yellow shape
Communication & Engagement Blog

Blog Liana: Actively sharing facts to contradict falsehoods

There was another fine article in the Telegraaf last week. Former spokesperson for Development Cooperation for the VVD in the Lower House, Zsolt Szabo, posits that a serious public discussion on accountability for the financial injections for international cooperation has so far never taken place. And that it cannot be clearly stated what these investments have now delivered in terms of fighting hunger, poverty and corruption, strengthening women’s rights, economic growth and good education.

18 April 2024

Hard to take Szabo seriously

Szabo’s theses are hard to take seriously, as there is almost no policy area with as much reporting obligation as development cooperation. We have the IOB, which publishes critical evaluations with great regularity, and it is not that these reports disappear unread into the bottom drawer. On the contrary, these reports are regularly discussed during parliamentary debates. In addition, huge results have been achieved. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs even keeps a Results Report, where the results of Dutch development efforts are clearly depicted.

It is easy for people like Szabo to score with articles like these. They appeal to gut feelings: our taxpayers’ money is being wasted and that is bad. I would think that our taxpayers’ money is being wasted in many other ways. By not collecting them, for instance, and letting the super-rich have their way with tax evasion, as we read in a disconcerting reconstruction by NRC into the commerce and dealings of Ms de Carvalho-Heineken. But that aside.

Let a dissenting voice be heard

Today, scientists Mirjam Vossen and Ralf Bodelier, who put themselves in the shoes of readers for the Telegraaf, thankfully voiced a dissenting voice in the same newspaper. This good example is worth following: we can properly counter critical articles with facts and share positive results more actively and widely.

I am not going to list all the results now, that would be impossible, but I will make an appeal. Share your results actively! Submitted letters are published regularly, especially if the angle is original, critical of policy, or possible agreements within the formation process. If it is too much work for your organisation, do it together with others. And send everything to Partos too, because we publish as many of these kinds of letters and articles as possible on our website. And others can use that in turn.

Tell the importance of investing in low-income countries

At DGIS’s networking reception yesterday, there was a call to engage with people as much as possible and build bridges between our sector and constituents. This is also badly needed. Many people do not understand why it is important to invest in low-income countries. Also announced during that reception was the publication of ‘the yellow booklet’. The booklet, written by a number of member organisations in collaboration with Mirjam Vossen, is a follow-up to an earlier publication; Beyond the Borrelpraat. In it, myths concerning our sector are debunked. Next week, the new booklet will be pre-launch during our ALV. I am very much looking forward to that! We can use the booklet to counter false statements and populist clamour.

Finally, Partos wouldn’t be Partos if we didn’t have an active working group to work on this fact-sharing, because that’s what it’s ultimately about. This Sector Communication Core Group will collect facts and make them available to the network to use in communications. All input is welcome and your participation is also desired, so get involved in sharing facts and knowledge with each other (and with supporters).

Be proud of what we have to say!

It is hoped that we all start to turn the tide. We must not be intimidated by the perils of The Hague at the moment and possible new cuts, also known as austerity, coming to us via the Spring Memorandum. We must tell our own story and continue to believe in our strength. We should be proud of what we have to say. That feeling must return, so climb into the pen!

Also, yesterday, UNFPA presented The World Population Report 2024, a good resource on sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (thanks to Rutgers for the dynamic session). There are many more reports. Use them. Nothing speaks louder than data.