I have learned from the study of Social Work the three development objectives, namely: (1) increase the availability and widen the distribution of basic life sustaining goods such as food, shelter, health, and protection; (2) raise levels of living including, in addition to higher incomes, the provision of more jobs, better education, and greater attention to cultural and humanistic values, all of which will serve, not only to enhance material well-being but also to generate greater individual and national self-esteem; (3) expand the range of economic and social choice to individuals and nations by freeing them from servitude and dependence, not only in relation to other people and nation-states but also to the forces of ignorance and human misery.
The three core values of development by Michael Todaro have enriched my understanding of development. Foremost, is Life Sustenance. It is the ability to provide basic necessities. A basic function of all economic activity, therefore, is to provide as many people as possible with the means of overcoming the helplessness and misery arising from lack of food, shelter, health, and protection.
Self Esteem is next, which connotes being a person with a sense of self-worth and self-respect, of not being used by others for their own needs. All people and societies seek some basic form of self-esteem. Call it by other name, authenticity, identity, dignity, respect, honor or recognition, the essence is still the same. Its nature and form may vary from society, and from one culture to another.
The last is Freedom from Servitude. It means the ability to choose. This refers to the fundamental sense of freedom or emancipation from alienating conditions of life. It covers freedom from the societal servitude of men to nature, ignorance, other men, misery, institutions, and dogmatic beliefs. Freedom also involves the expanded range of choices and their members together with the minimization of external constraint in the pursuit of some of social goals, which we call ‘development’.
I have always associated these core values with the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:7-13, as referred to traditionally. Although, in the biblical context, the real Lord’s Prayer is found in John 17. What was recorded in the gospel of Matthew is a standard prayer. A model prayer, which if analyzed in the context of our discussion, a prayer for development.
There are two parts of this prayer which summarize the commandments and reflective of the model of relationship. The First Part pertains to our Relationship with God:
Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
The second part is model of relationship with humanity which comprises the three core values of development.
Give us this day our daily bread connotes the first core value, i.e. life sustenance.
Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. Whether it is a literal debt or sin as some suggest, the implication here is self-esteem. Because a person who commits sin or is burdened by debts, loses some kind of self-esteem.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil is akin to freedom from servitude.
How time flies. Surprisingly, it’s now two weeks since I opened a blog here. Actually, I started my journal blog last month in another site upon a pastor friend’s advice to help my healing process. Knowing that most of my time is spent at home due to limited mobility, he encouraged me and taught me how to maximize this venue offered by information technology. Indeed, it works. My interest in writing has been revived, too. Hence, I decided to open another blog to ventilate my suppressed commitment to the service of the people towards development.
Undecided yet to create my niche, I made use of the EDSA Revolution 25th Anniversary as starting ground for reflections. The feeling of gratitude to God for my survival and the thoughts of my contribution in shaping the history has been cathartic. Moving freely, naturally and spontaneously, this blog has now reached its focus: NETWORKING FOR SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT.
The term “development” became a by-word after the Second World War resulting from the growing attention of the industrialized west to the conditions of the Third World countries. Since then, the concept has evolved into various perspectives. Ironically, at times the interpretation has caused debates, conflict and division, at the expenses of the people who is the real subject and not merely an object of development.
Understanding development is more comprehensive when put in the context of the reason why it was introduced, i.e. poverty. Poverty is a worldwide phenomenon resulting from defects in the socio-economic, political and cultural structures. It is not restricted to low income, but also lack or limited access to socio-economic services and opportunities.
Two conflicting views have been prevalent on the root cause of poverty. Some believe the poor are responsible for their poverty, claiming that society offers everyone equal opportunity to develop. But many does not grab this. Others have already resigned to being poor with little or no motivation to improve themselves. Oscar Lewis labeled this as the Culture of Poverty. The other view puts the blame to the society which is harsh and discriminatory to the poor. Either way, wealth or poverty, is a product of unequal distribution of resources within a society.
As used by national Development Planners, development is the process whereby the state deliberately fosters economic abundance and social equity through the orderly and wise utilization of resources in order to attain a better life for all. It is planned process using any form of action or communications designed to change the environment , techniques, institutions, and attitudes of the people in such a way as to eliminate poverty and improve their way of life
At its broadest, development means quite simply “improving society.” Since the society comprises no more than the people it is made up of, development, therefore, can mean, “enabling people to achieve their aspirations.” The choice of the word “enabling” instead of “providing” connotes that true development is done by people not to people. The government and non-government organizations or networks through various programs and services might coordinate such development, but the people themselves achieve it.
Development, therefore, is not a commodity to be weighed or measured by GNP statistics. As used in this study, development is a “process of change that enables people to take charge of their own destinies and realize their full potential.” It requires individual and concerted effort in building up in people their confidence, skills, assets and freedom necessary to achieve this goal.
