Our ambition and strategy

Who we are

Practical Action is an amazing, unconventional organisation. We put ingenious ideas to work, so people in poverty can change their world.

We do things differently, so answers that start small can grow big. For over 50 years we’ve worked across the world, bringing people together in bold collaborations, combining knowledge and innovation to shape a world that works better for everyone.

We’re problem solvers, creating the conditions for lasting change. Working hand in hand with individuals, local communities and partners to tackle the root causes of poverty.

Sharing the best thinking. Putting alternative perspectives and practical resources into the hands of those who need them through independent publishing, grass roots knowledge and educational services.

Providing expertise to the change-makers. Working with partners, businesses and authorities to deliver commercial consulting and evidenced advice with a ground-up perspective, for long-term success.

It adds up to work that works, knowledge that inspires and expertise for impact. In every case we put people and planet at the heart of what we do. We believe in the power of small to change the big picture. And together we can take practical action to build futures free from poverty.

The many parts of Practical Action represent a diverse portfolio. We take a long-term change approach to our work and there are three units working hand in hand to deliver that change. These are:

  • Practical Action Programmes provide the county and region based delivery in our priority areas,. which include energy access, disaster risk reduction and flood resilience, food security and urban water, sanitation, hygiene and waste.

  • Practical Action Consulting is our technical, research, knowledge and communication arm. It offers a range of specialist services, adding rigour and know-how to our programme work. It also provides expertise to a global development and private sector client list.

  • Practical Action Publishing commissions new articles and titles in emerging areas of practice and research.

Our ambition

By 2030, our ambition is to have transformed the way knowledge and innovation is used to improve the lives of people living in, or vulnerable, to poverty. This bold ambition builds on 50 years’ experience of bringing communities and experts together to find practical, lasting solutions to the challenges they face. Our solutions help people lift themselves out of poverty while safeguarding the environment. We have a wealth of experience, knowledge and expertise, which puts us in a unique position to inspire change.

Our strategy

We focus on where there is greatest need and where we can make the biggest difference in the context of climate change and climate technology developments. These are the areas of energy access, food and agriculture, urban water and waste and disaster risk reduction. Critical to our impact is our work to empower women. By 2020 we will work directly with 7.5 million people across Asia, Latin America and Africa to find and demonstrate ingenious solutions that can improve their lives.

As well as the people we’ll work with directly through our projects, many more will benefit from the indirect impact of our work. This is the value of our holistic approach. The people we collaborate with directly become our ambassadors and are able to increase our impact. Then, through our policy, consulting, independent publishing, grass roots knowledge services and education resources, we extend our reach even further.

  • We’ll support 2.5 million people in accessing energy. A key way we’ll achieve this is by implementing off-grid renewable energy to provide electricity to remote rural communities and refugee camps.

  • We’ll help 1.3 million people to get clean water, toilets and waste disposal. One way we’ll do this is by putting scalable models for waste disposal in place in slum communities.

  • We’ll make 1.2 million people more resilient to disasters and protect them against the long-term effects. One of our interventions is to implement early warning systems and climate forecasting.

  • We’ll work with 2.5 million people on sustainable agriculture methods to help them protect their own future. One way we’ll do this is by enabling viable agriculture businesses to improve people’s food security, nutrition and income.

While our work with people on the ground will always be at the heart of what we do, we seek change at national and global levels. We believe that no organisation alone can bring about the changes needed to benefit everyone. Our success is built on the strength of our relationships at every level – with communities and colleagues, as well as policy makers, NGOs, donors and private sector companies. Collaboration, partnership and sharing on many fronts are integral parts of our heritage.