Friday, 13 February 2009

Wiki, wiki, wiki, meet David Weekly..

Wiki is a Hawaian word meaning quick ... Well for those who are really quick, you might still run very wiki wiki wiki, to be able to meet David weekly. This afternoon a public meeting discussed the use of wiki's in development organisations at the ICCO office in Utrecht from two o'clock onwards.  

This public meeting closed the ComPart South workshop. Some closing words on the workshop by Maarten Boers were the following 'my expectations have been exceeded in the sense that I feel that we have things in hand with which we can convince others involved. Your intense work and commitment gives me much confidence for the coming years.'

David Weekly in the blip below, explains his interest to listen to experiences of wiki users from Nepal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Chile and Costa Rica during his participation in the ComPart support workshop in the Netherlands. He also explains how PBwiki continues to try to make wikis easier to use and how valuable it has been to meet some major daily users of the PBwiki platform.

David Weekly on the ComPart South workshop

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Who will blip the blip and blog the blog?

We went to ICCO this morning on a very important mission: explain to ICCO staff what the ComPart approach in the South was and how it could help them achieve their objectives communicating with partners more effectively. In other words, we had to be prepared to do a lot of convincing.

The room was nicely arranged; coffee, tea and cookies were available to warm up and be comfortable. Stephanie from Euforic was very smart and brought some stroopwaffel (special Dutch treat) to break up the ice, which worked quite well. But still, I saw our audience a bit skeptical, somehow doubtful perhaps, without knowing what to expect from the session.

We blipped a few attendees to get their first impressions before the presentation actually started. So, we were able to capture some of their expectations or, rather, some of their hesitations about what they were going to see in the morning.

The ComPart support team had worked until quite late the previous evening to have everything prepared for this great moment! Discussions, printing and paper cutting, blipping, blogging were going on, combined with a bit of laughing… It made the time go by quite quickly, but very entertaining.

The presentation consisted on explaining the ComPart approach and how it had evolved since it first began its implementation. Real experiences were drawn from the work being conducted by enabling organizations in Southern Africa, Latin American and Southern Asia regions. The stories highlighted good practices and lessons learned from these experiences and gave our audience a flavor of what it was like working with the ComPart approach and how this system could establish a social network of partners across the globe.

As the presentation went on, I could see excitement in their eyes growing when watching clips of a video that documented the activities of a conference that took place in Burkina Faso last year. The use of ComPart tools allowed organizers and participants to express their thoughts and reactions about the discussions that were happening during the event, record and register important analyses and conclusions and show -whoever wasn´t able to attend- a taste of what was going on. They used short videos, blogs with questions and comments that furthered discussions, not to mention the wiki space that was created to help plan and coordinate the event more effectively and facilitate the work of the organizers.

Once the presentation finished, I was curious to see if the perception people had in the morning had changed or had remained the same. For better or for worse, I wanted to know if the ComPart approach in the South had achieved its main goal: convincing ICCO staff that this approach can actually benefit and complement their work and engage them in communicating and collaborating across borders.

What did our audience say?...

So, after these impressions, my next natural question was: did we manage to convince them to blog the blog and blip the blip? What is your take?

by Rosamelia Andrade, RIMISP

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Tips to grow your garden from the ComPart South workshop

“Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?”

No disrespect to Mary Queen of Scots or her English counterpart (as the historical explanations for the popular nursery rhyme goes), but if you really want your web 2.0 garden to grow, according to participants at the ComPart South workshop currently underway in Utrecht, here are two tips to help you do this:

Tip 1: Work from where the garden is; and not where you think it should be (consider the context, particular concerns and respond to these. The appropriateness of the tools is important) . 

A lesson from Compart South partners relates to the different contexts in which organisations operate – limited connectivity, varying skills and resource levels, different interests and needs etc. One thing though that we shared about our experiences is that often organisations buy into new tools and approaches when they see the relevance for their local context. So, rather than introducing new tools in isolation or emphasising tools that have little relevance or for practical reasons can't be adopted, it is useful to start from what organisations express as a need, ‘what can we help you do better?’

This gardening tip is also known as: Why you shouldn’t try to grow a water lily in the desert.

During our walk this morning, Margarita Salas, from Sula Batsu in Costa Rica shared her experiences working with poor connectivity:

Christophe Hien, from Burkina Faso also shared his work introducing web2.0 with teachers in West Africa.

