ILC members use different strategies to select communities to work with and ensure participation in community decision-making processes. They have used the following guiding steps across regions to make this process successful.
This "how-to note" is the result of a collective brainstorming exchange that took place during the second workshop of the Community Land Protection Learning Initiative, in July 2019. Members from all over the world contributed to it: RMI, JKPP, RRF, Observatorio Ciudadano, ICCA, IIED and NAMATI. This note is part of a series of five. In this session, participants shared their strategies and practical skills to select communities and ensure participatory decision-making.
THE COMMUNITY LAND PROTECTION LEARNING INITIATIVE IS EQUIPPING ILC MEMBERS WITH THE PRACTICAL SKILLS TO EMPOWER COMMUNITIES TO DOCUMENT AND PROTECT THEIR COMMUNITY LAND RIGHTS.
HOW TO SELECT THE COMMUNITIES TO WORK WITH ?
TRUST AND MUTUAL RESPECT IS KEY
Trust and mutual respect are the foundation of good relations with communities. When communities approach civil society organisations seeking help, it is essential to build a relationship of trust and mutual respect in order to work together. OC prioritizes mutually respectful and trusting relationships with communities by valuing their inputs and ideas, even when their opinions differ. This has led to collective insight on strategies to defend community land rights.
THE TYPE OF ASSISTANCE NEEDED AND THE CONTEXT MAKE THE DIFFERENCE
CSRC works with communities in both campaigns and projects. For campaign-related work, communities approaching CSRC often require human resource assistance in the form of a facilitator, thus reducing cost implications. Project-related work on the other hand usually requires a scoping study to identify possible work areas, and other indicators that will affect the project. These include the community’s willingness to participate in the project, the extent of land conflict and the level of support from the local government.
ENSURE EFFECTIVE RESOURCING IS AVAILABLE
Community projects require funding for their successful implementation. RMI works with communities whose work is aligned with their programmatic focus to ease the challenges of resource mobilization. JKPP encourages the government to fund programmes such as participatory mapping, and the local government or the community to make in-kind contributions to cover food, lodging, and transportation. In Chile, OC mobilises in-kind contributions from indigenous communities, including the communities’ invaluable time, traditional knowledge and platforms for holding their meetings. CSRC usually budgets for innovative actions.
HOW TO ENSURE COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION?
PUT PEOPLE FIRST
Active participation of the community in mapping is a priority in JKPP’s work. They go through an assessment to ensure that they engage with targeted people, who are often marginalized people and not social elites attempting to further their own interests. During the assessment, they contact community leaders to ensure the representation of elders, youth and women. In circumstances where community leaders are corrupt or have personal agendas, JKPP engages the community directly if the community is strong and motivated, and plans a significant use of the map.
RELY ON LOCAL KNOWLEDGE
Indigenous communities often know each other, including the socio-political landscapes in their communities. OC relies on intra-community knowledge to strategize on community participation. Most importantly, OC plays a facilitation role, and allows the communities to resolve their conflicts. Using different tools such as workshops to teach the law, or broader community meetings, they encourage communities to participate in resolving their conflicts and protecting their community land rights.
ENGAGE COMMUNITY LEADERS
Community leaders or elite leaders may assist in identifying needs within the community, despite pursuit of their personal interests. RMI learned to work within this system by first acquiring the consent of community leaders on the needs of the village. With that, they approach community members and encourage them to share their ideas. RMI uses strategies such as door-to-door tours to talk to community members and ensure their active participation in decision-making. The collated information is shared at an assembly with the community and their leaders. In traditional communities, people seldom express their discontentment with leaders in public. As such, the information collected from the community serves as a platform for expressing dissent and community needs.
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