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CSOs

Meetings with Remarkable Women: Lan Mercado’s Journey from Megaphone to Microphone

Duncan Green's picture

Lan, the megaphone years, circa 1985A while back, I wrote about some amazing Oxfam women I met in East Africa. Here’s another, this time from the Philippines.

Lan (real name Lilian, but Filipinos never use real names) is one of those quiet but effective (and very determined, and maybe not so quiet….) women that abound in development work. She was formerly our country director in the Philippines, but has now moved to head up a project on ASEAN (more on that below). She is also yet another Oxfam woman with a remarkable story. In 1988, as a 28 year old Communist Party activist in the Philippines civil war, her own Party denounced and arrested her on trumped-up charges of being involved in an intra-Party assassination. They held her for 6 months in the mountains, blindfolded and handcuffed in a cage. She and the other prisoners were tortured physically, mentally and emotionally. At least she avoided the fate of prisoners in other camps, who were forced to play ‘eeny meeny miny mo’, with the loser taken out, killed, and their blood smeared over the remaining prisoners.

What Can We Learn From a Really Annoying Paper on NGOs and Development?

Duncan Green's picture

I’ve got a paper I want you to read, particularly if you work for an NGO or other lobbying outfit. Not because it’s good – far from it – but because reading it and (if you work for an NGO) observing your rising tide of irritation will really help you understand how those working in the private sector, government or the multilateral system feel when they read a generalized and ill-informed NGO attack on their work.
 
The paper in question is from a reputable institution (Manchester University’s Brooks World Poverty Institute) and authors (Nicola Banks and David Hulme), and is about ‘the role of NGOs and civil society in development and poverty reduction’.  Here’s the abstract:
 

Blame It on Rio

John Garrison's picture

Unlike the 1984 movie “Blame it on Rio”, which attributed a bawdy affair between a middle-aged man (played by Michael Cain) and a teenager on the tropical vibes of the stunningly beautiful city, the recent hosting of the Rio +20 Conference served to showcase a different face of the Rio ambience -- its global environmental leadership role.  The city not only maintains the world’s two largest urban forests, Pedra Branca and Tijuca (see photo), but has just completed a state of the art waste treatment center which will allow for a 8% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, and are installing 300 kilometers of bicycle lanes.  For the World Bank, the city has been the setting for the improbable significant improvement in relations between the Bank and environmental CSOs over the past 20 years.

When Rio hosted the original UN Conference on Environment and Development in 1992, the Bank participated with a small staff delegation and its modest publications booth at the parallel NGO “Global Forum” held on Flamengo Beach was set on fire by environmental activists.  They were protesting the Bank’s financing of the Narmada Dam project in India, which threatened to displace hundreds of thousands of small farmers without a fair and sustainable resettlement plan in place.  Some were expressing disapproval of the Polonoroeste project funded by the Bank in Brazil where the paving of a highway linking two Amazonian state capitals led to widespread deforestation in the 1980s.  

Why are Increasing Numbers of CSOs Coming to the Spring Meetings?

John Garrison's picture

A record number of CSOs participated in the recently concluded Spring Meetings in Washington.  Over 550 civil society representatives (see list) – 200 more than in 2011 – attended the Civil Society Program which spanned five days from April 17 to 21.  Of these, the Bank and Fund sponsored 29 CSOs / Youth Leaders and Academics (see list) from developing countries in order to ensure that voices and perspectives from southern civil society and young people were adequately represented at the Spring Meetings. These sponsored participants participated actively in a week-long schedule of events, including numerous bilateral meetings with Bank and Fund senior managers.  

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Mobile Media Toolkit
A Profound Media Shift in the Arab World

“A report from the Center for International Media Assistance analyzes the growth of digital media in the Arab region.

A new report from the Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) highlights a profound media shift happening in the Arab world. Amidst continued repression and threats to free expression, both online and offline, this year saw tens of millions of individuals and news outlets using social and digital media tools to capture and share events. The full report is available here: Digital Media in the Arab World One Year After the Revolutions.”   READ MORE

Should CSOs Have a Seat at the Table?

John Garrison's picture

The World Bank has experimented with different approaches to including civil society organizations (CSOs) in its decision-making processes over the years. These have varied from regular policy dialogue with CSOs through the Bank – NGO Committee in the 1980s and 1990s, to establishing CSO advisory committees in several Bank units during the 2000s.  Currently, two of these initiatives stand out: the Bank’s Climate Investment Funds have invited 19 CSO representatives (chosen competitively through online voting) to serve as ‘active observers’ on its five Committees and Sub-Committees; and the Bank’s Health Unit has established a CSO 'consultative group' to which it invited 18 CSO leaders to advise the Bank on its health, nutrition, and population agenda. 

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

One
Citizens and civil society tell governments: Make budgets public now!

Last Friday in Tanzania, nearly 100 civil society groups and 12 international organizations, including the International Budget Partnership, Greenpeace and ONE, launched a global effort to make public budgets transparent, participatory and accountable. Budgets are the most critical tool that governments have to address problems like poverty, provide critical services like education and health care, and invest in their country’s future. When the political speeches end, it is how governments actually manage funds to meet their promises and priorities that matters.

The Civil Society Movement for Budget Transparency, Accountability and Participation envisions public finance systems that make all budget information easily accessible, provide meaningful opportunities for citizens and civil society to participate in budget decisions and oversight throughout the process, and include strong institutions to hold governments accountable for how they raise and spend the public’s money.  READ MORE

More Effective Aid: Don’t Just Develop Capacity – Unleash It

Tom Grubisich's picture

Photo credit: OECDThe authors of this post, Tom Grubisich and Jennifer Lentfer, will be co-moderating the session “Winds of Change: Will They Bring a New Paradigm to Development Assistance?” at the Civil Society Forum of the World Bank/International Monetary Fund Spring Meetings. Here is the full schedule of sessions with the Civil Society Forum. The session will be held on Friday, April 15, at 2 p.m. in the C1 Level of the Main Complex of the World Bank (room 100). A livestream of the roundtable will be available and you can also follow the discussion that day on Twitter via #windsofchange.

The Arab awakening in North Africa and the Middle East is shaking up what has been a slow-moving effort to reform the effectiveness of development aid. The awakening and aid reform share common goals – affirming human rights, social justice and transparency. As events in the Middle East continue to fundamentally reshape society, we must ask: How can development assistance also be reshaped to put more power in the hands of the people?

Bashing the Bank: Assessing the Efficacy of CSO Advocacy

John Garrison's picture

Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have been targeting the World Bank Group for 25 years in an effort to influence its economic, social, and environmental policies.  Many of these advocacy campaigns have been quite contentious and critical over the years, the most visible being the ‘50 Years is Enough' campaign of the 1990s which called for the abolishment of the Bank.  While this particular campaign was obviously not successful, it is clear that some of the most important Bank reforms adopted over the years – environmental safeguards, compliance mechanisms, and access to information – were spearheaded by civil society. 

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

From Poverty to Power (Oxfam)
What does the future hold for civil society organization?

"I’ve been struggling to make sense of the changing landscape for civil society organizations, North and South, and could do with your help. Here are some initial thoughts, but please send in your own, plus useful references:

One door opens, another shuts
There are contradictory and ambiguous trends for civil society at national and global levels. On the plus side:

  • Growing size, strength and sophistication at national level and globally of CSOs of all shapes, sizes and coalitions. (For an example, see previous post on the Global Campaign for Education)
  • Recognition from other actors (international institutions, aid donors, TNCs) of the importance of CSOs as partners and stakeholders"


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