html


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Berhane points out the distinction between translators (written word) and interpreters (spoken word). Try to use the same person and establish a rapport. The interpreter needs to have people skills. Turn the need for an interpreter into an opportunity to train a staff member, Claire says. She used student nurses in hospital as interpreters while training them in assessment and patient-communication skills. Barney's simple rule is to look the person in the eye and speak as though there were no interpreter there (but allowing translation time). Among Joshua's tips is to ask questions that have a specific answer. It’s better to ask, How many trucks and how old are they? than, Do you have trucks? That way, you know if your question got lost in translation. He’s found it helps to apologize for not speaking the language. Paul reminds us of the difficult nature of interpreters’ jobs and that they might fatigue quickly. http://oldforum.aidworkers.net/messages/116/50.html


Professionals4Free’s website has a guide on writing a business plan. They help voluntary and community groups looking for free help from professionals. Alex suggests looking for information on budgeting for NGO projects, since that’s a main aim of business planning. A place to start is Mango’s website. Sieneke recommends the Resource Alliance, which helps NGOs gain independence from outside donors. http://oldforum.aidworkers.net/messages/142/10706.html


Everyone seems to agree that an above-ground technique is the solution on a rocky plateau. The suggested options are: composting toilets, but they’re expensive, says Chance; squat-type facilities that flush into 4-stage poly tanks; raised latrines above an empty water tank; and the Vietnamese double-vault latrine, suggested by Woldu. The double-vault latrine is small, relatively cheap, and the composting process is fast. For the coast, Mayor says the simplest solution is for individuals to scoop a hole in the sand. Dmitri cautions that plastic tanks in sand might need masonry support. http://oldforum.aidworkers.net/messages/141/10738.html


The Sphere project aims to improve the quality of assistance provided to people affected by disasters and has formulated guidelines for aid workers that are a set of minimum standards in each of the key life-sustaining sectors: water supply and sanitation, nutrition, food aid, shelter, and health services. The guidelines help aid workers in assessments, problem analysis, program planning, monitoring, and evaluations. Sphere also provides a learning process to improve your effectiveness as an aid worker using the Sphere guidelines. http://oldforum.aidworkers.net/messages/258/10767.html

Aid Workers Exchange 18-JUN-03 ISSN 1478-5137

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Thank you very much

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