The power of piggybacking

Article by Zografia Bika: “An unexpected hit of the first Covid lockdown was Cooking with Nonna, in which people from all over the world were taught how to cook traditional Italian dishes from a grandmother’s house in Palombara Sabina on the outskirts of Rome. The project not only provided unexpected economic success to the legion of grandmothers who were then recruited to the project but valuable jobs for those producing and promoting the videos.

It’s an example of what Oxford University’s Paulo Savaget calls piggybacking, when attempts to improve a region build upon what is already there. For those in the aid community this isn’t new. Indeed the positive deviance approach devised by Jerry and Monique Sternin popularised the notion of building on things that are already working locally rather than trying to impose solutions from afar.

In a time when most projects backed by the two tranches of the UK Government’s levelling up fund have been assessed and approved centrally not locally, it surely bears repeating. It’s an approach that was clear in our own research into how residents of deprived communities can be helped back into employment or entrepreneurship.

At the heart of our research, and at the hearts of local communities, were housing associations that were providing not only the housing needs of those communities, but also a range of additional services that were invaluable to residents. In the process, they were enriching the economies of those communities…(More)”.