Today we welcome back Guest blogger Teddy Ruge of Project Diaspora. Teddy is a mobile technology enthusiast and blogs frequently about the African ICT sectors and it’s effects on development. He has served on several panel discussions related to Africa, the role of the African Diaspora and Africa’s emerging technology space.
What is Villages in Action
In September 2010, international organizations, heads of state, celebrities and specialists gathered to review progress on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MDGs were set in 2000 to achieve eight anti-poverty goals by 2015. In the midst of the coverage of these grand events, high profile attendees wined, dined and debated the relative merits of each MDG plan, while the actual “poor,” (the object of these goals) were not invited to these elite events.
On November 27, 2010, Villages in Action was born with the first conference taking place in a village outside Masindi, Uganda. The goal of this one-day conference was to showcase the grassroots efforts driving economic development and improving the welfare of the community – all with little or no assistance from international aid organizations. Most of the presenters and panelists were from the village itself, mixed in with local subject-specific experts and practitioners.
The conference brought together about 500 members of the community, and community leaders for this one-of-a-kind event. A global audience of thousands engaged with the conference through social media tools like Twitter, Facebook, the blogs.
VIA 2010 Outcomes?
The first villages in action showed that there was a missing, crucial, conversation that the development sector needed to have with the poor. The first VIA showed that the key to development in many villages like Kikuube were the people themselves. There was sufficient local capacity to address a lot of the development issues facing the community, what was needed was a platform of recognition, support, and empowerment of those local resources so villagers could continue to do what they thought was much-needed development in their community.
Additionally, the VIA 2010 panel discussions highlighted how interconnected the community’s development was. There was a symbiotic marriage from all sectors. Commercial farming had an effect on the environment; community health had a direct effect on education; economic empowerment positively impacted the standard of living. The community recognized that all sectors needed to work together harmoniously in order for the greater good to be achieved.
Most importantly, the community understood that the engine of development driving the interdependency was business and economic empowerment. The farmers that participated in farming sugar cane saw a remarkable improvement in their standard of living. Their disposable income spent within the community impacted other businesses within the community. Development in this village turned out to be a dependent cycle of business activities.
What’s next for VIA?
The next phase of the VIA platform takes the lessons learned from the VIA 2010 conference to create a development platform specifically targeted to serve and augment the efforts of the community:
- Support local businesses by providing financing to the most mission-critical entities as decided by the residents themselves
- Provide a platform that gives the local community a voice in their own development. The community can discuss their achievements and challenges facing in their efforts to develop
- Provide vital development information to policy makers, development experts and funding organizations; information that could prove useful to changing development perceptions and polices.
VIA 2011- The next step 26 November 2011 MASINDI UGANDA
Local and international audiences are invited to participate in this one day conference that looks at the development challenges as faced by the people of Kikuube village and the solutions that the community has to these challenges . At this conference a new direction for the VIA platform will be unveiled. The VIA 2011 conference, tentatively scheduled for 26th November, 2011 will put into practice a new development agenda aimed at supporting grassroots efforts.
Following the success of last year’s villages in action conference a decision has been made to move the event to the next level, this year’s event will held on November 26, 2011 in Kikuube Village. We hope you can join and or support us in this very important initiative.