Last year, I was reading an article based on a research regarding CBOs in Zimbabwe. This article, albeit from 2011, very well phrase the importance of CBOs on the ground and some of the issues faced by communities and those CBOs trying to implement solutions. One article leads to another one, then to another one and gave me food for thought: even though I had my interest and a fairly clear idea based on my experience, I had actually never read research around. And this gave me the impulse to start this serie of articles about NGOs and CBOs, what they are, how do they work, how can we work with them.
One of the issue that I think some communities face is linked to the set-up of CBOs and their rights/obligations. How does the communities can help themselves and what is their place in the project?
Getting together to find a solution and tackle an issue has been done for generations and generations. “Legalising” it as a CBO is a more recent occurrence. And this is one of the issue some people face. While information is available, getting it, understanding it and implementing it is not always easy.
But even then, once a CBO is set-up, when working with a bigger NGO, arise the question of responsibility and ownership of a project. Often, CBOs view projects ran in their community as belonging to the NGO who is setting it up. They don’t always feel that it is theirs to conduct because someone else started it.
“The net effect therefore is that the CBO does not take ownership of the project, regarding it as the work of the NGO. The NGO in turn assumes that the CBO owns the project and is therefore expected to ensure its sustainability.” (Marginalization of CBOs)
There are other issues further down the line. And we will look at some of them in future edition.
But one of our aim, if not the main, is to help those communities to get together and own their project. It is for them to feel empowered to do so. They can do it. Even is often they feel that they have to depend on international NGO to come and conduct a project for them… not with them… because they feel helpless…
Our experience in the last few months has shown us that they can but don’t feel that way. So we hope to first provide them with the confidence and motivation they don’t sometimes see in themselves (see also “Trust, Confidence, Support”). And then, support them with the tools they need to successfully conduct their project.