Step 1: We admit we are powerless over a project-based mentality–that when we considered the changing world, our frameworks and tools as they had come to define us have become obsolete.
“People will disappoint you from time to time. You will also let people down. And as in our personal relationships, we have to re-commit every day to making them work. Relationships within international development are no different.” From my interview with partnershipmatters.org.
“NGOs tend to view CBOs in two ways: with suspicion and mistrust on the one hand, and as instruments for community organising and project implementation on the other.” Excerpt from a paper by Samuel Maruta, Southern Institute of Peace-building and Development, Zimbabwe.
The evaluation report was scathing, but I felt honest. And given the sharing of the preliminary results, it should have hardly come as a surprise…But it did.
Organizational development is a discipline that needs to become more central to the practice of the development sector as a whole, not just a small professional enclave.
Aid recipients “are more concerned about ‘how’ assistance is provided than how much is given.” Initial findings from The Listening Project, a systematic exploration of the insights of people who live in societies that have been on the recipient end of international assistance efforts.
A local sovereign organisation is an authentic expression of the will and voice of its own constituents. While it may accept funding to provide services, it is not a surrogate vehicle for the projects of another agency’s purpose.
Sovereignty is both a quality to be developed and a right to be respected and defended. It is a particularly powerful concept when applied to organisation, suggesting authentic qualities, describing a home-grown resilience, an inside-out identity, the idea of an organisation being the expression of the free will of its own constituents.
Who will revolutionize the development industry? It’s those with a professional, but more importantly, a personal resolve to nurture alternative models of “development” that genuinely build on the dignity, knowledge, skills, culture, and abilities of local people.
Under-resourced and under-recognized local organizations face immense challenges on the ground. Yet we as outsiders most often choose to express frustration or impatience if an organization does not appear to be responding to our expectations.