Capacity development, learning, change, poverty/power/progress
I originally wrote this in Dutch on the occasion of the retirement of Peter Knip - Director of VNG international who dedicated his life to democracy and peace.
We had found a great way to encourage people in Ethiopia to become active citizens at the helm of democracy. The 'theatre for social accountability' struck a cord with people, their elected representatives and service providers. It showed that the time had come for people from all walks of life to get involved in local democracy. It showed the democratic steps that elected representatives, doctors, school headmasters, agricultural extension officers, and water and road engineers must take to make services and infrastructure accessible to all.
After 7 years, it was considered that our approach could play a role in preventing ethnic conflicts that threatened to get out of hand. It was my last intervention for VNG in Ethiopia. A full house of citizens, local and regional governments from all corners of the country to discuss whether the ESAP principles of democratic dialogue and joint action could be used for conflict management. I remember what Bogye, a female NGO leader who died shortly afterwards, said to me at the end of the day: "every time you make it possible for us to discuss taboo subjects." My best compliment ever!
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