After two decades in development, Planact an urban development NGO, is launching a research project aimed at reflecting upon the role of NGOs promoting civic participation within the broader milieu of state and civil society relations. An important objective of this process is to shed more light on Planact’s evolution, highlighting lessons for peers involved in community development.
Speaking to a packed auditorium during its annual general meeting at Constitutional Hill on Friday, 18 November 05, Planact’s Director, Nellie Agingu acknowledged the role of founding members, staff and donors in keeping alive this organisation that has its roots in the civic struggles of the 1980’s in the townships of Sebokeng, Sharpville, Langa and Lenasia.
According to founding member, Alan Mabin, it was the anti-apartheid struggles of the eighties that inspired a group of academics and professionals to come together to share their experiences of working with the civics, which culminated in the launch of Planact.
Twenty years later, while one of Planact’s critical success factors has been the consolidation of organisation in communities, the mainstreaming of public participation in a democratic South Africa has also raised significant challenges to the organisation’s sustainability.
In response, Planact has outlined a four phase research project “to reflect on (its) identity to inform its future”. An important phase of the project is a three-day conference, scheduled to take place in the first quarter of 2006, aimed at providing a space for “dialogue and critical reflection on the role of urban NGOs and those concerned about the future of South African towns and cities”.
There is currently a lack of ideological debate in the organisation contended Lauren Feldman of Development Works that is working together with Planact on the project. She talked about Planact being an organisation that was driven by ideology in its early days, which during one period in its history dictated that all staff members from the director to the office assistant earn the same salary, with modest allowances for those with children.
Currently Planact’s works in four programme areas:
• Community Development and Empowerment
• Capacity Building for Participatory Local Government
• Research and Evaluation
Planact invites interested individuals and organisations to become involved in shaping and informing this research project. Please contact Nellie Agingu or Becky Himlin on +27 11 403 6291 or firstname.lastname@example.org