♣ Equity measures: prioritizing disadvantaged

"♣": Estrategias específicas empleadas por los estudios de caso para incrementar su nivel de auto-sustentabilidad.Pueden estar en inglés o español. Por favor usa el traductor del menú lateral 

"♣": Specific strategies used by the case studies to increase their degree of self-sustainability.They might be in English or in Spanish. Please use the side menu translator
  • With the same spirit of getting closer to the people, the farm has also organized activities with vulnerable groups from surrounding villages such as coffee sessions with older adults, or capacity building courses (medicinal plants, wormwood, etc.), in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment and Energy of Costa Rica. 

    • In fact, the project started in 2008 when Shiyan, Huang Zhiyou, Yan Xiaohui and other pioneering researchers from the Renmin University rented abandoned rural land to the Haidian District and Sujiatuo town government authorities, with the idea of financially self-sustaining and even scaling up their project of agricultural schools for farmers and of creating sustainable, safe, healthy and equitable agro-food alternatives — in the midst of a national crisis of food security, with the quality of McDonalds and the industry of milk being severely questioned.

    • The farm project is sustainable also because it benefits several actors. Researchers, students, organizations, farmers, businessmen and officials learn from its experience or take advantage of it to experiment alternatives. Participating citizens (usually middle class) have access to organic products at competitive prices, a place of rest and closeness to nature that they can share with their children, and a community dynamic in which they share their products, learn recipes, etc. The local communities benefit from the payment of the rent of the lands – whose rights they keep -, from the hiring of workers in the farm, from the products that they sell to it, and from the training that the farm offers them to pack and sell the leftover products of their household-farming production (seasonal fruits for example) and to recover and improve their cultivation techniques (most of the traditional knowledge has been lost with the urbanization process).

    • At some point, the organization explored the possibility of channeling part of its products to disadvantaged populations, as a donation, but as the company was so young, it did not find a way to achieve this goal in a financially sustainable manner … yet. Today, they give to the needy less than 5% of their earnings in food that has passed 1.5 months after their best before date and that they realize that it is no longer going to be sold.

    • [This/the initiative] supports migrant workers to improve their living conditions in their destination cities by promoting their rights in the public and private sectors, offering training courses and advising them in urgent situations through a free hotline.

    • In 2006, a group of these migrants founded [This/the initiative]. This non-governmental organization created a toll-free hotline service that migrants from the cities of Beijing, Wuhan and Suzhou can call to request counseling in urgent and immediate situations — eg. help to get a job, to resolve legal disputes with their contractors, to defend their social and political rights, to solve health problems, etc. On Action offers this advice thanks to the collaboration of a staff of around 10 people and more than 300 volunteers, all of them ex-migrants.

    • The relationship without intermediaries between producers and consumers allows the former to obtain greater benefits and greater control over the process of their economic activity than if they participate in the mainstream food industry since it gives them greater opportunities to influence decisions regarding the methods of cultivation, quantities, rhythms, prices, among others. The direct organization between both parties is also attractive to consumers. First, because they know that buying products from this market supports a vulnerable sector of the population. But also, because it addresses the problem of food security so important in China — promoting the sale of products that although not 100% organic (they use a few chemical fertilizers) are helping to recover traditional agriculture, which is healthier than industrial, and with an intermediate price between the latter and the organic.

    • Emphasizing the participation and leadership of the initiatives of otherwise discriminated members of the communities, giving, again, reasons for people to transcend discriminatory barriers
    • They have done it by developing structures that give different sectors of their targeted communities the means and opportunity to create awareness of their specific needs and perceptions, and that help covering roles and functions (supervisory, managerial, communicational, etc.) that, as mentioned before, would otherwise require the acquisition of funds to cover them (such as children’s parliaments/governments, village development committees, parents’ organizations, rotatory management commissions that ensure the equitable representation and responsibility of all of the members, etc.)
      • Many children in the program indicate a wish to become teachers. By initiating a first generation of learners, the program is contributing to educational sustainability in the sense of enhancing educational participation across generations. It is well established that educated mothers tend to seek ways to educate their children. This is particularly important in a region where the barriers to girls’ attending schools are not only financial but also cultural. These rural, poor, lower caste girls constitute the most disadvantaged sector of the population.
    • Through the schools program, the [This/the initiative] is advancing a greater agenda of gender and caste equity, not least by the setting of an example: in addressing the particular needs of girls; in inviting individuals from the lower castes to work as Night Schools’ teachers; in seating children from different castes together; and in defending the right of everyone to drink from the same water source. Although prejudices are being overcome, traditional attitudes remain a challenge – particularly beyond the school, where other sectors of the community continue to impose traditional practices in which caste and gender influence children’s social relations and futures. Teachers deliberately hired from the lower castes by the[This/the initiative]are not easily accepted by all in the community. Because of this, the organization frequently has to hire men, given the additional prejudices against women. Nevertheless, because of their impact on the students, the teachers are, despite their caste background, increasingly valued and respected in the communities.
    • In contrast to the frequently punitive measures employed by local authorities to ensure school attendance (for example, making an educational qualification a prerequisite for a driving license), the[This/the initiative], mindful of the causes that prevent families from accessing education, looks for the children in most need and adapts its program to their local socio-economic and cultural context. This is not only a key aspect of the program’s success in attracting these children into school, but a primary source of its self-sustainability and of the quality and relevance of the education they provide.
    • [This/the initiative] has never had schools. Compulsory Education’s coverage in the area is almost 100%, partly because of [This/the initiative]’s advocacy efforts in the last 20 years. It rather had focus on complementary activities to the work of public schools. Since more than 53% of the local population is below 19 years old, [This/the initiative mainly works with children and the youth with programs for community and environmental education, cultural promotion and diffusion, digital inclusion, and complementary actions for schools. During the latter, local education-related actors (communities, schools, and multiplier of actions) are trained to create supporting regionalized learning materials with participatory methodologies. This counteracts the lack of relevance of local schools’ curricula.