Development in this sense is akin to what Clark (1990) call “just development” which he associated with “attacking the web of forces that cause poverty.” According to Clark, this development demands that equity, democracy, and social justice is paramount objectives, alongside the need for economic growth. It must enable the weaker members of society to improve their situation by providing the social services they need and by enabling them to acquire the assets and to improve the productivity of those assets. It must combat vulnerability and isolation. It must ensure the sustainable use of natural resources and combat exploitation, particularly the oppression of women. And it must make the institutions of society accountable to the people. For Clark, just development comprises the following ingredients, represented by the acronym, DEPENDS: Development of infrastructure, Economic growth, Poverty alleviation, Equity, Natural resource bases protection, Democracy, Social justice.
Networking is an application of system theory. The beauty of systems theory and its application in networking is represented by the rainbow. While there are only three primary colors (red, yellow, blue) there is a multiplication of colors when these link, interact, and overlap. I used this comparison in my reflection on the 25th anniversary of EDSA Revolution last month. Visit my other blog edsa lives on
Sharma (as cited in Philippine Journal of Public Administration Vol. XXXIV No. 1 January 1990) noted that the systems approach emphasizes wholeness first, then moves to the consideration of parts, including interaction among them, and between them and the whole. The systems theory, with its emphasis on holism, offers the promise of being an effective guide to management practice. The systems theory focuses on communication patterns and the transactions and relationships among parts.
As pointed out by Hartman (1970), the relationship among parts and the whole are of prime interest when considering the structure of a social system, This relationship is relatively stable. Sometimes, the relationship between systems is referred to as network. Ann Hartman (1970), as cited in Johnson (1995), noted that the systems theory is useful to social workers for it gives a means for conceptualizing linkages and relationships among seemingly different entities: individuals, families, small groups, agencies, communities, and societies. It notes similarities and differences among different classifications of systems. It aids social workers in considering both private troubles and public issues within the nurturing system and the sustaining system of a situation they are assessing.
Networking Enhances Development
The overlapping of various systems makes relationship complex. Since the systems theory gives prime importance to relationship, such overlap contributes to the dynamism of networking. Defined as development and maintenance of communication and ways of working together among people of diverse interests and orientations (Johnson, 1995), networking is a form of coordination. Thus, it is important to social administration. As part of the administrative function, Aldaba (1990) states, networking is necessary for the formation of a broad consensus and the promotion of collective action so that social transformation and genuine development can occur.
As viewed through the systems theory, networking is both a relationship among systems and a sub – system in itself. In this sense, it affects the development of each system while it is also being affected by other sub systems that compose the whole. In like manner, networks and member NGOs work as a system operating collaboratively in order to address the pressing issues and concerns related to development of people. Each NGO, therefore, works as a “component unit” and, as such, affects each other, so that a modification of one NGO will stimulate corresponding change on other NGOs and the network, in general.
Networks are defined as units, institutions, agencies or organizations united for a free flow of information and resources between members without any established hierarchy or structure (Third World Studies Center, 1990).
Forming networks and umbrella organizations is advantageous to organizations for varied reasons.
Aldaba (1990) cites six benefits in this regard, namely: (1) Greater economic and political impact; (2) Access to and sharing of resources; (3) Sector Protection; (4) Effective relations with governments; (5) Establishing sector standard; and (6) Linkage with other sectors for social transformation.
Alegre (1996) cites the following strategic concerns addressed by establishing networks: (1) Sharing and exchange of resources, such as information, funds, technology, and expertise; (2) The coordination and complementation of programs and projects; (3) The formulation of common agenda or plans of action for purposes of advocacy, participation in governance, and resource mobilization; (4) Consciousness raising and development education, especially on the relations between developed and developing countries and between the NGO and PO communities in these countries.
John Clark in his book Democratizing Development: The Role of Voluntary Organizations, presents six schools for the historical evolution of Northern NGOs after the First World. He associates the emergence of networks with the development of advocacy group. It was during this period when NGOs, particularly those who were dependent on government or conservative constituency for funding, faced a dilemma because the culprits that victimized the poor were most often Western based.
The NGOs who continued with advocacy work for the poor suffered a declining support when they opened up to their supporters. Those who continued advocacy but made little effort to communicate the dilemma to their supporters, have lived with the contradiction ever since.
An important leap in advocacy work happened in the 1980s. Influenced by their staff, some of the Northern NGOs with overseas programs became expressive and active in their advocacy work. Likewise, Third World advocacy groups started to make waves. As a result, North-South networks of advocacy groups started to take shape and to gain authenticity, strength, and power that made them a force to reckon with.
The first network to make a name was the International Baby Foods Action Network. Set up in 1979 by seven NGOs, it grew to about 150 NGOs from all parts of the world and led the successful campaign for international governmental agreement on a code of marketing for baby foods.
