Focus Group Discussion Community Based Legitimacy for CSOs
How do local communities value the advocacy activities by partners on the ground? Which sections of local communities are reached through these activities? Which voices gain prominence and who may be left out?
Join this workshop on community-based legitimacy for civil society organisations (CSOs) to hear preliminary findings of a research project conducted at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. These findings are based on observations, interviews and the development of ‘science comics’ in Kenya and elsewhere. Partos’ partners and representatives of other advocacy organisations are invited to discuss current practices and organisational needs in order to develop a toolkit to assess community-based legitimacy for CSOs.
The focus group discussion will be facilitated by Dr. Maaike Matelski from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.
Why you do not want to miss this?
Development projects are increasingly led from the South. Therefore, it becomes more important to study local power dynamics and identify which local voices are heard and which remain underrepresented. The project thus aligns with Partos’ projects around Civic Power and Shift the Power. This workshop is based on interviews and extensive observations with community members. You will hear unique perspectives into how community members represent themselves and how they experience advocacy activities and partnerships with transnational NGOs. This workshop facilitates informal interaction between advocacy NGO representatives to discuss whether these observations apply to their organisations and how they might integrate these findings into projects around Civic Power and Shift the Power.
Context of the research and the comics
This project builds on previous research into the theory of change of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ policy framework ‘Dialogue and Dissent’. Under the research programme ‘New roles of CSOs for inclusive development’, our team, led by Prof. Marja Spierenburg, looked into the strategies and sources of legitimacy of advocacy CSOs working on land rights in various locations in Kenya. We found that sources of CSO legitimacy are context, time and actor-specific. Therefore, CSOs sometimes have to balance the competing demands of community members, governments and donor representatives. The current project seeks to operationalise further community-based legitimacy for CSOs, especially in relation to rural, remote and otherwise marginalised beneficiaries. It focuses specifically on the role of community-based intermediaries, who operate as spokespersons for their community towards CSOs and other partners. Who are they, how are they selected, and what are their experiences and challenges? In addition to profiles of community spokespersons and ‘science comics’ developed with community members in Kenya, this project draws on previous research conducted in Myanmar and an upcoming study in Ghana.
Purpose of the toolkit and follow-up steps
An online toolkit is being developed based on observations and interviews in Kenya and elsewhere. In the toolkit, you’ll find short, popular summaries of relevant scientific studies, portraits of community spokespersons, and ‘science comics’ depicting the communities’ interactions with NGOs. In this workshop, you’re invited to provide feedback on a preliminary version of the toolkit, discuss if and how the findings relate to your specific field, and influence the final development of the toolkit.