Tip 2: Encourage cross pollination (sharing what you are doing and reshaping existing resources helps build rather than replicate and can lead to innovation and creative problem solving). 

Another lesson shared today was that while we may imagine that the challenges we experience are unique to our organisations or programmes, when we meet with others, we see many commonalities. We also share solutions – building on what others have done and in that way, deepen our knowledge and find innovative ways to solve problems. Using wiki’s and some of the other ComPart tools are useful in this process.

This gardening tip is also known as: why birds and bees that have the most fun, and help in creating new species of exotic flowers, are those who stray out of their regular gardens.

“Mary Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?
With silver bells, and cockle shells ... and wiki’s, blogs and photos
(not so) neatly all in a row”

Jan Moolman
SANGONeT, South Africa

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

The constant gardener, ComPart gardener?

Today, Tuesday February 10, 2009, participants in the ComPart 'south' workshop focussed on deepening their understanding of ComPart thinking. Various ComPart tools, prospective web2.0 tools and ComPart gardening were introduced, shared and discussed throughout the day.

The day started with a nature walk. Participants explored some trails in the woods and paused at various stops to reflect on their feelings and expectations required to grow a blooming ComPart garden.

This was followed by a marathon session, facilitated by Chris Addison, on various flowers in the ComPart garden by Pier Andrea Pirani and Maarten Boers. They gave a brief overview about the various ComPart flowers - the toolbar, wikis, blogs, igoogle and delicious. Later, participants divided into various teams to integrate, discuss and develop a real scenario from their day to day experiences, where ComPart tools could effectively fulfil the needs of ICCO colleagues and partners.

SangoNet's Janine Moolman reflects on the day:

There are so many Web2.0 that could be integrated into ComPart. We all contributed ideas for new additions to the garden, so many that we were almost dazzled by the various possibilities.

Chris Addison, one of Compart's original gardeners, sums up his day:

Yvette Petit reflects on Euforic's use of web 2.0 tools within the team.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Some first steps at the ComPart South Workshop - 9 February 2009

Today, Monday 9 February 2009, participants from the ComPart south workshop took some initial steps in sharing knowledge and learning. Expectations were shared, a snapshot of latest developments in the ICCO alliance and the current status of ComPart were presented by Maarten Boers. Some latest developments on 'the wiki garden', which shows the 53 wiki's and their content were presented. Gerrit Visser from ICCO presented the latest developments in synthesising knowledge and information structuring.

Various sessions were led by "Southern participants" who shared their experiences with ComPart. Rosemalia Andrade from RIMISP explained how they developed an internal learning and knowledge sharing platform to practice what it preaches. Second, she explained how to stimulate the use of tools for partner organisations. She explained that responsibility needed to be shared, that we should just get started and that everything implemented should be simple.

Rosemalia Andrade reflects on the day.

Hempal Shrestha from SAP International reflected on his experiences with ComPart in Nepal. Yorsaon Christophe Hien showed the blip they used to reflect on an education workshop held in Burkina Faso in late 2008.

Finally, participants discussed in three groups (1, 2 and 3) required improvements in program development in general and how ComPart could meet those needs. You are invited to leave a comment on the notes on this blog.

Reflections by Bengaly Oudou on the day in French

Reflections by Hempal in the day

Thursday, 5 February 2009

ComPart South 2009 workshop

In 2007, ICCO started a project (with support from Euforic) working with Knowledge and Learning Networks. The project aims to contribute to ICCO Alliance capacity building, learning networks, and knowledge.

The main focus of component 1 is to support the information, knowledge and communication capacities of partner organisations of the ICCO Alliance in the ‘south.’ The proposal states that this component is developed with a group of partner organizations and allies, in the South, that will share knowledge and learning through thematic information exchange networks. A first meeting of this so-called ‘ComPart South’ component was held in June 2008.

Since then, a series of ‘South’ activities have been undertaken, notably in Angola, Chile, Brazil, and Burkina Faso (these are reported on the ComPart blog). Steps have also been taken to develop memoranda of understanding with several enabling organisations to provide a framework for further collaboration among the parties.

In February 2009, a second ComPart South workshop will examine and agree concrete ways that the various partners can combine to extend ComPart to Southern partners of the ICCO Alliance.