    As with the health program, while[This/the initiative]’s efforts where concentrated until not long ago into complementing schools’ activities, they are now focused on a partnership with 5 schools, the Carlos Chagas Foundation, and the Education Ministry of Santarem municipality, to work on a pilot project for making education for the Amazonian populations more relevant.

    For this purpose, they also use the participatory mapping methodology. Children draw maps of their communities that include not only their inhabitants, but also their institutions, geographical conditions, resources, etc. This methodology helps both[This/the initiative] and educators to identify the perception children have about the place they live, what is important, whose concepts are embedded into their mindset, etc. Based on these concepts and images,[This/the initiative] helps educators and school authorities to sensitize teachers about what is relevant in the region (many teachers are not from the communities where they work), and adapt local materials and the curricula with images, subjects, and methodologies that are more familiar to the children.

    The objective of this partnership is to set an example of how to improve the quality of the public schools in the region that, if successful, is to be scaled to the whole municipality. That is, as the case of the health program, to serve as a demonstrative experience that aims at being escalated by the State, with the argument that it is the latter’s responsibility to provide access to quality education for all. The project so far has been stopped because the Carlos Chagas Foundation cancelled all of its funding this year.

    • The model’s success in raising schools’ quality relates to its comprehensive focus on academic improvement, equity in education opportunities, and the community’s involvement (the model counts, for example, with a Children’s and a Parents’ government that run the school).
    • [Esta/la iniciativa] se dedica a dar asesoría legal y fiscal a organizaciones de la sociedad civil (OSC) para su constitución legal y como donatarias autorizadas, con el fin de fortalecerlas y abrirles las puertas a más apoyos. El régimen de donatarias autorizadas facilita que las iniciativas de desarrollo consigan apoyos financieros (porque pueden ser deducibles de impuestos para los donantes) y les exenta de pagar impuestos. El proyecto surgió con un curso para estudiantes de la Universidad Iberoamericana en la Ciudad de México llamado “Marco Legal y fiscal de la filantropía”. En éste se buscaba llenar dos huecos a la vez, sin necesidad de una gran inversión en trámites y recursos financieros: por un lado, ayudar a “saciar el hambre de asesoría del mundo de las OSC”. Por el otro, contribuir a la formación en este rubro de abogados fiscalistas que pudiesen adquirir experiencia brindando asesorías gratuitas a varias iniciativas durante todo un semestre.

    Desde que concluyó esa etapa de cursos,[Esta/la iniciativa]   ha dado consultoría a autoridades hacendarias, con la intención de sensibilizarlas respecto a las necesidades particulares de las iniciativas de desarrollo más vulnerables. Desde la perspectiva de[Esta/la iniciativa] , los encargados de diseñar la legislación fiscal conocen poco de la realidad que se vive fuera del ambiente urbano y es por ello que han privilegiado mecanismos bastante estandarizados para la certificación y distribución de apoyos, que han reproducido las condiciones de desigualdad entre las iniciativas de desarrollo, al tener pocas previsiones para su trato diferenciado y por ende equitativo. Como resultado de lo anterior, muy pocas organizaciones culminan el trámite de reconocimiento como donatarias autorizadas con éxito.  De 60 organizaciones asesoradas por su grupo a la que se les dio seguimiento, menos de 10 lo concluyeron. Esta deserción se explica en parte por el hecho de que el proceso es complejo y no gratuito, y la desidia por parte de las OSC mucha, pues el trámite o es costoso (cuando la mayoría carece de recursos) o es gratuito pero lento y tedioso. Además, los costos del notario no se pueden evitar. Más aún, la estandarización de la normatividad favorece a las iniciativas con mayor grado de: 1. Estructuración (solidez, desalentando la innovación); 2. Vinculación con los donantes (son mundos que no se juntan); 3. Capital intelectual para enterarse y competir con éxito en las convocatorias por fondos, especialmente las internacionales (por idioma, formación, acceso a los medios, etc); 4. Capacidad económica para cubrir gastos de constitución legal (asesores en el proceso, notarios, transporte a las oficinas administrativas en las ciudades, principalmente la capital).

    Por lo anterior, para [Esta/la iniciativa] contar con el estatus de donataria autorizada no es para todos, y no basta para resolver las necesidades financieras de una organización porque las donaciones son pocas y difíciles de adquirir. Aún así, le considera una herramienta útil, de apoyo.