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< prev - next > Social and economic development Social Development learning_from_practice (Printable PDF)
Learning new crop skills in Pithauli, Nepal
and adaptation of ideas and practices.
Achieving some quick wins early should
be encouraged: ‘achievement is important
because it builds confidence and makes the
next steps possible.’18
e. Support financial sustainability
One asset that can significantly boost
a community organization’s capacity is
financing. Whilst many community activities
can be carried out using local resources,
some larger activities, such as construction of
flood defences, wells or buildings, can have
significant associated costs. Lack of resourcing
to carry out such plans can be frustrating
and cause despondency. It can ultimately
lead to community organizations ‘giving up’.
Furthermore, financial mismanagement and
lack of transparency are frequent causes of
organizational conflict and failure.
NGOs will tend to finance activities
prioritized by communities where there is a
fit with their own, or their donors’, objectives
and timeframes. Providing funds to meet
practical needs in this way is important
not only to directly achieve obvious poverty
reduction goals, but also to build capacity
and confidence for action amongst community
organizations. However, when existing funding
ends, or activities are outside an NGO’s remit,
further fundraising is likely to be necessary,
and this requires a specific set of skills.
In northern Darfur, Sudan, Village
Development Committees and Women’s
Development Associations charge a
membership fee which is reinvested
in managing local activities. For larger
project fundraising, Practical Action has
provided support and training to networks
that represent the Village and Women’s
Development Committees to help them submit
proposals to other NGOs and international
agencies. In 2008 the Village Development
Committee Network secured funds for nine
projects – including one funded by the UN
Food and Agriculture Organization for the
sum of US$300,000, for the blacksmith
association to produce agricultural tools for
free distribution. The Network of Women’s
Development Associations reported having
around 11,000 members and 8 funded
projects (including goat restocking, sewing
and food processing training) – ranging from
US$5,000 to US$210,000. Whilst these
two networks have clearly had considerable
success, their capacity to continue unassisted
is still weak. In particular, they face major
challenges in securing core funding for office
premises, electricity and internet connections.
In Southern Africa, Practical Action has
found that there is often a mismatch between
the availability of funds and the ambition of
plans – sometimes funds are overwhelming,
and at other times not enough. We have
developed a process, termed Resource
Envelope Disclosure, which is conducted early
in the community-based planning process (see
Box 3), whereby any support organization,
including the local authority and the
community themselves, reveals resources that
are available over the next five or so years. This
ensures that communities know what resources
are available which they can use to achieve
their desired vision and informs their process
of analysing which organizations to work with.
Building capacity for fundraising and
financial management are therefore important
skills for community organizations. Whilst
achieving financial independence may well
be a significant challenge, for organization
sustainability, it should not be ignored.
f. Encourage strategic links
Interdependence can be a crucial step for
building independence.21 Connecting with
other stakeholders can achieve impact at larger
scales, benefiting the livelihoods of many