Who's attending? Some of the participants introduce themselves:

Hempal Shrestha, associated with Bellanet Alliance of Social Entrepreneurs – BASE in Asia, hosted at South Asia Partnership International (SAP I), Kathmandu, Nepal.

BENGALY OUDOU of Mali, Economist data processing specialist I am the manager of cyberkene technical information of the communication (health education agriculture trades) since 2006.

Christophe HIEN, french teacher in Burkina Faso. I teach since 1997. First I was in Po and since 2007 I work to capital Ouagadougou. I begun with IT in 2003 with Global Teenager Project supported by IICD through TICE BURKINA. I am a product of IICD in IT. I provide in my school educational use of IT by training teacher and pupils.

Danny Aerts, I work for ATOL, a Belgian NGO. So if you look at it from a Dutch point of view, I'm actually from the South ;-). At ATOL, I'm head of information services. In Congo, ATOL accompanies three networks of documentation centres, in which I'm also involved.

On 13 February, we will hold a public 'working with wikis' workshop with David Weekly. Join us!

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Hand to hand, heart to heart and mind to mind: NCDO debates aid effectiveness

NCDO's call for a debate on aid effectiveness mobilised at least two hundred people to come to Amsterdam on February 4. Talking about effectivenesssoon triggered a gentle, searching whisper for improved cooperation. Joan Ferrier, NCDO's vice chair, opened the debate. Towards the end of the debate, friction and tension filled the air. More questions were raised than answered. How should we better cooperate? With what objective? Effectiveness? How to reach the poor? The debate will go on, assured Jos van Gennip, NCDO’s chair.

Herman Specker from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs introduced the meaning of effectiveness. He spoke of different levels of result measurement and emphasised that: “we should steer programs on results, not on intentions”.

Mathieu Barends, showed a video of his flower company in Ethiopia. “I advise anyone to have a look abroad; my eyes were opened, opportunities are abundant”. Despite some start up difficulties, such as Ethiopian bureaucracy and rough climate, he runs a thriving business.

Frits van der Wal from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs talked about the role played by several organisations in Ethiopia. He described the ‘productive safety net program’ that builds on the assets that are locally present, to improve increase people’s security.

After the presentations, a debate!

A panel discussed an initial statement: “Business is more effective in fighting poverty than the government”. Han Koch (journalist Trouw), Bob van der Bijl (director Netherlands African Business Council) and Herman Specker (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) triggered the debate.

Lau Schulpen, argued against this position rejecting the narrow economic definition of poverty. A supporter of the statement showed how mobile phone networks have contributed massively to poverty reduction. Two speakers arguing against the stance agreed on the facilitating role the government should play in regulating the boundaries within which business life should manoeuvre. Han Koch called for reflection by the government and business life and re-emphasised an expressed call from the audience to cooperate more closely. Bob van der Bijl joined the last two speakers by stating that the government should create conditions by helping governments in setting rules and regulations.

A second round of presentatioons:

Frans van Slagmaat, chair of Bike 4 All, the winner of an award for small private initiative demonstrated his project. A short movie demonstrated his project and an Ethiopian biker expressed the sense for cooperation ‘hand to hand, heart to heart and mind to mind’. The project was successful because of the solid bikers cooperation: a bottom-up/top-down strategy, the bridging function of DIR (a Dutch migrant organisation) and help from Intercultural Emotional Intelligence. He emphasised the importance for a group to be culturally sensitive, creative, and determined. This will result in fruitful cooperation.

Susan Muis, working for ICCO on Democracy and Peacebuilding in the Sudan showed a video from her program. She emphasised that in measuring effectiveness the invisible should not be overlooked. It is easy and common to measure the number of schools built. What should be included when talking about effectiveness are invisible tensions and conflicts. Cooperation should involve NGO’s and the government.

The second discussion statement posed was: “Aid effectiveness benefits from mergers between NGO’s and private initiatives”.

Annie Manders, asked to oppose this statement, argued that “The interest of the privately owned initiative will be insufficiently defended when merging with NGO’s." She expressed a sense of dissatisfaction that the real debate that should be held was avoided by a call for cooperation. Everybody embraces this objective, since we have shared motives. But, how can we reach more aid effectiveness. And if through improved cooperation, how should it improve? The fight, the battle against poverty, does it exclude setbacks? Why did we only listen to success stories today? We might better listen to failed projects and learn from them.

