What happens when you give someone a voice instead of a bag of rice?
Or knowledge instead of a new road?
And what happens if you not only give these to an individual but a community?
This is the vision of Quidan Kaisahan's Community Empowerment and Good Governance program. Our work strengthens individuals into groups and transforms groups into powerful voices.
We work with community-based organizations at a barangay (village) level. We run workshops and provide support to unify and strengthen these groups. When mobilized, these organizations are representatives of the needs of the poor, socially-excluded and marginalized.
Our community education programs also provide leadership, business and technical skills training. We respond to the requests from the community to tackle local issues ranging from drought, exploitative wages or inequalities to the distribution of resources, like land.
Our unique approach also involves consulting and engaging local government units. We run trainings and facilitate meetings between government offices and local groups. By educating and empowering both communities and government together, we promote more productive and open conversations. This has resulted in higher participation from community members in local government decision-making.
WHEN GIVEN THE TOOLS AND SUPPORT, WE HAVE SEEN COMMUNITY-BASED ORGANIZATIONS GROW AND THEIR MEMBERS THRIVE.
How does the program work?
We understand the power of community-based organizations. As a unified group, they are the best avenue to represent the needs of their community.
Our staff work in the barangays and municipalities with these farmers', women and youth groups. We host training sessions in group management and leadership. We provide ongoing consultation and support to mobilize these groups and their voice.
In the Philippines, laws for people's participation in local governance already exist. Yet gaps remain between policy and practice.
We look to connect citizens and state by also working alongside the local government. We have built strong relationships with the local government units in 75 barangays. We work with these local governments to help them understand their responsibilities. We set up formal systems for participatory planning, budgeting, legislation and monitoring.
The crucial step is bringing these two groups together. We facilitate dialogues between local government and the community groups on working together.
Empowered community members are able to tell the government about key issues. These vary from region to region and across the different sectors of farming, women and youth. Through the community-based organizations the key needs and pressing issues are represented.
The local government units, now understanding their responsibilities, are ready to work together. They can assist in the allocation of development funds directed to the needs of the people.
Community organization members have also continued to join the local government council. Their position helps ensure responsible governing that doesn’t overlook the issues facing the poorest of the poor.
But it doesn't stop there...
We are also working to have people’s voices and choices represented at a municipal, provincial and national level.
We hope to see community-based organization representatives at every level of development decisions. This will allow State programs and policies to be formed around the needs of the community.
Quidan supports alliance groups in our partner barangays. These groups provide a place for different sector groups, like farmers, women and youth, to come together to plan for their community’s future.