Find out how a mistake—warped windows on a brand new school—inspired dZi Foundation to reevaluate its construction timelines. Read dZi’s Listen, Act, Learn. Repeat. story below.
When the dZi Foundation heard the troubling news, its staff knew they had to act. A teacher at a new dZi-built school was the first one to tell them about the windows—it took two people to jam them shut. dZi staff discussed the problem with the community members who helped build the school. They found out that the wood used to construct the windows wasn’t adequately dried before use.
dZi knew the what—warped windows. But Heema, a dZi staff member, also wanted to know the why.
“As we see it, the most important aspect of working with a community is to devote the time and resources necessary to identify these mistakes, and to fix them.” — Heema, dZi Evaluation + Outreach Officer
After more discussion with community members, Heema realized their construction timelines were colliding with the monsoon season. Projects were breaking ground in January—right in the middle of the dry season, which only allowed for five months of good weather before the heavy rains of the monsoon season began. An unintended consequence of this short timeline? Wood often did not have time to properly dry after it was cut to specifications, which led to warped windows and door frames.
dZi now operates by the Nepali calendar, rather than the Gregorian calendar. During the monsoon season, staff stay busy purchasing materials and preparing construction sites. Construction happens later, which allows them to take advantage of eight months of continuous good weather.
Based on past learnings, dZi has developed strong systems for listening to constituents. Staff now use a standard project evaluation form, and they start most of their project evaluation meetings with an anonymous vote. Meeting attendants use colored beads or beans to vote on sensitive project elements, like overall project satisfaction or perceived financial transparency. The final vote tally is a great way for dZi staff to launch a deeper discussion about how to improve future projects.
“Organizations like dZi Foundation are what give me the inspiration and drive to do this work. Their ‘deep development’ model that focuses on long-term, community-oriented intervention is phenomenal.” — Mihika, GlobalGiving Field Evaluator
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