♣ Spaces and mechanisms for planning, flexibility and adaptation

"♣": 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
  • One interviewee thought that for ecotourism to make a profit “you must invest time“. The organization through cooperative societies has allowed them to gradually build their capacity for operation. Each cooperative has now commissions (for lodging, food, surveillance, administration, etc.) that have been strengthened by experience and education. The cooperation with experts and university researchers have helped the project develop step by step.
  • The demarcation of UNESCO’s Global Geopark converges with that of the Scenic Area and the Forest Park, providing the area with a strict and consistent legal protection framework and complex administrative management.

  • The profits generated by the courses described above are shared among the instructors and the civil association that runs the farm and whose governing board, it should be mentioned, approves and monitors the projects proposed by the volunteers on a case-by-case basis. Even if constituted as a non-profit organization, the initiative was forced a few years ago to change its strategy of financial self-sustainability based on donations because they were tedious and difficult to obtain. Instead, it formulated mechanisms to diversify its sources of income: Sustainable development courses were prepared with a duration of 4 weeks (how to take care of the forest, animal handling, etc). The program of teaching Spanish for foreigners was created. The visit of schools and tourists was encouraged. Organizations and companies were invited to make their retreats on the farm. The production of local inputs (milk, eggs, etc.) was stimulated. Ways were looked for to take advantage of local resources (eg use of the fertilizer of the animals for the maintenance of the orchards). Bio-construction techniques were learned, which allowed to save some expenses, etc. Today, according to one of the current leaders of the initiative interviewed, the profits generated by the courses, added to the quotas contributed by the volunteers and tourists to cover the expenses of their stay, are enough to keep the project afloat.
  • The initiative of the Farm is in a moment of transition, as its founding leaders are delegating the project to a team of young people who once participated as volunteers and who today are establishing a new team that has already taken about half a year renewing the facilities of the farm and devising new ways to manage and promote the initiative. This group is multidisciplinary and much more inclined to promote civic-ecological practices through arts and sports. To diversify the financing mechanisms of the project and to rely less on the requirements demanded by their traditional clients, they have redoubled efforts to increase the visibility of the project and attract more visitors, including it in hosting sites (such as Airbnb).
    • Both the farming and animal care processes use ecological and novel technologies, designed from both the knowledge that local farmers still use to assist in the care of the rented lands, and from the results of the research carried out there, conducted by partner universities – who either investigate the model of the farm, or use it as a pilot area for the exploration and implementation of innovative alternative technologies and for the formation of a talent pool. The participation of all these actors then allows the farm and its processes to be always monitored and in the process of innovation.
    • The web platforms, the process of selecting, reviewing and packaging the products, as well as the frequent observation visits by the [This/the initiative] members to the communities (in which they carry out monitoring processes from time to time), all serve as supervision and feedback systems for the initiative. These systems allow it to devise measures to ensure significant changes every year, which enable it to adapt and face implementation problems — such as making visits to other markets in Beijing to learn how to meet the specific demands of the city’s consumers (who have other food culture) or ensure the conservation of the products during their transportation (buying a packaging machine, refrigerators, etc).

