Patty Johnson Interview Part 7: Working in a Developing Country

Readjusting your expectations: the challenges of working in a developing country.

Qasim Virjee
Patty Johnson, Elise Hodson
March 2006
© 2006, Design Exchange. All Rights Reserved.


Readjusting your expectations; the challenges of working in a developing country "One of the things we’ve really had to deal with is working around quality for the markets we’re going into. The target markets that we’re going into expect not only a material quality and a construction quality, but also a design quotient. This is something that has actually taken quite a bit of time and has involved quite a lot of discussion back and forth. The second biggest problem, I think, is infrastructure in developing countries – quite frankly there is no infrastructure in developing countries. I think you really have to readjust your expectations of how things are going to roll out. You can’t be working in this environment and expect that you’re going to call your local lumberyard when you run out materials and there’s going to be a delivery - because there’s just not. That infrastructure does not exist. Photography, communications does not exist, power - it goes on and off all day long. some of the communities I’m working with live in very, very remote areas so they live in the interior of Guyana in the middle of the rainforest or they live in the middle of the Kalahari desert in Botswana and – despite the IBM ads – these people don’t have computers, they don’t even have phones. So there’s a lot of issues you have to be very flexible about and you have to figure out how you’re going to work within that. Some of the people I work with don’t speak English, so there’s a different set of obstacles."

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