It’s not just the good practice, but the process involved that needs to be shared

Dialogues become more effective when local community members actively engage in meetings, training, workshops and similar forums. And, for effective dialogues, the communities need to have a good knowledge of the contexts and the issues they are supposed to talk about. That seems only possible when the knowledge-sharing process is properly facilitated in a language that they understand, and led by one of their own community members.

When our team visited Jhapa district, we found a lot of good examples of how the approach of social inclusion significantly contributed towards changes in the local community, especially for the women of the marginalised communities.

A Muslim woman, Zina Khatun is one such example. She participated in a training organized by our partner Rural and Urban Development Nepal (RUDN) in Jhapa. The organisers, as well as her fellow participants, noticed that she was very quiet most of the time during the training session. But as soon as a Muslim facilitator stepped into the room to moderate the training session, Zina started getting engaged in the conversations.

“I was very inspired to hear that story and was a great example of the visible impact of inclusion,” said GF’s senior research officer JB Biswokarma.

While talking about good practices of an initiative is important, the local partners should also share information and knowledge on what was the process involved to make it successful.

“Generally, we often hear the clichéd message that a certain local community was empowered because of an initiative, but the development practitioners need to also explain how any sort of change happened,” said GF’s human resource manager Dixita Silwal.

Good practices can be better highlighted not just by talking about the success, but what were the steps taken, challenges faced and opportunities taken, said GF’s senior programme officer Shradha Rayamajhi.

During their field visit to Jhapa and Morang districts, the GF team were able to get interesting information with the local partners, who also learnt about how to improve their information-sharing about the process involved in their initiatives.

Meetings have to be documented to record key messages

There are usually a lot of meetings in the rural communities. These meetings are the source of their dialogues and knowledge-sharing, which directly or indirectly contribute towards their empowerment, and are beneficial for especially the most marginalized communities.

These gatherings are usually organized and facilitated by local development practitioners, especially through the social mobilisers and facilitators. But with so many meetings, it is hard for the local people to keep track of what plans were envisaged or what decisions were made. Their interactions could be even more effective if they were able to document in the form of minutes and then disseminate the key messages. Such an initiative can help to keep everyone updated about their plans and decisions made during their meetings, and also help the absentees informed and updated. This would be especially helpful during their important meetings with local government officials and their local representatives. In the long run, they would have a documented evidence in place and help in accountability, responsiveness and transparency.

“When we interacted with our partners and local communities, I felt that we had so much to learn from their knowledge that could help in our programming adaptability,” said GF’s senior monitoring and evaluation officer Prakash Jha.

He explained how the GF partners in Saptari, Siraha and Dhanusha districts, where the GF team visited, were taking initiatives to empower the local communities about the legal process and their rights. These initiatives are aimed at helping especially marginalized communities make constructive dialogues and effectively negotiate for their own rights.