Jos van Gennip closed the debate, concluding that we should change our tone in relation to ‘the South’, not seeing it as part of the problem, but as part of the solution. The debate should be continued.

ICCO's Susan Muis reflects on the debate:
Video thumbnail. Click to play
By Stephanie Zwier

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Impressies World Social Forum – Bélem, 27 januari – 1 februari 2009

Het World Social Forum is voor de eerste maal georganiseerd in 2001 in Porto Allegre, Brazilië, als tegenhanger van het World Economic Forum dat jaarlijks georganiseerd wordt in Davos. Het WSF is opgericht door een aantal organisaties waaronder partnerorganisaties die door ICCO worden ondersteund. Zij zijn niet tegen globalisering zelf; wel tegen de eendimensionale vorm van globalisering. Het uiteindelijke doel van het WSF is om te komen tot een meer duurzame vorm van globalisering waarbij er naast economische belangen aandacht is voor het milieu en de rechten van mensen. Over de vraag hoe dat bereikt moet worden bestaat sinds de oprichting van het WSF discussie. Sommigen vinden dat het WSF moet komen met voorstellen voor verandering. Anderen zeggen dat zoiets onmogelijk te bereiken is met een zo grote diversiteit aan mensen, nationaliteiten en achtergronden. Voor hen is de belangrijkste functie van het WSF het bieden van een forum waar ideeën worden uitgewisseld, vergelijkbaar met het WEF in Davos: ook daar worden geen besluiten genomen, verdragen opgesteld o.i.d. terwijl toch het WEF een grote invloed heeft op de richting van de wereldeconomie.

Ik heb vanaf het begin de WSF kunnen volgen: de eerste drie WSFora in Porto Alegre, de 4de in 2004 in Mumbai, de 5de opnieuw in Porto Allegre, het 6de WSF in 2007 in Nairobi en het 7de nu dus in Bélem. Naar schatting waren dit keer zo’n 100.000 mensen aanwezig; de meerderheid afkomstig uit Brazilië en Latijns Amerika. Daarnaast waren mensen uit de andere continenten aanwezig met name vertegenwoordigers van sociale bewegingen, NGO’s, kerkelijke organisaties, vakbonden, universiteiten, vrouwen- en mensenrechten organisaties. Overigens minder dan voorgaande keren uit Afrika en Azië vanwege de slechte bereikbaarheid van Bélem en de hoge kosten van de reis.

In dit WSF dat plaatsvond aan de rand van het Amazone gebied, ging veel aandacht uit naar drie zaken:
1) de klimaatveranderingen en het behoud van de Amazone als één van de belangrijkste natuurgebieden ter wereld. In rap tempo wordt dit enorme gebied ontbost wat grote negatieve gevolgen heeft voor regenval en daarmee voor de landbouw, voor de grote variëteit aan flora en fauna. Als deze ontbossing doorgaat, dan zal in 2030 een gebied zo groot als 32 keer België aangetast zijn. Op dit WSF waren zo’n 7.500 Indianen aanwezig die met boten vanuit de Amazone naar Bélem waren gekomen om aandacht te vragen voor de aantasting van hun leefomgeving.
2) De serie van crisissen die het afgelopen jaar heeft plaats gevonden: de milieu en klimaatcrisis, de voedselcrisis, de energiecrisis en ten slotte de financiële crisis. In 2001 bij het eerste WSF was het ondenkbaar om over alternatieve vormen van globalisering na te denken. Nu na al deze crisissen begint het besef door te dringen dat het anders moet.
3) De oorlog in Gaza. Hoewel de Palestijnse kwestie op de afgelopen WSFora al de nodige aandacht kreeg, was het deze keer vanwege de oorlog in Gaza in alle gesprekken aanwezig. Het wordt steeds meer een voorbeeld van hoe mensenrechten en het internationale humanitaire recht worden genegeerd door regeringen. Veel sociale bewegingen die in hun land te maken hebben schending van hun rechten, beschouwen de Palestijnse zaak als een symbool voor hun eigen strijd. Het was jammer dat de Palestijnen zelf zo slecht georganiseerd waren. Tegenover de enorme Cubaanse tent viel de Palestijnse partytent van 2 bij 2 meter nauwelijks op. Men toonde er vooral veel gruwelijke foto’s van slachtoffers van het recente geweld in Gaza.
Het belang van het WSF zeker in deze tijd van crisissen in de wereld, werd nog eens onderstreept door de aanwezigheid van 5 Latijns Amerikaanse presidenten op dit WSF: Naast Lula, de president van Brazilië, waren de presidenten van Paraguay, Bolivia, Equador en Venezuela aanwezig. In tegenstelling tot voorgaande keren, besloot Lula dit keer niet naar Davos te gaan maar naar Bélem te komen. Een duidelijk signaal dat wat hem betreft veranderingen nodig zijn. Al langer bepleit hij, samen met een aantal andere staatshoofden van opkomende economieën in het zuiden, andere machtsverhoudingen in de VN-organen en de WTO. Fernando Lugo, de nieuwe (linkse) president van Paraquay vertelde op het WSF dat de komst van Lula en de World Social Fora de hoop heeft uitgestraald dat het anders kan. Dat heeft Latijns Amerika veranderd en het mogelijk gemaakt dat er in veel landen nu presidenten zitten die voort zijn gekomen uit die sociale bewegingen.

