Before Dick Dugger took his first trip to Haiti, another like-minded organization was connecting entrepreneurs in developing countries with volunteer engineers and other professionals who could help them. Volunteers in Technical Assistance, or VITA for short, started in 1959 and aligned with ECHO’s beliefs that sharing knowledge is key to lasting community development.
Through the years,
a wide range of
and how-to’s, from
a few pages to
of 200 pages and more, featuring clear instructions
and easy-to-follow plans and illustrations.
These useful guides cover topics such as
agriculture and animal husbandry, building
and construction, business, industry and crafts,
communication and transportation, energy,
food processing, health and nutrition, stoves,
ovens and kilns, water supply, natural resources,
The Dick Dugger Living Library collection at ECHO Florida has contained a few physical books from VITA for years. During a meeting of the ECHO Technical Response Unit, Appropriate Technology Manager Elliott Toevs referenced a VITA resource for which he was searching, Understanding Pedal Power, and noted that the organization no longer existed. ICT Specialist Steve Snyder began a research project to see what he might learn about VITA and its resources.
As businesses or organizations change over time, sometimes organizations serving in the international development space have merged with other groups or changed objectives, resulting in the loss of access to books and research that still have value today. At ECHO, we love to revive access to resources that might have value within the ECHOcommunity network.
Steve’s research revealed that VITA had been
merged with other organizations over time and that
many of the historical resources were no longer
readily accessible online. Snyder reached out to the
organization and received a positive response
to the idea of ECHO hosting a repository of
historical VITA documents for the benefit of
community development globally.
In this case, an impressive collection of 137 VITA
documents in 6 languages (English, French,
German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish) have
been republished. This list includes titles like:
Understanding Evaporative Cooling, Candle
Making, Understanding Pedal Power, Solar
Water Heaters, Raising Chickens and Ducks,
Understanding Agroforestry, and many others.
All of the available texts have been loaded into ECHOcommunity and can be found at http://edn. link/vitapub and through the ECHOcommunity Mobile app.
ECHOcommunity’s purpose of promoting
access to knowledge to those we serve often
means that we highlight the valuable work of
other organizations. In some cases, this includes
recovering and repurposing lost, or nearly lost,
works of the past which can help small-scale
farmers thrive today and in the future!