    • Finally, building the conditions for reducing dependency and enhancing that initiatives can be indeed of plural relevance, integral and built by and for equitable ownership, seems more feasible if they devote time to work closely with/within the communities in designing mechanisms that help in ensuring permanent flexibility and adaptation (strategy versus rigid planning) at different stages of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the initiatives. Mechanisms that ensure that actions are re-evaluated and transformed when they deviate their planned course (as suggested by Morin, 1990), so that global needs and interests can be balanced with the local ones and unplanned events can be sorted out without neglecting from the initiatives’ core objectives. Adaptation and flexibility (in contrast with inflexible pre-made recipes and evaluation criteria) are key for the customization of integrative service delivery models; for setting up and taking advantage of decentralized structures for the decision-making process; for developing and implementing models that are relevant to a plurality of needs and interests.
      • Building structures for participation and negotiation as a transversal dimension that enables the negotiation among the different internal and external stakeholders involved and the identification of their interests and needs
      • 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.)
    • This success has been attributed to the program’s ability to adapt to the particular socio-economic and cultural contexts of the children and their families, which it does by following four main strategies. First, the class schedule will accommodate and change according to the children’s needs — schools operate at night and attendance is flexible. Second, the program integrates the schools within a network of other development programs operated by the organization, that address the diverse necessities of the children and their families, enhancing their capacity to attend school — health services, drinking water, etc. Third, the program has decentralized the decision-making process (it has created Village Education Committees and a Children’s Parliament!), giving schools the ability to keep relevant and effective for the communities — by taking advantage of their inputs. Fourth, the night schools adopt an intercultural education modality that values not only the mainstream curricula but also local knowledge, resources and skills. These has also helped to make education relevant for children and their families, rather than a curriculum that, by focusing only in the former, would encourage migration to the cities (and, possibly, a life in an urban slum).
    • The success of the program in preventing these children from being excluded from school depends mainly on its sensitivity to their particular socio-economic and cultural contexts, and its adaptation of its model accordingly. It does that by: adapting its schedule to the children’s constraints; integrating the schools within a network of other development programs that support the children and their families; decentralizing the program so that it can better respond to different contexts; and offering an intercultural education modality that makes education relevant not only in terms of the mainstream curriculum but also for the children and their families and communities
    • The prototype alternative market model promoted by [This/the initiative] and that inspired the[This/the initiative] Project, comprises, according to Luis Lopezllera’s “Money is not enough, what to do?” Manual (2008), the integration of an alternative economic system that includes at least the following:

    1. The granting of memberships for partners.

    2. The signing of a letter of commitment agreed on the rules of the exchange.

    3. The creation of a user directory based on the planning of a consumer basket (that defines what kind of partners are needed, including foreign partners, if the locals cannot fulfil the need).

    4. The training in person and/or through a brief Operation Manual.

    5. The provision of the barter/exchange vouchers to the partners.

    6. The creation of a regular newsletter that accompanies and strengthens the project.

    7. The creation and distribution of educational and publicizing materials.

    8. The establishment of a promotional team (volunteers).

    9. The organization of regular meetings for the project’s development.

    10. The organization of decisional deliberative assemblies of associated partners (decentralization).

    11. The establishment of cellular stores for the public (that link together, give certainty, and facilitate the buying of products for those who cannot attend the market’s meetings because of logistical problems).

    12. The organization of local fairs, private or public, gatherings, visits, courses, and workshops (introductory lectures and retreats).

    13. The organization of regional or national meetings (with similar networks).

    14. The use of advanced communication and dissemination means.

    15. The procurement of infrastructure and support resources (property for the shop and office, meeting room, exhibition room, furniture, telephone, computer, projector, transportation, support fund, etc.).

    The Assembly, which has (as one of its objectives) the constant evaluation of the project, is made up of Commissions that are in charge of organizing various issues related to the[This/the initiative] Project. Thus, there are Commissions on Education (to teach children new economic values such as solidarity), Communication (broadcasting the project), Distribution (which dispenses the Tumin), etc.

    • [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.

    • Include a space on their website to receive ideas and experiences in their collaborative network
    • Based on the social technique (mentioned before) called “participatory mapping”,[This/the initiative] makes, altogether with the communities it serves, a diagnosis of local conditions, challenges, problems, and priorities and, based on them, it uses art, games, and communication as means for each of its programs. The participatory mapping not only allows the communities to visualize themselves and their context but to become agents of their own development, and define strategies and roles. The above is particularly important because the local population lacks an entrepreneurial mindset, most probably as a consequence of a governmental intervention that has not been particularly keen to include them in its development programs (x.). Although it is not voluntary, the social ownership and participation created with[This/the initiative]’s participatory methodologies functions as its model’s basis and source of sustainability, “because this way the communities become part of the projects’ developers and not only their beneficiaries” (x).
    • Uses PMES annual cycles (planning, monitoring, evaluation, and systematization) to ensure the organization’s initiatives are working transversally. So, for example, in January and February the organization devotes itself to define and publish its annual plan (which includes objectives, activities, indicators, expected outcomes, and funding administration and sources). In June and July, they do a mid-year evaluation and adapt the plan accordingly. And finally, in December they make an annual evaluation and plan the next cycle.
    • [This/the initiative]’s Strategies for Scalability

    Not only the vision but also the strategies of the organization intend all to create replicable models of action whose objective is to serve as demonstrative references for the State (not the government) and/or the private sector, so they learn better and cheaper ways for designing and implementing public policies/projects and adopt them.

