Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Voices of Future Generations: Building a School

In this installment of Voices, a South African child discusses what it's like to build a school in their rural community. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Mapping Community Success

Artisan gallery in Jacmel
Jacmel is a sleepy seaside town on Haiti's southern coast. In 1925, it became the first city in the Carribean with electricity and it has been a bright place ever since. It has some of the best preserved French colonial architecture, its meandering brick streets are lined with colorful buildings, and its numerous artisans sell handmade jewelry, painted kalbas, ironwork, and other items. Instead of competing for tourist dollars, twenty-seven of these artisans came together in 2009 to form G27. G27 (with many more than twenty-seven members today) is a collective that shares gallery space, advocates for Jacmel's thriving arts scene, and collaborates on larger projects. As individuals, they are talented artisans. As a group, they are a powerful voice.

G27 is one of over seventy successful community initiatives included on Wozo Ayiti, a success map created by Future Generations Haiti. Wozo Ayiti (from "wozo," a reed that symbolizes the resilience of the Haitian people, and "Ayiti," the Haitian Creole spelling of "Haiti) is an effort to map and document the stories of Haiti's communities and their achievements. It is based on the Positive Deviance (PD) approach. Rather than focus on the needs of a community, PD hones in on the diversity of strategies within a community to cope with common challenges.

Two years after the earthquake in 2010, Future Generations Haiti set out to find examples of Haitians' ability to overcome devastation and improve their own living conditions. While there was a great deal of foreign aid coming into the country, there was little attention being paid to the ways that Haitians were mobilizing themselves. Staff members consulted community leaders and organized focus groups. They put together a list of fundamental characteristics of successful community-led initiatives. Then, the team traveled the country to find and map initiatives that shared these characteristics. At each site, the local practitioners would recommend another for the team to visit. The project snowballed all across the small Caribbean nation.

Moringa tree seedlings
There is the Association of Valliant Women of Anse a Pitre (AFVA) that protects and empowers victims of domestic violence by teaching them revenue generating skills such as sewing and artisanwork. In the Port-au-Prince community of Bwa Nef, RAJEPRE is an organization that runs a community school to teach children about the importance of environmental protection and neighborhood pride. In the northern community of Limonade, residents have rallied around Basin Mambo. Basin Mambo (Mambo Lake) is a culturally significant tourist draw. The local residents volunteer by reforesting the ground around the basin, maintaining walls and canals, and providing horses and guides for visitors. Haiti is full of stories like this, of community members coming together and drawing on local assets.

Wozo Ayiti uses OpenStreetMap, an open source mapping program that was developed to bypass the restrictions on and limited availability of geographic information in many parts of the world. Future Generations students are trained in the program as part of the MA in Applied Community Change program. They use it to map assets and successes in their own communities, all over the world.

To learn more about success mapping, read Success Mapping: A Brief Guide, available at www.future.edu.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Utilizing Community Strength

Through three regions in Liberia, the Community Integrated Development and Need-Based Project (CIDNEP) reached 15,000 people in seven communities. Adolphus Dupley (Class of 2015), Associate Director with Liberia's Department of Community Services, began CIDNEP after learning the principles of SEED-SCALE.

The influential idea for him was building on local successes and understanding community capacity. The result increased community access to essential services - education, water, sanitation, health, and agriculture - in Liberia's most densely populated regions. "We created a partnership between all parties so needs are met." says Dupley.

Prior to enrolling in the Graduate School, Dupley ran the predecessor project to CIDNEP. It used a one-size-fits-all approach. "There was no particular attention being paid to community capacity, knowledge, and involvement," he remarks.

The Community Integrated Development and Needs-Based Project reached more people in its first year than its predecessor ever did. More than half are women. "We have made interventions in areas of gender where for the first time in some of these communities women are now playing major leadership roles," notes Dupley. In addition to gender equity, the project addresses underground water pollution, forest resource management, and peacebuilding.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Future Generations Researches and Promotes Social Participation in Primary Healthcare Services

The Shared Administration Program in Peru is one of the successful community change experiences that the Future Generations SEED-SCALE methodology is based on. Co-founder Dr. Carl E. Taylor provided orientation to Peru in 1994 at the request of their Minister of Health to design a new program for primary healthcare with community participation. SEED-SCALE was then in the process of development, so the Peru program was designed on the basis of SEED-SCALE principles, while also soon becoming evidence for further development of the methodology.

Meeting of members of CLAS Las Moras, the original pilot site.
 Peru is now one of the few countries with a governmental health program that features legalized, regulated, and institutionalized community participation. A 1994 government decree gave community entities collaborative responsibility and decision-making power over the management of public resources to administer primary healthcare services. Called CLAS Associations (Local Health Administration Committees), these private non-profit entities work under contract with the state, and the medical chief of a primary care facility is executive director as the public sector counterpart. The three-way partnership involves government, health services, and community.

How does social participation reflect SEED-SCALE through CLAS? When local people identify their needs instead of only central planners, it improves equity and efficiency of public spending. The watchdog role of citizens overseeing use of public resources ensures transparency and reduces misuse of funds. Citizens can exert social control when they pressure health providers to come to work on time and treat patients well, and can make decisions on purchases (equipment, maintenance, extra staff) to ensure better quality of care. Social participation makes local health and development programs more sustainable. The CLAS program scaled-up rapidly to cover 32% of all 2,700 primary healthcare facilities nationwide because of word-of-mouth from satisfied communities. Future Generations was instrumental in development of a law on CLAS approved in 2007 by the Peruvian Congress that enhanced the SCALE-Cubed policy environment.

Future Generations has played a key role over the years in conducting CLAS program research and evaluation, preparing papers for dissemination and advocacy, and providing technical support on the CLAS program. Documents on the CLAS program in Peru are available through Future Generations University's publications library.