Community Based Development

2002年9月17日〜18日にアメリカ、ワシントンにて開催された日米CSOフォーラムに出席した池田晶子理事長は、分科会で地域主体開発(Community Based Development)について発表しました。以下は発表原稿です。

The following is the presentation of Chairperson Akiko Ikeda regarding commnity based development, in a subcommitte on occasion of the US-Japanese CSO Forum. (Washington D.C.; 2002.9.17-18)





I am Akiko Ikeda from the 21st Century Association, a tiny NGO based in Tokyo. We work with minorities in a small community in the Philippines. Before I present my views on community-based development, let me give you a brief idea on what kind of "community" I work in.

The Mangyans

In an isolated island in the Philippines named Mindoro, live the Mangyans, an ethnic group. They form small communities traditionally living out of fruits and root crops, and occasionally hunting or making rice by slash and burn. Here, literacy rate is almost 0%, infant mortality over 90%, malaria infection 100%, TB 90%. The destruction of forest by illegal logging has greatly affected the lives of these semi-nomad people, leaving them starving.

So, here we came in. It was 1990.

Education

We noticed at once that the most necessary and effective solution was education. However, these people were not able to understand the meaning of education; no one knew what "school" was in the first place. And, the people were starving. Agricultural assistance was a more pressing and explicit need.

So, we used agricultural assistance as a gateway to bring education to the surface, combining agricultural training with basic education. We sent an agriculturist to live with the people. He taught the people to cultivate the land, make rice and vegetables, and opened literacy classes when it was raining. This was a very, very slow learning process. It took us a whole year till the people accepted the fact that you have to water the plants or they will die.

Meanwhile, some children were sent to school in town. Sending the children to school was just as hard a task as teaching their parents agriculture. It was beyond imagination. These children have never sat up straight for more than 3 minutes. They were not able to stay put during class. Study itself was incomprehensible. Routine life was none but a torture to them. Years after years of patience continued. Our conviction that things won't develop so fast, especially for these people, was what kept us from losing hope.

Breakthrough

And then, after ten hard years of working (on both sides), we were able to celebrate the first college graduate not only of our scholars, but also of the minority in the entire county! And, this was indeed a breakthrough. This girl now works with us, leading the literacy class in the village of her own people.

From this time on, the youth that have already graduated high school started to form a youth community, discussing their village's future. They discussed what they could do to improve the life of their own village and people. They also talked about what contribution they can make to help the development programs of the 21st Century Association. Now many of our scholars stay with us after graduation, helping our projects as volunteers. Things are starting to move on its own. New leaders are emerging. Though still very slowly, the initiative of development is shifting from us to the people.

(Other indigenous communities that saw the success of our small community began to come one after another to ask for assistance. )

Hit-and-Run?

I did not realize at that time how special my case was, and was frequently amazed in how fast other NGOs come in and go. When you work with a community like ours, coming in and, staying there for two or three years, and leaving after a while, sounds ridiculous. Is such hit and run game really helping the people?

Well, as I found out, yes and no. Different level of development needs different consideration. It depends on the development level of the community. If the community in question already has leaders of its own and is only asking for a mere skill-up, short-term involvement might work. However, if the community is still illiterate like ours, and has yet to fulfill its basic needs, most likely not. It takes time and commitment for new ideas to penetrate through people's mind. Such community will need a long, long time even to stand at a start line. I describe this as the difference between involvement and commitment. This point apparently needs further discussion, but with our limited time, let me just point out that leaving things half finished will only enhance the reliance of the people; quite the opposite of the self-reliance that we intend.

After all, we seemed to have spent the "fruitless" ten years cultivating confidence with the people. It might sound very inefficient, but our patience in cultivating confidence and winning the trust of the people was the most important factor that led our development effort to success. The people that distrusted outsiders so much, now come to us for all kinds of assistance from mediation of quarrels to helping them go to hospital. No wonder we are the only NGO succeeding in the development of the Mangyan people in this area. I think so many Northern NGOs, not to say Southern NGOs overlook the importance of cultivating confidence and trust.

Culture

Another important factor that we Northern NGOs trend to overlook is the culture, especially when indigenous people are concerned. In our case, the Mangyan people were discriminated in the society. The people in turn, wanted to become like the lowlanders, trying to abandon their own culture. This inferior complex worked as backlash to our development effort. The indigenous people wanted to do everything the lowlander's way, and this was beyond their capacity, considering their economical and technological status, not to say sustainability. The first thing we had to do was to make the people realize that they were supposed to be proud of their culture. One example is their extensive knowledge of traditional herbal medicine. We established a "Mangyan Human Development Center" where young Japanese volunteers study Mangyan culture. They are now exploring the possibility of integrating this herbal medicine into our development program.

