Practical Action Digital Repository on Appropriate Technology


Practical Action is an international charity that promotes practical technological solutions to poverty reduction. Set up over 40 years ago in the UK by Dr. Fritz Schumacher, to show that, his then ground breaking environmental economic concepts conveyed through the famous book “Small is Beautiful”. Known as Intermediate Technology Development Group (ITDG) at the inception. Practical Action works in number of countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America demonstrating innovative technology based solutions that communities in poverty can adopt and to work themselves gradually out of poverty.




Practical Answers is an innovative ICT and non ICT based platform designed to facilitate community in poverty who seek solutions to their problems and receive satisfactory options. It directly or indirectly put them in touch with practical solutions that are developed by Practical Action and are available amongst other users, R&D institutions, innovators, producers, markets etc. Attached leaflet gives information about services of Practical Answers. A web based portal, the library, pool of expertise as resource persons across number of sectors of interest & an enquiry management system are key resources of Practical Answers. Ministry of Science and Technology recognizing key strengths of Practical Answers has entered in to partnership to support Vidatha Centres with technical options so that they can become effective rural resource centres. Practical Answers was awarded with the e-swabhimani award for the National Best e-Content in the category of e-Enterprise & Livelihood organized by ICTA in 2010.




Practical Action Digital Repository on Appropriate Technology


Why a digital repository?


Practical Action (Sri Lanka) began almost 25 years ago with a vision of a sustainable world free of poverty and injustice in which technology is used for the benefit of all. Since its inception Practical Action has tested and introduced several appropriate and intermediate technology options and worked with marginalized communities all around Sri Lanka and some parts of India and Pakistan. Over 25 years Practical Action has gathered vast knowledge and experience on the development and appropriate technology interventions in its core subject areas such as renewable energy, agriculture and food processing, disaster management, housing, water and sanitation, small and medium enterprises, waste management etc. Practical Action’s knowledge and experiences have been documented in different formats over the years; the digital repository represents this collection of knowledge and experience on appropriate technology options in one place, unavailable anywhere else in Sri Lanka.


The collection is widely used by the development workers, students, academics and researchers, entrepreneurs. The demand for the collection is impressive with Practical Action receiving many enquires daily. However, prior to the digital repository the majority of this invaluable information was in hard format and people had to physically visit the office to reference it. Recognizing, the importance and the high demand for this information Practical Action decided to expand accessibility of its knowledge base to a wider audience by digitizing it’s knowledge base and organizing it as a digital repository enabling quick, easy, simultaneous and remote access to its deposits from anywhere in Sri Lanka.


Features of the digital repository


  • This is a collection of Practical Action’s (Sri Lanka) digital knowledge resources. Bringing together knowledge products developed over 25 years of working in the field of technology and development.
  • Materials are available on the subject areas of agriculture, food processing, fisheries, renewable energy, transport options, urban development, water and sanitation, waste management, communication, inclusive development etc.
  • Materials in the repository are in multiple formats such as books, handbooks, manuals, information packs, checklists, databases, newsletters, maps and atlases, catalogues, technical reports, research reports, conference papers/proceedings and presentations etc.
  • The repository is specially targeted for development workers, extension workers, students, academics and researchers, entrepreneurs and the community.
  • Most of the materials in the repository are free downloadable and the process of downloading is quite simple and easy.
  • There are several access points and the users can browse the materials by subject, author, title, publisher, ISBN/ISSN, edition, category and keywords
  • Users can send their enquiries online through the “do you have a question?” option
  • All the new arrivals are displayed on the home page.
  • The Unicode Sinhala and Tamil fonts have been used to present the bibliographical data of the respective publications. So the users can search publications using Sinhala and Tamil languages.
  • Practical Action (Sri Lanka) knowledge materials have been licensed under creative commons (CC-BY) License. So our content is open as it is possible to be.

What makes this repository unique?


The majority of repositories in Sri Lanka have been developed for academic purposes. Practical Action’s digital repository encompasses appropriate or intermediate technologies and includes not merely technology but technology for development. Since most of the materials are on Practical Action’s project outcomes, experiences and leanings a compilation of relevant materials on particular subjects are available for use. The key target audiences are development workers, extension workers, students, academics and researchers, entrepreneurs and the community. The digital repository is linked with the Practical Answers service, the technical information service of Practical Action. Users can inquire on the technologies, processers, knowledge materials, etc and request for further information or/and services. All Practical Action’s new publications can be purchased online through the repository. The digital repository makes this knowledge available to anyone with access, who can read, at anytime, whilst making locating the relevant information inside of books far more reliable and much easier.


Future plans


Future plans involve the further development of this repository through encouraging partners and networks to contribute knowledge materials on relevant subject and the promotion of the repository among target audiences across South Asia as the key knowledge hub on appropriate technology in South Asia.