Our work is meaningless without the communities with whom we partner. The way we engage with them – from the decision to partner, to understanding their needs, to designing projects, to reporting evaluation results – requires thoughtful and intentional decisions that lift up these communities. In order to achieve positive outcomes and sustainable impact, we need to move away from the power imbalance that has historically made NGOs that work in developing countries the “decision-makers.” Instead we must invest more in local knowledge and assets, be creative and adaptable in our work, and include more marginalized voices in our work. As such, ethical community engagement is one of the topics on which OLAM’s Aspire Ethical Practices Program is focused.
See OLAM’s ethical community engagement spectrum tool, which can help organizations working in the field of international development identify potential areas for improvement in their community engagement practices.