In years of international aid endeavors we have found a few things that work and many things that DO NOT WORK when building bridges between communities. The list of 33 key tips includes this important point from Ethan Zuckerman:
"Deliver value; what are the benefits for people using the end product, does it improve a persons life?"
It is easier to come up with an idea, bring it over to another country and set it up without consulting the locals. This fails because there is no community investment -- once the instigator leaves the project it is usually dismantled or falls into disrepair. On the ground we call these "bandaid" solutions because they are equated with putting a bandaid on an amputated limb. Prefabricated ideas brought in by others without support on the ground are inefficient & unsuccessful over the long term even if they look great in media reports.
Full feedback loops and a comprehensive approach is necessary for creating longlasting international partnerships for development:
* IDENTIFY KEY ISSUES
* BRAINSTORM TOGETHER
* SOLVE KEY PROBLEMS
* LOOK FOR EFFICIENT LOCAL SOLUTIONS
* RECRUIT PARTNERS & VOLUNTEERS
* BRING IN NEW IDEAS & RESOURCES
* FOLLOW THROUGH ON PROMISES
* MOBILIZE OTHERS
* ANALYZE RESULTS
* TEACH FOR REPLICABILITY & MAINTENANCE
Most aid workers and NGOs forget to have a good conversation with those they are working to help at the beginning. This initial partnership formation is essential to addressing the real needs of people in crisis. Creating solutions that grow value within communities requires local people to invest in these ideas from the earliest stage, expediting the development process and forging real relationships with people & their ideas.
Remember that almost all of us are goodhearted and want to help -- very few have the skills and resources needed to provide REAL HELP of value. Always ask yourself what value are you seeking to create and how can you do this more efficiently for those you are working with! Most importantly, focus on the WITH: Evoke empowers international partnership relationships in development, not saving the day with your bad-ass superhero self.