Country Gateways and Local Community Developmentgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Country Gateways : One Thread
How will Country Gateways contribute to local communities development?
-- Oleg Petrov (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 09, 2000
Why should Gateway partner and involve in the project local communities ?
The main goal of the Global Development Gateway is development. Built on the CDF philosophy (Comprehensive Development Framework), GDG has so far a good focus on government and private sector. Yet, other groups like NGOs or local communities dont participate in the Gateway building process - this makes GDG fail in reaching poorer segments of society.
The Gateway highlights the importance of virtual/global interest communities like SMEs, mayors, etc. Yet, it needs to incorporate the local dimension too, with the strong cultural specificity that this dimension can provide. Country Gateways can reflect the evolution of local identities.
Involving local communities in Country Gateways opens the communication between local communities in the country and outside, and gives them the chance to obtain national and international visibility.
It is a way to contribute to the economic development of the community, through attracting investments in the area; it can stimulate local business initiatives, through providing relevant market information. For the culturally rich communities it is a way to stimulate cultural tourism.
GDG can contribute (in)directly to the local human development efforts, through offering free information and training (from market information to legislation and donor activity) - (to be discussed).
Most of the concerns regarding the Global Development Gateway are related to the feeling that the project is too global, and it creates a gap between the initiator and the beneficiary of the project. Other critiques refer to the fact that GDG increases even more the digital divide already existing. Including a community development component in the project will push the project to the grass-roots, will make it useful and relevant, and the Country Gateway can become a symbolic property of the local communities.
Short term pilot project
The project makes a distinction between the long and short term. In the short term the demo case should be created, reflecting the importance of involving local communities in GDG. From this point of view, the economic impact of the project is not a realistic goal on a short term.
Long term strategy
The strategy on the long term aims at contributing to the local development efforts through involving the local communities in the Country Development Gateway process.
The targeted groups are local communities currently participating in (or recently graduated from) social and economic development programs. The reason for choosing this group is the fact that in developing countries there are few (or no) communities leading their own social and economic development. In most of the cases the slow decentralization process doesnt allow the communities either to work on their own on solving the economic and administrative problems, or to promote their cultural specificity.
A partnership with the organizations implementing community development programs (community-based organizations CBOs or NGOs) seems to be the most feasible way to approach the communities, from several reasons:
- most of the communities are not organized and do not have the motivation to join this project. Compared with their main developmental priorities, this project can fall at the bottom of their list of priorities. Therefore, we may look at the communities which are already assisted by a CBO.
- the CBOs have a comprehensive understanding of the needs of the community. The CBOs could collect and interpret fast the communitys feedback, as they usually have a strong relationship with the main local opinion leaders. They have also the skills and methods to mobilize the community.
- the CBOs have the minimal technical and organizational capability to join the project that the communities lack
The terms of the partnership: (what can the parties contribute with?)
The Country teams role would be to support the community through Internet based tools. The final result of the partnership would be a community web page. Ideally, the community page should be built by community members. That means that a team of 3-5 should be trained and assisted in content collecting and web publishing. They should also be responsible on updating regularly the information.
The minimal format of the partnerships product could be a static web page. Yet, taking into consideration the fact that a big part of the community development programs include a business incubator, the partnership between the CBO/community and the Country Gateway team could have more significant results. The access to Internet assisted by the Country Gateway team means accessing relevant information and a good opportunity for finding business partners, promote the cultural specificity of the community and attracting investments. It also brings job opportunities through the training program.
Depending on the partnership agreement, there are several possible scenarios for finding the funds to implement the project.
- the Foundation/Agency offering grants to the CBOs/NGOs starting the community development program could include a new component in the program addressing the goal of this initiative the disadvantage of this is that policies of the agencies can be hardly (if ever) modified, and if so, they take time.
- the local teams could raise funds and coordinate fully the project, with assistance from the central GDG team
Each scenario has its own advantages and disadvantages. Hopefully we will discuss them these days, together with the budget size and categories.
-- Casanra Bischoff (email@example.com), September 25, 2000.