Unintended Consequences

It takes concerted effort, thought, and experience to ensure that support helps, not hurts, its intended beneficiaries.

It was agreed that social impacts related to a new development in a coastal village would be offset with purchase of outboard motors for the village net fishermen. This would allow the fishermen to venture further from shore into richer waters, resulting in larger catches. Increased sales would lead to greater purchasing power, increasing the overall prosperity of the village.

This appeared to be a decision that made economic sense and registered high on the “feel good” scale, but as it played out, when the engines needed maintenance or failed, repairs couldn’t be made because no one understood the mechanics. The fishermen reverted to net fishing.

Interactions within the local system negated the expected positive impact of this effort. Simplicity does not guarantee success.

 Fishing nets