    X argued that the organization’s mission is to create links between communities and partners from abroad rather than monopolizing the former; meaning that their objective is to create development models that can be further scaled by agents that are capable of implementing and funding them sustainably. Once this mission is achieved, the organization’s aim is to change its role from implementing the programs to creating management capacities in the communities, to oversee their continuous persistence and quality after adopted by either the State or the private sector.

    [This/the initiative] is currently requesting an independent agency’s help to systematize[This/the initiative]’s intervention model to be able to scale it, providing that it considers itself as a low cost and high impact sustainable development alternative whose construction is based on the know-how gained from more than 20 years of working with marginalized populations in the Amazon.

    In collaboration with[This/the initiative], Ashoka and McKinsey & Company (2010) made a noteworthy multi-annual strategic plan for scaling-up[This/the initiative]s program (hereafter referred as the Strategic Plan) to envisage the perspectives and recommendations to expand[This/the initiative] and achieve, in 5 years, a “community integrated development participative model, with proper socio-environmental technologies, with low cost and high impact, consolidated in all direct attention areas and ready for replication in other regions” (x).

    The Strategic Plan explores the characteristics of[This/the initiative]’s model and its principal strengths and weaknesses before making some suggestions to the organization – all of them very illustrative of the factors related to its level of self-sustainability.

    It describes the organization’s value chain: the inputs it receives (e.g. financial resources, social demands, human resources, data, and information), the means through which the organization works to create value (e.g. participative processes, democracy, partnerships, strategic planning, trainings, exchanges, inter and multidisciplinary approaches, adaptation of international social technologies into the local context, and methodologies for the strengthening of community groups), and its outputs (e.g. learning and information, trust relationships, reference models for development initiatives, self-esteem, autonomy, social inclusion, influence in public policies, social work, trained professionals).

    The Strategic Plan also evaluates[This/the initiative]’s strengths (e.g. proper and replicable social technologies, measured benefits, co-management capacity, team’s expertise, knowledge on the region, capacity to propose and adapt, network of partners, visibility and credibility obtained, both locally and abroad), its opportunities (e.g. work in a region with global visibility – the Amazon – network of contacts, scope for gaining scale because of the interest that public administrations have on[This/the initiative]’s work), its weakness (e.g. spread of energy and resources in too many actions, non-satisfactory working conditions, insufficiency in the system of management and systematization of experiences, little participation of the Associates’ Council), and its challenges (lack of stability in the funding sources, limitedness and lack of flexibility of the resources available for institutional strengthening, lack of appropriateness of national policies for the Amazonian region, Amazonian predatory occupation processes).

    Correspondingly, some of the recommended strategies contained in the Strategic Plan for [This/the initiative]’s sustainability and scalability are:

    • The formation of a network of multipliers.
    • The expansion of communication tools.
    • The inter-institutional exchange of methodological processes of expansion.
    • The transfer, dissemination, and replication of environmental technologies.
    • The cooperation with the public and private sector.
    • The methodological reorientation to ensure a greater interaction with public policies and both public and private institutions, identifying common demands and possible cooperation initiatives, using information technologies for gaining scale.

    To enlarge[This/the initiative]’s reach without compromising its quality, the Strategic Plan recommends dividing the 5 years into 3 stages. During the first one, the areas that are currently intervened are consolidated as a permanent laboratory, its results are more comprehensively systematized, and priority is given to the Institutional Integration (which includes developing its communication means, inter-institutional agreements, methodological exchanges and consultancies, adapted socio-environmental expansion, transference, dissemination, and replication processes).