ICCO ondersteunt het WSF sinds de oprichting financieel en door zelf activiteiten te organiseren. In dit WSF lag de nadruk daarbij op twee thema’s: de criminalisering van sociaal protest en mensenrechten verdedigers en het geweld tegen vrouwen in conflict situaties. ICCO had daarvoor een aantal vertegenwoordigers van partnerorganisaties uitgenodigd uit DR Congo, Vietnam, El Salvador, Peru, Honduras, Israël en Indonesië. Veel van deze mensen staan onder zware druk in eigen land vanwege hun mensenrechten werk. Zoals Indria Fernida van de Indonesische organisatie Kontras waarvan de directeur – Munir - drie jaar geleden werd vergiftigd en vermoord toen hij op weg was naar Nederland. De ironie wilde dat hij op uitnodiging van ICCO op weg was naar NL om even te ontsnappen aan de bedreigingen aan zijn adres. Nog steeds worden Indria en haar collega’s bedreigd in Indonesië. In veel landen wordt antiterrorisme wetgeving misbruikt om mensen die opkomen voor hun rechten en verdedigers van mensenrechten op te pakken of op andere manieren tot zwijgen te brengen. Justine Masika Bihamba was op onze uitnodiging op het WSF in Bélem om over haar ervaringen te vertellen in het oosten van Congo waar in het conflict veel vrouwen op grote schaal worden verkracht, mishandeld en vermoord door de strijdende partijen. Zij verleend met haar organisatie in Congo medische, psychosociale en juridische steun aan slachtoffers van dat geweld. Zij kreeg voor dit werk in december 2008 de ‘Human Rights Defenders Tulip’ van de Nederlandse overheid.

Het grote belang voor ICCO en haar partners in het WSF is de uitwisseling van ervaringen en het bespreken van strategieën hoe beter bescherming te bieden aan het werk van mensenrechtenverdedigers. De ervaring van ICCO uit voorgaande WSFora leert dat zij deze geleerde lessen en strategieën toe passen in hun eigen werk en er uitwisselingen ontstaan. Ook dit keer zijn er veel contacten gelegd o.a. met vertegenwoordigers van mensenrechten organisaties uit Colombia die naar DR Congo zullen gaan om Justine te helpen bij het ontwikkelen van haar strategie om vrouwen in de oorlog in Congo beter te kunnen beschermen.

Op de afsluitende bijeenkomst van zondag 1 februari, is een voorstel gedaan om het volgende WSF in de Arabische wereld te organiseren. Het voorstel is afkomstig van Arabische organisaties vertegenwoordigd op het WSF die zo het gebrek aan democratie en ruimte voor maatschappelijke organisaties in veel van de Arabische landen willen onderstrepen. Zij hopen dat een dergelijk forum in 2011 in Rabat, Marokko machtshebbers in de Arabische wereld onder druk kan zetten om te democratiseren. Of dat voorstel het zal halen, zal de komende dagen moeten blijken als dit voorstel onderzocht wordt op haar haalbaarheid.

Bélem, 1 februari 2009

Harry Derksen