CAM’s Fall 2011 Round-Up

On Wednesday, November 30, the CAM’s Project wrapped up the second phase of its work in Mofako Bekondo with its last workshop, Community Sensitive Budgeting*, which was delivered to Chief Ekumbe and the Traditional Council.

The workshop as a whole was a success. After 10 months of training in government transparency, the Councilors and the Chief adeptly applied the knowledge they gained from previous workshops.Both the Council and the Chief enthusiastically welcomed this new method of budgeting, intended to improve transparency and development in the community. The spirit of the workshop was one of communal learning: all Councilors readily participated in the workshop, offering their opinions and ideas at every step of the process. All participants also brainstormed solutions to implementation problems, coming up with action plans for hypothetical problems they might encounter down the road. By far, the keenest participant was the Chairman of the Council, who eagerly asked questions and worked hard to understand the intricacy of the process.

As the second phase of the CAM’s Project in Mofako Bekondo wraps up, the GCI team is pleased with the success of its work this fall. Back in September, GCI sat down with Chief Ekumbe and set goals that would effectively address the issues uncovered by the summer observations and surveys. These goals included improving the relationship between the Council and the community, creating an initiative to place more women on the Council, and engaging the Councilors to further apply mediation training in real-life conflict resoltuion. GCI is proud to say that it created and implemented strategies to address all of these objectives.

The team created workshops to refresh the Council on previously-taught mediation techniques; these workshops featured participatory components where Councilors delivered their own presentations on the material and mediated mock conflicts. GCI also created a gender equality initiative that involved sensitzation workshops for different community groups that taught about women’s rights and the importance of female political participation and leadership. The CAM’s team also used these workshops as leadership training sessions for several women from the Mofako Bekondo Women’s Executive Council. These women helped present different segments of the workshop to their male and female peers, thereby becoming educators themselves and personally contributing to socio-political change. The workshops and leadership training were created as a segway for affirmative action, which the Chief plans to use when he places five women on the Council in the new year. Finally, GCI addresssed the issues with transparency and the Council-community relationship through the above-mentioned budgeting process.

With the completion of the second phase, GCI looks to integrate its new field experiences and accomplishments into the CAM’s Project Plan. One of the biggest successes was the integration and inclusion of community members into GCI’s workshops, which is representative of a greater organizational push toward individual and community empowerment. Once GCI completes a second round of evaluations in Mofako and a revision of its Project, it looks forward to beginning the Project in a new partner village in 2012.

*Community Sensitive Budgeting (CSB) is a simple budgeting method designed by GCI for small communities and groups to integrate community needs and input into the planning, budgeting, and implemeentation of development projects collectively funded by the community. It emphasizes transparency and open communication in fund allocation with the intent of building a strong partnership between a local government and its constituents.