Tuesday, June 3, 2008


photo credit: Jek in the Box

Today I came across a great site called SensibleUnits.com. I thought it was the best introductory tool for people going into the field for the first time. (they should make a site for that...BoPunits.com??) Finally you'll know how the BoP think, with practical units that work best for them. They could care less about metric, british, or any other system. So you better learn how they think and measure. This is important for communication.

For example, BoP milestones are measured by events. This is important for survey development. The question "How old are you?" quite often gets a response of "I don't know." Instead, you should know to ask..."were you born before or after the 'Great Flood'?"...and " How many years before/after?" you can then guesstimate a person's age.

The BoP measures the worth of something in terms of barter. For example, to the very popular question "how much does a ticket to the U.S cost?" I sometimes say that it is the equivalent of trading 'n#' of cows or goats, and lest they think that I am loaded with cash I quickly add that in the U.S there are many cows, so the price is not that much there but its very much in Kenya (say)! Somehow, they get the point...

You'll also understand why when they say "that village is five minutes away in that direction" or "the bus is coming in five minutes," you end up walking or waiting two or three hours.

My point: Try to find a way to communicate in their language. It will take you far.

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