Environment, Development and Sustainability

, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 313–327 | Cite as

Accounting for human behavior, local conditions and organizational constraints in humanitarian development models

  • Evan ThomasEmail author
  • Bernard Amadei


The current trend in foreign aid is toward small-scale sustainable development projects in partnership with defined communities. However, these projects are subject to the influences of self-interested human behavior, poorly defined community structures and resources and organizational constraints that can prevent full realization of development models. Under these constraints, attempting participatory community development models to the exclusion of other techniques may not be the most effective way to achieve positive change. Instead, development agencies should consider adopting other proven elements of development in combination with the spirit of community development to achieve a positive impact within the community and organizational structures and ensure accountability for success. A small-scale attempted, sustainable development case study in Rwanda is reviewed, as well as a new concept for larger scale development integrating ‘carbon credits’. Additionally, a development accreditation organization is proposed to ensure additional accountability in this field.


Sustainable development Rwanda Carbon credits EWB-USA Capacity building Case study 



The authors thank our colleagues at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Engineers without Borders-USA and the Manna Energy Foundation for their tireless efforts to improve the lives of people around the world and for their thoughtful reviews of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Engineering for Developing Communities, Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural EngineeringUniversity of Colorado at BoulderBoulderUSA

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