The more progressive Northern NGOs with Third World program have supported the evolution of these networks, have often funded them, but have tended to take a backseat role. This is partly because, according the Clark (1990), of a residual concern about their public image and legal status, partly because they have a few staff strong on the skills needed for advocacy and networking and partly – in spite of the rhetoric- because of an organizational half heartedness
Maturation and Renewal (1992 -1996)
The NGO community has become an important actor in Philippine politics after the EDSA phenomenon. This position was further strengthened by the Local Government Code of 1991. The Code highlighted the role of NGOs in the local governance process and provided for their participation in the following areas: membership in local special bodies, partnership with the government in joint ventures in development projects, and participation and sectoral representations in local legislative bodies.
The Code requires the local government to allow accredited NGOs, POs, and, in some cases, private sector individuals to take at least twenty five percent of the seats in local development council and to have at least one seat in four other boards, dubbed local special bodies: school board, health board, peace and order council, and pre qualification, bids and awards committee.
The local government Code has also institutionalized NGOs as active partners in the local governance. The LGU may enter into joint ventures with NGOs in the delivery of certain basic services. NGOs or POs are also given preferential treatment with regards to the use of acquatic resources and in the grant of franchise in the construction and operation of such facilities. The LGU may also extend financial assistance to the NGO for its economic, socially oriented environment and cultural projects.
NGOs play a very significant role in the recognition of “civil society” as an indispensable partner of the government in development endeavors and in nation building. The legitimacy and prominence of the NGO sector has been carried over up from the Aquino leadership to the present administration. As in the past, people with links to the NGO movement have been appointed to cabinet positions. NGO communities are also involved in numerous consultative mechanisms as a distinct social sector.
Alegre (1996) noted that another indication of the NGOs continuing significance is the increasing leverage of some of the larger and more established NGOs and the major NGO networks and coalitions with various funding agencies and multilateral institutions, such as the World Bank and other various United Nation-based commissions.
NGO Support to the Surging Mass Movement (1983-1986)
The Aquino assassination in 1983 became a rallying point of growing opposition and outrages which gave birth to the “parliament of the streets.” It was a period of multi- sectoral organizing and alliance building as regional and national federations and alliances of POs were formed with NGO support. Similarly, NGOs strengthened their existing networks and formed new ones to share resources and find security in their numbers amidst continuing military harassment. NGOs’ support to the surging of mass movement culminated in their participation in the Snap Election and the subsequent EDSA Revolt.
Ebbs and Flows of a Painful Transition (1986-1992)
The EDSA event and the wave of political democratization that followed changed the national terrain overnight. Development efforts continued to flourish as NGO works increased significantly amidst the newly won democratic spaces. In acknowledgement of their role in organizing and mobilizing the popular forces before and during the EDSA Revolt, the contribution of NGOs (and POs) to national development was formally recognized.
The 1987 Constitution clearly acknowledged the role of NGOs and POs in a democratic society by including them in its key provisions. In a sense, the role of NGOs was institutionalized, so much so that during the first years of Cory government, many of the appointees came from the NGO community. Even funds from government and international bodies were coursed through the NGOs. As a result, there was a proliferation of NGOs all over the country, covering all possible areas and lines of work. Abad (1990) observed that this made the Philippines one of the most dynamic NGO communities in Asia, if not in the world.
Traditional politicians, entrepreneurs, and even government units that set up their own NGOs for vested interests, however, took the situation. This was so prevalent that so-called development NGOs were forced to band together to distinguish themselves from pseudo ones. Two new networks were formed during the post EDSA period, namely: the Council for People’s Development (CPD) and the Philippine Support Service Agencies (PHILSSA) in 1986 and 1988, respectively. Others strengthened their unity, stepped up their coordination efforts and responded frequently to unfolding events as networks– and not merely as individual NGOs.
The formation of the Caucus of Development NGOs (CODE NGOs) in 1990 wasone of the high points of this trend. In a move unprecedented in the history of the Philippine NGO movement, ten of the largest NGO networks in the country, including the church-based networks and the cooperative sector representing about 1,500 NGOs nationwide, came together in the first ever National Congress of NGOs in December 1991. The networks agreed to work on three areas of concern: (1) training a successor generation of development NGO leaders; (2) Relating with government as a sector, especially the military authorities in the national and regional level; (3) Relating with the donor community both here and abroad.Among other objectives, the following are worth mentioning: (1) to convene thedifferent Development NGO networks especially in confronting pertinent development issues collectively; (2) to provide the venue for dialogue, linkages, and cooperation among the member networks; and (3) to formulate and popularize an alternative development paradigm.
Among those represented in the congress were Philippine Partnership for the Development of Human Resources in Rural Areas (PHILDHRRA), Philippine Support Service Agencies (PHILSSA), National Confederation of Cooperatives (NATCCO), National Council of Social Development (NCSD), National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA), Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), Council for People’s Development (CPD), Ecumenical Council for Development (ECD), National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), and Association of Foundations (AF).
This coalition resulted further in the ratification of a historic document – the Covenant for Philippine Development. No wonder, some development workers considered this period as the golden age of networking and coalition building in the Philippines because NGOs of different orientations and historical context agreed to act as one in responding to the opportunities and challenges of the new conjuncture.