By Phillip Walker, Chairperson, AACES Project Steering Committee
As the Chairperson of the Australia Africa Community Engagement Scheme (AACES) Program Steering Committee, I am proud to tell you about the release of the inaugural AACES Annual Report 2011-12 this month. It is clear from the report that the program is emerging as another community development success story.
Naatena Lenayora of Maralal, Samburu, Kenya, Photo by Jay Maheswaran
AACES is unlike typical grant/donor relationships; it is a partnership agreement between AusAID, ten Australian NGOs and their African partners. All parties value and support one another to get the best development outcomes in the African countries where we work.AACES recognises Australian NGOs’ positive record of working in Africa for some fifty years. Australian NGOs provide unique skills, have a strong base within the communities they work with and are there for the long haul.
Our partners work in eleven African countries, delivering projects that improve access to water and sanitation, food and nutrition, and improve maternal and child health outcomes.
By Asif Saleh, Senior Director–Strategy, Communications and Capacity, BRAC
It’s hard to believe, but BRAC’s relationship with AusAID started in 1977 with a rural development project called Shaturia in a remote corner of Bangladesh. The project cost was a whopping US$3,700! BRAC was just starting its now-famous Manikganj project at that time and its headquarters was a tiny office with only a handful of people.
Children take part in an exercise in groups inside a BRAC primary school in Manikganj. AusAID funds a range of core programs including its education work primarily in formal education. Photo: Conor Ashleigh for AusAID.
Those days are, of course, long gone. BRAC’s reach now extends to almost every village in Bangladesh. Beyond Bangladesh, BRAC has also expanded to 10 other countries. With a staff of 200,000 (full-time and part-time) reaching almost 126 million people, BRAC is now the largest NGO in the world. The relationship with Australia has not remained static.
By Emele Duituturaga, Executive Director, Pacific Islands Association of Non-Government Organisations (PIANGO)
The catalytic role of local civil society organisations (CSOs) in rethinking development in the Pacific is a theme that has been weighing heavily on my mind since the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness (4HLF) in Busan.
The conference, which took place in Korea last December, was the culmination of concerted organised civil society activism that arose out of the 3HLF, held in Accra in 2008. For me, as one of more than 300 global CSO representatives in Busan, delivering an address on behalf the people of the Pacific region in the closing session was the pinnacle of my CSO career.
Since returning home from Busan, I have been asked: so what did the conference deliver for Pacific CSOs? In Busan, civil society was represented by our own Sherpa at the OECD Working Party on Aid Effectiveness negotiating table. Never before had civil society been considered equal to governments, donors and multilateral organisations. But then, 2011 was no ordinary year. From the Arab Spring to the ‘occupy wall street’ protests—all around the world citizens were taking to the streets. For me, it encapsulated the role of citizens and the power of organised civil society to change the destiny of nations.
By Marc Purcell, Executive Director of the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID)
The Australian Government, through AusAID, is about to launch its Civil Society Engagement Framework, which will outline the way in which the Australian aid program will engage with civil society into the future. I’ll be eagerly awaiting its release not only because ACFID helped to develop the Framework, but because I believe civil society
engagement is essential for effective, long-lasting development.
Civil society allows people's voices to be heard: Thousands of women took part in this HungerFREE rally in Nepal (8 December 2008), coordinated by the civil society organisation ActionAid. The rally was the culmination of 16 days of activity demanding action from the Nepalese Government and many of the participants travelled for several days from remote regions of Nepal to attend.
In 1823 Alexis de Tocqueville described a new sort of activity, which had sprung up in the ‘new world’: America. This activity ‘…stressed volunteerism, community spirit and
independent associational life as protections against the domination of society by the state, and indeed as a counterbalance which helped to keep the state accountable and effective’. He called this activity ‘civil society’.