Friday, 19 February 2010

Workshop on the WRR report on Dutch development aid

Today, a very lively ICCO Alliance debate on the WRR report on development took place at ICCO/KiA head office. The 40+ participants did represent the broad range of organisations in the Alliance. Not everybody had read the –extensive- report, but most were well aware of the major issues and the implications of the report's conclusions.

The editor of Vice Versa, Marc Broere, interviewed Harry Derksen, Jan van Doggenaar (both from ICCO) , Henk Jochemsen of Prisma and Ron Rijnbende of Edukans, who also acted as moderator for the two-hour session. They were asked to pinpoint the convincing issues in the report, the missed opportunities but especially to identify those themes in the report the Alliance would have to take seriously. These issues where then defined as the agenda for four break-out sessions, which gave the staff of the organisations present a good opportunity to discuss while at the same time getting to know each other.

The main conclusions the break-our groups came back with referred, amongst others, to the obvious lack of depth in what the WRR had to say about civil society and NGOs and the strange impression that, although the authors of the report say they don’t subscribe to the notion of grand projects, at the same time they seem to be advocating for such a grand design for Dutch development aid.

Jan van Doggenaar, ICCO Alliance

Ron Rijnbende, Edukans

Many people also pointed to the fact that poverty in the report is treated as a neutral phenomenon requiring ‘technical’ and organisational answers. That, together with an obvious lack of understanding of civil society operating between the state and the market, is evidence of the de-politicisation of poverty-related problems and, therefore, of development cooperation itself. The Alliance will have to engage in this debate publically, especially in these issues.

Henk Jochemsen, Prisma

Marc Broere, Vice Versa

Marc Broere gave Jack van Ham (ICCO Director)the opportunity to reflect on the issues coming back from the groups which he did with his usual enthusiasm.

The material coming out of this session will be used as input for information to be passed on to the the Alliance’s International Advisory Group meeting at the end of February and for the Partos-document that is being prepared in response to the WRR.

by Pim Verhallen

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