As I noticed, culture serves as the identity of the people, and such identity can function as a major drive to development without being washed away in the tide of globalization.

(BTW, just to make things clear, the "development" I am discussing here is defined as "reinventing the people's life for the better," and shall not be confused with straightforward economic improvement.)

Developing each community along the context of their culture will mean a lot more than plainly preserving unique cultures; it is sustainable, and we all know that development must be sustainable if it is to succeed.

Community-based development

(I consider my activity a community-based development. A community, in my definition, is a group of people that has common belief, culture, interests, and living in a particular local area. ) Then, why do I think development have to be based on the community level (as opposed to a nation-wide level)?

This is because needs cannot be identified as a whole. Each community has its unique problem, which does not apply to other communities. Even when we work on a nation-wide common issue, the communities might have different obstructions against achieving the common target.

For example in our case, the indigenous Mangyans live in small villages of roughly 35 families. Almost all villages identify agricultural assistance as a need. However, one village located by the river identifies flooding as their obstruction against raising rice, while another, located in the mountains, identifies lack of water. Yet another village cannot raise rice because the soil is too sandy.

A single method simply does not work on all cases. As there is no single solution to all problems, the only logical way is to work in small community units, coping with each unique issue as they arise. By coping with the different issues of different communities, we are helping the people develop themselves in a unique way only possible in their community. Rather than applying a single solution to a wide area, (=globalization) this way adapts very well to the community, and is thus incredibly sustainable. Yes, community-based development takes time and manpower, but if it is the only sustainable way, it will pay well. Actual solutions may vary, but they are all supported by a single and deep-seated development philosophy.

Why Concentrate on Small Communities?

When people ask which countries I am working in, I can only name one country, "the Philippines." They are astonished when I tell them that I have been working for more than 10 years in a small area in a country as small as the Philippines. I have already explained my reasons for such locality. But still, people look at us as very narrow-sighted NGO workers. True, I don't hop around the globe offering support all over.

These days, it is the trend for Northern NGOs to empower Southern NGOs and leave the fieldwork to them. Good thing to empower Southern NGOs, but still I consider such local work by the Northern NGOs extremely important from a global point of view. Whether Northern or Southern NGOs, if the people are in need of "outsiders" that can help solve the problems they were not able to, then, what's the difference? Outsiders are outsiders anyway. Especially, when global peace is at stake, our presence can mean a lot more than a mere development partner. After all, isn't communicating with each other and understanding each other the most important factor for peace building?

I believe that developing each and every corner of this Planet is the most efficient and only way to establish globalization in its true meaning. And, this development has to be unique to each community or culture, if it is to be sustainable.

Globalization and Peace-building

For good or bad, there is no way to stop globalization. In this view, there are two things we can do. One is to help the people who are deprived of their inherited freedom, so that they will not become victims of globalization (=American way of economic globalization). The other is to show the world that there is no future here, unless each and every person on earth wins this globalization game. Winners who appear to enjoy prosperity will find their prosperity being ruined by the very losers they left behind. If Planet Earth is to survive this century, we cannot afford a single looser. A WIN-WIN game is the only path for survival and permanent peace of the world.

I thank you all for allowing me this opportunity to present my views. Thank you.




Hand-out

Community based development
Breakout Session 1-C: Community-Based Development
(9:00 - 10:30, September 18)
by Akiko C. Ikeda
21st Century Association

What is development?
"Reinventing the people for the better"

The Mangyans
Area: Mindoro, Philippines
Literacy: almost 0%
Infant mortality: over 90%
Malaria infection: 100%
TB: 90%

Education




Breakthrough




Hit-and-Run?




Culture




Community-based development




Why Concentrate on Small Communities?




Globalization and Peace-building




Notes

The difficult part
(1) Acceptance by the people
(2) Teaching agriculture to people without education was such a tiring task
(3) Bringing education to children was unimaginably difficult
(4) Cultural barriers
(5) Takes long and profound commitment to win the trust of the people
(6) When and how can we pull out?

What worked
(1) Living in the community (and in the dormitory)
(2) Educating role models
(In other words, making children leave the community for a brief time… they came back all right)
(3) Never leaving
(In retrospect, the people needed a big brother or sister, which we provided)

Ultimate goal
We can consider our development effort successful when the people we helped voluntarily starts helping other people in need, thus expanding the circle.

A WIN-WIN game




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