Drawing on the diverse experiences and skills of the program team, VBNK offers four streams of learning and capacity development services. There is no one ‘recipe’ for social or organizational change that can be applied all in situations. Rather, we view the situation holistically and draw from a range of interventions to create the most powerful force for positive organizational and social change.
Lasting social change depends on the ability of people to help shape the policies and development actions that affect their lives. The government’s sub-national democratic reform program has opened up space for the participation of citizens and civil society in public-decision making. Yet for many, barriers to meaningful participation in civic and political life persist. Sustainable development requires that we breakthrough these barriers, and create more enabling environments for people’s empowerment and participation.
Many NGOs remain attached to a service delivery approach that is far from empowering of the groups they work with. In some cases it is because the leadership has not changed for many years, and there is no organizational space to surface new ideas and energy. In other cases the leadership is hampered by the low capacity of staff to take on new ideas and approaches. As noted in a recent study of the sector many NGOs lack the innovation and flexibility needed to respond to changing circumstances in the country and there is an urgent need to strengthen their capacity in this regard, otherwise “there is a real danger that parts of the NGO community run the risk of being left behind.”
NGOs should be “supporting communities [in ways that are] empowering and enabling, so as to allow them to realize their rights.” (Bread for the World)
The VBNK project “Strengthening Grassroots Democracy” focuses on facilitating and empowering communities to voice their concerns and get positive response from the duty bearers. The project is built on VBNK’s experiences and lesson learned from the previous project Fostering Enabling Leadership in Cambodian NGOs (FEL 2013-2015).
The goal of the project is that more informed, equal and participatory communications between citizens, civil society and sub-national government agencies to define and act on local development issues will be achieved.
The 3-year project (2013 – 2016) aims to provide a tailored, customized intervention that inspire the selected partner organizations to review and, where appropriate, revise and amend their planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation (PIME) approaches/systems towards a greater focus on impacts. The activities are varied for each partner because they take into account the idiosyncrasies and ‘life stage’ of each partner’s program(s).
The project has the following objectives:
(A) The selected NGO partners in Cambodia are progressively more impact focused in the planning, implementation, evaluation and monitoring of their work and interventions with communities.
(B) Interventions and methodologies that have proven successful in supporting partners are documented, such that they can be replicated.
(C) The selected NGO partners in Cambodia sustain their increased focus on impacts over of period of three years, drawing on opportunities for peer support, where appropriate.
The key project in this effort has been in our work with four partners, supported by an overseas international NGO, to improve their knowledge in monitoring both the intended and unintended effects of the partners’ projects, or as we call it: being impact-focused. VBNK has supported the development of fundamental tools such as primary data collection forms, but also has supported the development of the partners’ current monitoring and evaluation (M&E) systems and processes.
VBNK, with funding from BfdW/EED, launched in 2013 a 3-year project, to develop a modern and well-adapted leadership development project for Cambodian civil society leaders and staff. Over the course of three years, this project worked directly with 62 participants (34 women) from 15 Cambodian CSOs to develop their self, their interaction with subordinates and colleagues and their ability to influence and change their organizations, ultimately leading to better work in the target communities and more empowered community members.
The project is divided into five learning modules focusing on various aspects of leaderships skills:
Module 1 (Me and My Leadership) focused on the self and how to be aware of oneself in the interaction with others. This module dealt with participants’ ability to control and redirect inner frustrations, anger and other emotions resulting in more constructive dialogue when dealing for example with subordinates and colleagues.
Module 2 (Me and My Organization) focused on organizational aspects and how behaviors influence the organization and creates organizational cultures. It also explored how organizational change came about.
Module 3 (Me and My Relationships) dealt with interpersonal skills in order to develop positive relationships, build a healthy team and enable effective teamwork through effective communication in the team and in the organization.
Module 4 (Identifying and address blocks to learning) explores what helps and hinders community learning and to examine how organizations can change their ways to better support learning.
Module 5 (Me as an agent of change) helps the participants articulating their future leadership practice and developing strategies to address cultural and social obstacles to learning and change in their own organizations and at community levels.