Workshop 8: Aided and non-aided change

Civic Action27 Jul 2009The Broker

Author: Chris Ochsendorf  Facilitator: Alan Fowler

The case presented by Fulco van Deventer from Cordaid was about the women’s movement in Colombia and the struggle against violence. In the beginning the women groups were not able to organize themselves, but there was a strong desire to do so. Cordaid’s aim was to facilitate organisational development among these groups, helping them to unify in the field of political lobby. Their combined effort can strengthen their political position. In this process Cordaid acts like a partner and a facilitator, but leaves the ownership and responsibilities to the women’s groups. It is acting primarily as facilitator and not as a donor; there is no structural funding in this project. Cordaid lets the network deal with responsibilities instead of giving them organisational goals to achieve. A challenging question that has been raised by the women is whether Cordaid is able to make changes in the Netherlands as well, considering that Dutch citizens consume much of the cocaine that is produced in Colombia. This drew attention to the role that NGOs can play close to home in support of causes far away.

The second case in this workshop showed that media is playing an important role in giving local communities a voice. Bernadette van Dijck is working for RNTC, a organisation that helps local media organisations in strengthening their professional capacity. They organize for example training in journalistic skills and sometimes provides the necessary equipment for broadcasting. A special initiative is the Informotrac programme, which is designed to empower people in rural areas. The trainers travel to the radio stations to strengthen their public service role in the community. Key aspects of the programme are:

  • Empowerment Through Community Radio
  • Providing a platform for dialogue
  • Technology for radio broadcasting isn’t very expensive anymore
  • Low cost media is key, so communities are able to do it on there own

Besides the two cases there was a discussion about Civic Driven Change; in particular, the question was raised: Where do we find the energy that civic driven changes need to work? Suggestions included:

  • Look for the people with passion to work with
  • Look for leaders to get followers in the social network
  • But be careful because it can turn out that we people we find are the ones that tell only what we want to hear.