PD Sightings in the News

There are examples of positive deviance (PD) all around us. The term positive deviance is not used in the following examples, but these stories get at the essence of what PD is. Each time we see a story in the news and think "Hey, that's PD!" we will post it here to share with you. Please feel free to submit stories that you think illustrate PD to us through our contact form.

TitleWoman leads sanitation programme in Indian slums
Source: OneWorld South Asia
Date: August 26, 2011
Author: Ajitha Menon

Summary: Dr. Kasturi Bakshi, a local municipal health officer in the township of Kalyani, successfully began the Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) project in the slum of Harijan Para which motivated the sweeper community in the area to increase sanitation and become an Open Defecation Free (ODF) city. The article emphasizes the importance of community ownership in solving intractable problems, stating that, "As Kalyani has just shown, only community participation and community-led initiatives can bring about total sanitation in Indian villages."

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TitlePinellas to Study What's Working With Black Students
Source: St. Petersburg Times
Date: September 3, 2011
Author: Ron Matus

Excerpt: “In a potentially groundbreaking move, the Pinellas school district (FL) is proposing to find out which teachers are having the most success with black students — and trying to replicate their behaviors and strategies. ‘If we know what’s working, then we can help spread that to more teachers,’ said associate superintendent Bill Lawrence.” Read more here. By Ron Matus, St. Petersburg

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TitleGlobal Conversations on Newborn Health in India: Listening to Communities for a Change
Source: Healthy Newborn Network
Date: September 6, 2011
Author: Vishwajeet Kumar

Excerpt: "Some of our most valuable insights for saving newborn lives have come from listening to rural communities in South Asia and Africa. Not surprisingly, programs aimed at increasing the acceptance of simple, life-saving behaviors like early breastfeeding have met with limited success and have frequently been attributed to communities’ reluctance to embrace change. On the contrary and in the same geographies, we have also witnessed communities’ curiosity for new knowledge and willingness to experiment with new ideas and rapidly embrace change. Why does the community respond so differently depending on the ‘intervention’?

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 TitleYouth League Fights AIDS With Soccer
Source: The New York TImes
Date: June 9, 2010

Summary: In the Nkomazi district of Mpumalanga Province, South Africa, medical workers estimate that 65 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 34 in this area carry H.I.V. Sarah Kate Noftsinger is the director of sports and leadership for Triad Trust, a Boston-based charity that seeks to reduce AIDS-related deaths. Noftsinger first came to the area to give a two-week clinic in December 2008 and at that time five local advocates, in their mid-20s, pleaded with Noftsinger to help them start a sustainable league that could combine soccer and H.I.V. awareness and might prevent another generation from being lost. The youth soccer league that has expanded to five villages and 2,500 boys. She believes the league and the umbrella organization, Triad Nkomazi Rush, will survive only if it can be maintained by local leaders. Scheduling, finances, marketing and medical education are administered by a local seven-member executive committee. Her approach is to offer advice but not to take control. 

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TitleHas a cure been found for Dutch Elm Disease?
Source: The Independent
Date: June 8, 2010

Summary: This is a story about a contractor, Paul King, whose job it was to cut down trees ravaged by Dutch Elm Disease in the UK. King notcied two specimens close to his home which remained untouched by the killer fungus, took cuttings from these two disease resitant trees and has since produced 2,000 healthy English Elm saplings from the original pair.

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Title: In Search of Role Models –Vietnam
Source: Disability World Webzine
Date: November/December 2002

Summary: This article is about a Media Campaign project on Integrated Early Child Development (IECD) that was conducted by the Vietnamese Government and supported by UNICEF. The goal of the campaign was to “encourage people to look at and interact with infants and children in a new, magical, holistic way.” Those running the campaign looked for positive deviants - people who did the right thing, in spite of all obstacles. The article includes the story of Vang Thi Ho who was born deaf, but against all odds managed to raise a family and have a successful career.

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Title: Regreening Africa
Source: The Nation.
Date: December 7, 2009

Summary: In the West African nation of Burkina Faso, a farmer, Yacouba Sawadogo, has been able to adapt to new climate conditions, which caused many of his family members and neighbors to give up farming completely. Through innovative practices with resources that were already at his fingertips, such as increasing the size of shallow pits in his field to collect more rainfall, and adding manure to the pits, Sawadogo has succeeded in maintaining a thriving farm despite climate change. Sawadogo also began growing and nurturing trees that sprout naturally in his area, and has found that this step has greatly benefited his crops and income in numerous ways.

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 Title: In Niger, Trees and Crops Turn Back the Desert
Source: The New York Times
Date: 02.11.2007

Summary: In Guidan Bakoye, Niger, a group of poor farmers has been able to to stop the desertification of their land by using simple, cost-effective methods.  

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TitleStudents Give Up Wheels for Their Own Two Feet
Source: The New York Times
Date: 04.13.2009

Summary: In response to an increasing trend in obesity and concern for the environment, over 400 students in Lecco, Italy gave up the traditional school bus to take the Piedibus, or foot bus, to school.

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 TitleRadiologist Adds A Human Touch: Photos
Source: The New York Times
Date: 04.07.2009

Summary: In order to make scans of his patients more personal, Dr. Yehonatan N. Turner, a radiologist in Jerusalem, began imagining each patient as his father, and also attached a photograph of each patient to the file. Turner also studied the behavior of other radiologists that use this practice and found that when a photo of the patient is present, radiologists write longer, more detailed reports and make more recommendations to the patients’ doctors.

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TitleIn Turnabout, Infant Deaths Climb in South
Source: The New York Times
Date: 04.22.2007

Summary: Despite the recent rise infant mortality rates in Mississippi and other neighboring states, Sharkey County, one of the poorest areas in the Delta, has significantly fewer infant mortalities than surrounding counties. The decrease in infant mortality rates is in part the result of a program in which mothers are bused to pre and post natal care appointments and receive home visits from counselors who are also local mothers. The results are dramatic. Sharkey Country has an infant mortality rate of 5 in 1,000 births in sharp contrast to other communities in the Delta suffering from rates of 14 to over 20 per 1,000 births.

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