All around the world, IfE’s Field Hearings report to us that poor and marginalized people are disempowered when those with wealth use their political influence to generate more opportunities to enrich themselves, and block access to resources and opportunities by those who need it most. This systemic problem manifests itself through anti-democratic governance, corruption at high levels, pitting ethnic groups and marginalized populations against one another, vast inequalities in wealth and income, extreme poverty, extractive economies, land and resource grabs, human rights abuses, conflict, military occupation, and outright genocide.
IfE is developing a set of activities that can be utilized by local organizations and regional networks to help their own communities gain empowerment, push back against the abuses, and develop solutions to restore equitable development and a powerful voice at the local, national and international levels. The project, called Community Empowerment or COMET, will consist of three components, facilitated by local IfE partners with strong ties to the communities:
(1) Field Hearings will gather input from each community to learn their analysis of their situation, and their top priorities for action. Experienced members of IfE’s Field Hearings project are convening to review and update our Field Hearings protocol, to ensure that it will fit with this new project.
(2) Participatory Enterprises (PARTICEN) discussions will be conducted to find ways to facilitate community-initiated economic development, with help from experienced experts. Members of IfE’s PARTICEN Coordinating Committee will prepare a clear protocol for this portion of the project.
(3) Community Empowerment (COMET) Groups will be set up in each community to help enable effective advocacy by community members demanding that their rights and needs are met by local and national officials. A Community Empowerment Strategy Discussion Group is currently meeting to develop a clear list of objectives and strategies that these groups can use as they develop strategies that will work for their own specific circumstances and needs.
We’ll send out details soon, and call for members of our global network to get involved!