Saturday, August 16, 2014

Communication and Collaboration

What are the key principles needed to be adopted by NGOs when working on substantial change and sustainable development in the developing world? The contribution of bright ideas, good will and initiative from individuals are important, but looking at NGOs and their contribution on a larger scale, development needs to centre on skills and knowledge sharing for the progress of their beneficiaries. Two key functionalities in the fight for cooperative working and successful projects are communication and collaboration; both of which do not necessarily come easily to NGOs, but when utilised can be incredibly effective.

This week the International Service team, with the help of other NGOs in the area, including CBR and Fistrad, organised the Sandema Girls Club Opening Ceremony which brought together the local community to support the education of girls in health, education, leadership and responsibility. The aim of the club is to provide a supportive environment outside of school for girls to ask questions, learn key skills and build confidence. The event proved a success, with more than 120 girls signing up to the club and huge support from the local community.

The Club’s success is by and large due to collaborative working and the prioritising of shared goals of the community and local NGOs. The aim was to provide a sustainable club run by local women for local girls and as NGOs it was our role to facilitate rather than over power and lecture. In this respect, Girls Club has been successful thus far with the development of the Women’s Board and Girls Executive, a substantial policy document and session plan, all set up with the respective executives, to promote the independence of the club. Collaboration in this instance saw to empower local people to make substantial change.

One might presume that NGOs naturally work alongside one another, but more often than not, division of funding, prestige, and the ownership of achievement can all segregate and thus slow down development objectives. Arguably competition drives forward our capitalist business objectives in corporate industries, with competition driving better customer experience, choice and product. But NGOs are not designed to propagate customer experience, rather to develop communities, skills and services through combined efforts to better the lives of others. Competition does not sit well at the table of inclusive goals. Rather communication is of core value, to propagate the projects we work on, and the lives they touch, and ultimately to build relationships and skill sharing platforms, so that NGOs can remove bureaucratic obstacles to build sustainable development together, faster.

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