With the global economic meltdown – survival can only be for the fittest – where fittest is relative. Who empowers and who’s to be empowered?
I have witnessed over the years communities as vulnerable as they are succumb to ideologies without basis and accept to enroll in projects without impact. Non Governmental Organizations or as one Local Administrator satirically made intonations: Nothing Goes On – NGO have cast aspersions or alluded to the fact that communities must be segmented into viable areas of need and recently funding has been channeled to specific areas for specific remedial measures. This modus operandi is by far welcome but only in theory and principle.
The monitoring and evaluation appraisals carried out by these organizations are purely based on targets and rightfully so a strict means of verification comes in handy. The big question however is do things change or an impression of a graduated situation is created to justify existence and by extension funding?
Take for example the menace that is HIV/AIDS and Global Fund pulling funds out of this kitty and into a more acute problem – possibly cancer or malaria, does HIV go away? Or the reported numbers create an impression that all is well. The Millennium Development Goals just 3 years away have many targets yet to be realized by many governments. My point in this is so many solution oriented organizations have found their way into unsuspecting communities to bring piecemeal services that appear to solve their problems albeit superficially. These organizations have templates for Entrepreneurship, ICT, Conflict Resolution and even Food security but scale and scope is compromised based on impact to community. Intended recipients are over sensitized on many of the above without intention to support infrastructure, competency and professionalism. An area littered by the numerous, “Sponsored Courses” banners, many which deliver substandard lessons to the chagrin of commercial institutions.
Over time, most of the projects or programs brought in by these agencies are being carried out by the youth themselves and a need to raise stakes in service provision is ripe. The battle of brands, corporate collaboration and donor funding are all big issues between youth and these middle agencies. Organizations seeking to empower youth in slums must rethink their strategies and define newer techniques to curb the situation. The corporate practice too must be transformed and more focused and personalized partnerships developed with various stakeholders – many organizations have split well organized groupings just to realize their own agendas. Dedicated partnerships to implement various categories of projects are a welcome rule of the game. These are the methods that increase the capacity of youth to learn corporate strategies, project management, business relations, governance and financial systems.
Slums are therefore not dumpsites for unapproved interventions. Government must vet and institutionalize operations and terms of community reach out by the many change agents. If the clear intention is to make a better life for many then take them to the next level and many will fill the space. A friend once said a great NGO is one that sets camp, achieves mission and winds up – not in practice.