The SDC network Democratization, Decentralization and Local Governance: lively, dynamic, innovative and planting seeds for action

May 08, 2013 | bit-wartung | SDC Networks |


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Connecting to peers, being exposed to new thinking and exchanging experiences are most valuable to members of the Democratization, Decentralization and Local Governance network (DLGN). Storytelling on knowledge sharing and learning within the DLGN network suggests that this networking translates into concrete innovations in the field. 

By Matthias Hausherr, SDC  

The DLGN network is a lively and dynamic community constantly pushing its members to reflect on their work. At least for 9 members, the network is essential. It allows connecting to experiences and ideas that shape and develop their work in the field of DLG. The face-to-face meetings (F2F) and the ties established on this occasion provide the space to rethink approaches and innovations.

I was amazed to see that there is an organization – SDC – which invests so much into professional development of its local staff. With SDC, the exchange is regular and constant; we get stimulations the whole year around. – Petar, Serbia

The network organizes the next F2F meeting in May 2013, in Aswan Egypt. With regard to this network meeting the Core Group conducted oral storytelling interviews with 9 members to learn more about how they see the network and benefit from it for their own work. 5 staff members from Swiss Cooperation Offices, 3 members of partner organisations abroad and one member of a partner organisation in the Swiss Head Quarter told their stories.

                                                                                                                                    DLGN F2F India, 2009

Connecting to peers and exposing to new knowledge

The previous F2Fs in Delhi or Sarajevo were kept in good memories. Some valued to “meet the faces behind the e-mail addresses” and their corresponding competences that created bonds outlasting the meetings. Others felt as a part of a lively community across borders. They cherished the possibility to “leave the small islands” in order to exchange and discuss experiences and new ideas. Some also mentioned trainings organized by the network, where they were exposed to “new thinking and new techniques”. Peer reviews and case studies allowed them to work on crucial questions.

Without the network and the face-to-face meetings we would live in small islands and continue our work as we always did. We didn’t have time and we didn’t take the time to think about these questions. – Preeta, India

It was the exposure to the new thinking and the new technique at the F2F. And at the same time being in a small group it was a good opportunity to exchange, to be well received, to share openly and to receive from the others. – Elda, Albania

As a newcomer I am eager to find help and experience. The DLGN is the most important thing for me in my work. – Ziad, Occupied Palestinian Territories 

Concrete steps

The inputs by the network did not just remain conceptual, but found fertile soil in practice. “The F2F – that’s where the seeds were planted”, one member said. The discussion on local government assessments for example has been described by someone as an ‘eye opener’. Especially for DLG newcomers, the shareweb provides useful information to deepen their knowledge and a list of consultants that has been vividly made use of. For the experienced members, the meetings and courses strengthened their thematic expertise and enhanced their skills in advising activities.

I was requested to do a power analysis for a consultancy. On this occasion, I could use the knowledge that I acquired through the network and developed it as a new field of expertise. – Snezana, Bosnia & Herzegovina

The peer reviews helped me to think more about the way to approach civil society support in designing my own projects. Ibrahim, Macedonia

Thanks to the network I feel that I am enabled to relate discussions on local practices to a more theoretical framework which might be appreciated by partners. – Liliane, Bhutan

Potential for future activities

Some see potential in linking more institutions to the network, e.g. other donor organizations or multilateral institutions willing to coordinate and share experience. Others spot potential in shaping structures that offer more material for reflection and exchange of information concerning projects and their lessons learnt.

A good point already existing but with a further potential is the presence of several relevant donor organisations involved in the network, who are really willing to coordinate and share experience. – Alexander, Serbia

I see potential for on-budget work and political assessments. To apply them consequently would set free a big potential. – Pascal, Switzerland

The storytelling interviews show that for the 9 members the DLGN is a lively network, where the sharing is appreciated and the activities and products are useful for their operational and conceptual work. This positive feedback, makes the focal point confident and joyfully forward looking towards good discussions and new seeds to be planted at the F2F in Aswan.

How would you evaluate the network activities of the DLGN or any other network you’re involved with? What difference did it make for you? Where would you see yourself without the products and inputs from your network?


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