Balancing Acts

Sunday, 25 October, 2009 - 19:18
Balancing acts: finite resources, infinite need?
Organisations, particularly those located directly in the communities they work with, are often forced to respond to immediate needs before they can embark on any long term, more programmatic development work. Often, addressing immediate needs, for example, through providing food parcels or medical care, has been frowned upon in development circles. Many development workers are of the opinion that civil society organisations should not provide replacement services for the state and that they should instead reinforce their watchdog and advocacy work. Much of this work is often considered to be welfare and has received some criticism over the years on the basis that such interventions create dependency rather than sustainable development.
These sessions are intended to generate debate around the issue, allow space for sharing experiences from working in resource-limited environments, and highlight the ethical challenges that have to be confronted in successfully managing and delivering programmes. Civil society organisations work in environments where there are competing demands which need response. How they find a balance between meeting communities’ immediate needs and the longer term strategic needs is an important discussion point.
Participation: the main ingredient for good development?
Joseph Francis
Monday 26th October 10:30 - 12:30 Venue 1
Participatory methods and approaches are often lauded as the ‘gold standard’ of development work. But is this approach properly applied? Or is it used only to give validity to already designed processes and programmes? What is good participatory practice? What are some of the pitfalls and blockages that practitioners will need to overcome?
Integrating HIV and food security
Joseph Francis
Monday 26th October 13:30 - 15:30 Venue 1
Food security and nutrition are essential components of the package of services that people living with HIV need to access. How are we designing programmes to ensure that approaches to food security and HIV are mutually reinforcing and supportive of each other? What are some of the obstacles faced by organisations responding to these issues and how have these been overcome?
When is it welfare and when is it development?
Julian May
Tuesday 27th October 8:00 - 10:00 Venue 5
Much of the development work in South Africa is characterised by welfare based approaches – meeting basic needs for food, clothing, health services, etc. How do we integrate work more effectively to ensure that in addition to meeting basic needs, civil society organisations are also able to impact on the long term, structural development problems? Is there a role for welfare in a developmental approach? If there is, what is it?
Short term support for longer term gain: meeting the gender agenda
Glynis Rhodes
Tuesday 27th October 10:30 - 12:30 Venue 3
Addressing women’s strategic interests is critical to shifting power relations. Much of this work requires that women themselves are provided with the opportunity to act in their own interests. However, because of their particular vulnerability, many women are in need of basic services and support before any more long term work can take place. How do we work with women who are highly vulnerable, in ways that provide them with safety, security and support? How do we meet the basic needs of women while at the same time advancing a more progressive, self enabling agenda for women?
Sustainable agriculture, food security and income generation
Maxwell Mudhara
Tuesday 27th October 13:30 - 15:30 Venue 3
Food security at a household level is dependant on access to nutritious food either through purchasing or agriculture. How have organisations worked to increase household food security? What have the successes and failures been? What learning can we take back to our programmes?

Click here to read the Balancing Act report back from the rapporteur.

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