    During the second stage, the area of dissemination is gradually expanded, starting with[This/the initiative]’s more consolidated social technologies, especially 1) the health initiative – which includes preparatory actions for scalability (systematization of the Basic Attention Model that[This/the initiative] has implemented and is offering now to the new beneficiaries, consultancy services portfolio, prospective of potential regions and actors for the replication of the model, etc.). And, 2) its integrative development practices: also needs preparatory actions. Start with strategies of participative diagnosis and planning (conjuncture, identification of local actors and their perceptions, research about priorities for short, middle, and long terms, sectorial competences, etc.) culminating with a Development Plan with Recommendations for the application in the area of work.

    Finally, stage 3 is suggested to be about articulating the Amazon with other regions around the globe, attracting proactive and strategic connections.

    • the participation promoted by the Children’s Parliament and the whole organizational structure of the Night Schools has probably one of the most sophisticated structures in the world. Capitalizing on the agency capacity created in those children through the Parliament’s experience could have great social effects that, ultimately, might result in sources of support for the Night Schools.
    • The definition of general strategic directions (that serve as objectives) in stages, each program’s objectives, initiatives, key activities, and their indicators for each stage, that could be useful indicators for regular evaluations of the program (such as the number of beneficiaries, percentages of child mortality, etc.).
    • 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).
    • Contemplates the training of local stakeholders to follow-up, and supervises its implementation in creating “microcenters” where they meet once a month to disseminate innovations and resolve problems together. For this purpose they are currently preparing a virtual platform as a complementary instrument.
    • Sistema de calificaciones, comentarios, estrellas
    • la puesta en práctica de seminarios, cursos y congresos amparados en programas sombrilla con carácter presuntamente transversal y sujetos a evaluación periódica de pertinencia
    • El Centro también le ha apostado a una organización y estructura administrativas que buscan ser flexibles y de buen balance costo-beneficio con miras a garantizar la relevancia, integralidad y capacidad de resiliencia de su proyecto. Lo ha hecho: 1) Erigiendo coordinaciones funcionales (e.g. docencia, investigación, etc) más que temáticas (e.g.  Biología de sistemas, ecología, etc) y 2) No contando con plazas académicas sino solamente un reducido número de plazas técnico administrativas y fomentando, en cambio, la participación temporal de investigadores pertenecientes a otras adscripciones (en estancias, sabáticos, pos-doctorados, etc). — permitiendo resultados en investigación, formación y difusión con una baja inversión en salarios, prestaciones y facilidades para dicho personal.
    • La propuesta del [Esta/la iniciativa] es limitar el número de plazas propias y fomentar, en cambio, la participación temporal de investigadores pertenecientes a otras adscripciones. Este formato único en la universidad intenta que la investigación del Centro se ajuste a las necesidades cambiantes de sus proyectos, así  como a las tendencias y desarrollos científicos.
    • En términos generales, las actividades del [Esta/la iniciativa] se llevan a cabo a través de los programas semilla, que operan como líneas fundamentales de investigación (tanto básica como aplicada) y presuntamente están sujetos a evaluación periódica de pertinencia.
    • El[Esta/la iniciativa]cuenta con un edificio de diseño flexible y modular, con múltiples espacios comunes y de trabajo colectivo, que teóricamente puede adaptarse a las necesidades cambiantes de los usuarios del Centro
    • El esquema de red que actualmente perfecciona el[Esta/la iniciativa] también constituye un mecanismo para su sustentabilidad. Las redes duran más que las personas (especialmente con el carácter rotativo de la plantilla del[Esta/la iniciativa]); permiten la creación de varios liderazgos y líneas de trabajo que no sólo se fortalecen unas a otras sino que sirven de respaldo por si alguna de ellas encuentra dificultades; gozan de presupuestos especiales; permiten compartir recursos y responsabilidades; y más importante, facilitan la misión del[Esta/la iniciativa] de abordar problemáticas de manera integral e inter/transdisciplinaria. En esta misma lógica, el[Esta/la iniciativa] se beneficia del trabajo de otros institutos de la universidad (y de fuera de ella), y les ofrece retroalimentación a cambio. Además, trabaja con el enfoque y métodos de la Complejidad, que al ofrecer herramientas para la comunicación transversal entre disciplinas, facilita la colaboración entre los miembros de su red.
    • Dan paseos de integración o retiros o pláticas hechas a la medida para empresas.
    • [This/the initiative] mainly sustains itself by selling the model to governments, NGOs, private schools, etc. as a package of consultancy services that includes the settlement of demonstration schools in already existing schools (pilot schools), the co-participatory adaptation of its prototype guides and learning materials (their methodological structure), and technical assistance (training to different stakeholders) for the application and implementation of the model and for the community’s involvement. This way[This/the initiative] capitalizes on its know-how on the systematization of the school’s processes to promote stakeholders’ ownership of it and on the adaptation of the model to different contexts, offering an educational solution to improve quality, effectiveness, equity, and sustainability of education.
    • espacios para eventos (útiles para diversas necesidades específicas: paseos escolares, cursos de formación humana, bodas, retiros, etc).
    • Negociaciones diferenciadas con cada proyecto para asegurar flexibilidad (mecanismo flexibilidad)
    • Dan varios apoyos a proyectos como HUB:

    espacio físico/terreno

    Asesorías/talleres de planeación

    Les ayudan a conseguir escuelas que les visiten

    Les ayudan a planear sus talleres


    Les organizan eventos

    Ayudan a establecer alianzas

    Negociaciones diferenciadas con cada proyecto para asegurar flexibilidad (mecanismo flexibilidad)

    Les cobran porcentaje de comisión de lo que vendan y no cobran renta por instalaciones. Todos tienen que ser negocios en sí mismos.

    Les dan tiempo de gracia y se re-negocia (por si no es efectivo el proyecto o para contrarrestar abusos).

    En lugar de una renta fija, cada proyecto paga a[Esta/la iniciativa] un porcentaje de sus ingresos que varía según el acuerdo establecido al inicio de la colaboración.

    Actualmente, los proyectos que se adoptan en[Esta/la iniciativa] son elegidos por los dueños. Tienen pensado, a futuro, formar un comité de las cabezas de proyecto para considerar sus opiniones. Se eligen proyectos (a) que construyan “bienestar integral en armonía con el medio ambiente, arte y cultura y tecnología”, (b) que sean complementarios y se refuercen entre sí, y (c) que sean autosustentables en términos financieros. Los dueños consideran que la competencia es sana y no prometen exclusividad a ningún proyecto (visión que contrasta con la de modelos, como los de las economías alternativas, que argumentan que la diversidad y complementariedad, más que la competencia, son fuentes de sustentabilidad.) Los proyectos tienen un tiempo de gracia para establecerse y luego tienen que comenzar a dar resultados o renegociar los términos.

    • The central government has acknowledged the need for implementing differentiated policies to reach children with particularly complicated contexts; and one of its main goals is to bridge gender and social category gaps. To achieve this, budgets have been allocated for both general and targeted interventions. Among them, school infrastructure is being developed in special focus districts; teaching and learning materials, scholarships, midday meals, and other incentives have been provided; and special training programs have been launched. These interventions, including the National Program for Education of Girls at Elementary Level, are based on the premise that flexibility is needed to better address the particular conditions of these children (x). However, their approach is mainly transitional, and ultimately intends to mainstream children into the far less flexible public education system without really addressing, through any form of holistic intervention, the context that put these children in their difficult situations in the first place.
    • Uses PMES annual cycles (planning, monitoring, evaluation, and systematization) to ensure the organization’s initiatives are working transversally.
    • Que se cubran necesidades reales. Preguntar constantemente a miembros cuáles son.
    • strengths (including the abovementioned systematization of its achievements, its co-management capacity, credibility obtained, and the extent of social participation with which it works), opportunities, weaknesses (including the lack of systematization of its model, the working conditions, and the management of the organization’s energy and resources), and challenges (including the lack of stability in the funding sources, the limitedness and lack of flexibility of the resources available for institutional strengthening, etc.).
    • A permanent pilot project development area.