Volunteers in Technical Assistance (VITA) is a US-based private, nonprofit, international development organization that worked for 42 years helping to empower the poor and fostering self-sufficiency in developing countries, with emphasis on appropriate small-scale technologies for agriculture, food processing, renewable energy, water supply and sanitation, housing and construction, small business development. VITA's worldwide roster of volunteer technical experts responded to thousands of technical inquiries from around the world on development issues and problems each year.

From the Enterprise Works website:

Fighting poverty with profit. For more than 40 years in 100 countries, EnterpriseWorks/VITA (EWV) has worked to combat poverty by helping small producers and other entrepreneurs build sustainable businesses that create jobs and increase productivity, market opportunities and incomes. EWV achieves this by expanding access to appropriate technologies, technical assistance, knowledge and finance.

In 2005 VITA merged with EnterpriseWorks, a Washington (DC) based international non-profit organization that works with small business development programs. In July 2009 EnterpriseWorks/VITA announced a merger with Relief International.[1]

In 2009 Enterprise Works/VITA merged with Relief International, "a humanitarian non-profit agency that provides emergency relief, rehabilitation, development assistance, and program services to vulnerable communities worldwide".

Publications[edit | edit source]

VITA produced approximately 160 publications. These are mostly introductions to various technical fields. These publications were produced by VITA technical advisers on a volunteer basis or by other organizations on behalf of VITA - see the introduction to each document for details. Any copyrights owned by VITA are now owned by Relief International.

Relief International advise (3 May 2011) that:

  • They do not believe VITA publications have ever been published under an Open Access license.
  • They are considering options for how they want to license VITA content.
  • Until this is resolved any VITA content on Appropedia should have the {{VITA}} template added to it, which will display the following standard notice:

See also[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

Discussion[View | Edit]

Email sent to EnterpriseWorks 28 April 2011[edit source]

Dear Mr Feil, Ms Tsiliopolis

I'm a volunteer with Appropedia.org and I've been doing some work on porting publications by VITA from the Appropriate Technology microfiche to our wiki. See https://www.appropedia.org/Category:VITA and https://www.appropedia.org/VITA_document_and_link_list

We have marked the VITA publications as "Open Access" (can be freely reproduced and circulated) as this is how they are shown on the microfiche however we prefer information on our site to be licensed under the CC-BY-SA creative commons license as this permits us (or anyone else) to update and improve the content provided we (or anyone else) shares those changes under the same license and clearly gives credit to the original author.

Will you agree to license your information under this license? This is the same license used by Wikipedia and many other sites so it will mean your content could be ported to any of these sites or printed out (even sold) provided they give credit to you for your contributions and agree to freely share their changes under the same license.


Joe Raftery

Editor Appropedia.org

Reply from VITA 28 April 2011[edit source]

Dear Mr. Rafferty,

Could you please provide me with the permission you received to port the VITA publications? In terms of your follow on request please don’t proceed until we have had a chance to get some legal counsel on this and revert to you.

I look forward to receiving the requested information and thank you in advance for your help,

Vicki Tsiliopoulos

Senior Vice President, Administration & Grants Management Relief International - EnterpriseWorks/VITA 1100 H Street, NW Suite 1200 Washington, DC 20005

(Contact details removed)

www.ri.org; www.schoolsonline.org; www.enterpriseworks.org

Reply sent to Enterprise Works 30 April 2011[edit source]


Thanks for your prompt reply.

I'm afraid it was another volunteer who ported the VITA publications - I'm just trying to tidy up the licensing information.

My initial check shows this content seems to have been developed by VITA on behalf of the Peace Corps and that the permission to copy and distribute came via them. Can you check on that?

These publications had been widely disseminated for some years before we ported it to our wiki - I'll do some checking and see what I can find about the permissions and get back to you.


Joe Raftery

Reply from Enterprise Works 30 April 2011[edit source]

Hi Joe,

VITA did not develop its publications on behalf of the Peace Corps although we worked very closely with the Peace Corps and our Village Technology Handbook was widely disseminated to Peace Corps volunteers. There were a couple of VITA publications that were developed in collaboration with other organizations including CODEL. A good number of publications have been disseminated for years some with our permission and some without so I appreciate you getting back to me with the information on permission provided.

I look forward to hearing back from you and thank you again for your help. Have a good weekend,


Reply to Enterprise Works/Relief International May 3, 2011[edit source]


A note to confirm what we discussed today:

Your points:

1. VITA merged with Enterprise Works in 2005 to form Enterprise Works/VITA. In 2009 Enterprise works/VITA merged with Relief International and Relief International now owns the VITA copyrights
2. Although the VITA documents are widely distributed Relief International does not believe they or their predecessors have ever given permission for this.
3. The authors of some of the VITA publications have advised that their publications are now out of date and it should not be used.
4. VITA does not own the copyright to all of the VITA publications. Some are owned by CODEL and other organizations.
5. Where VITA publications are used Relief International are anxious that they should receive appropriate credit but are wary of taking on any legal liability for any errors in the content.

My response:

Items 1. 2. & 3.: - Appropedia will prepare a standard disclaimer and add it to each VITA document page. This will note:

  • That the copyright belongs to Relief International
  • That the material should not be copied and distributed until licensing terms have been agreed with RI.
  • That the material may be out of date and should not be relied on.

Relief International to advise if there are any other immediate measures which they wish Appropedia to take.

Item 4: - Appropedia will review the introduction to each VITA document on their site and ensure the rights of any other copyright holders noted there are respected.

Item 5: - Appropedia distributes content under a Creative Commons (CC-BY-SA). Like other free culture licenses this contains specific clauses to address your concerns. This license and similar licenses have been used successfully for open source software and for Wikipedia for a number of years. Software licensed under these licenses is used in the basic infrastructure of the internet and the most critical applications and not once have any of the authors been sued for liability. I have put together a page on CC-BY-SA license on Appropedia which may be of some help.

The VITA documentation was prepared by volunteers and donated to VITA to make available as widely as possible. I suggest to you that sharing this content through Appropedia is a way of carrying forward that mission.

Relief International to consider over the next few weeks/months how they want to license this content for use by others.


--Joe Raftery 13:21, 3 May 2011 (PDT)

Comments[edit source]

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