♣ Structures and techniques for local participation, organization and negotiation

"♣": 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.
  • Families from the Miguel Hidalgo community formed the El Apompal Ecotourism cooperative society. The cooperative split itself into different commissions – guides, lodging, food, monitoring, administration – and started collaboration with other community companies.
  • RECT’s development plan focuses on community peasant ecotourism. The communities, each organized into cooperative societies comprising several families, analysed which local resources could be used. They carried out environmental impact assessments to identify the number of visitors that could be received without affecting the environment. They have trained the participating villagers and have distributed responsibilities so that all aspects of the eco-tourism industry are covered.
  • The direction of the administration is shared among the government of Defeng city, and the authorities of the forest park, the scenic area, and the geopark. The government agency Hong Kong-China Songshan Travel Company is responsible for investments related to tourism attention, such as cable cars, tickets, toilets, shops, etc. Part of its profits are kept by the company and part are delivered to the government. It then redistributes the share of profits between the Shaolin Temple, the Bureau of Culture, and the Office of Land and Resources, to which the Museum of Geology belongs.
    • UNESCO’s criteria:
    1. management body that:
      • operates the area effectively
      • is recognized by local legislation
      • includes scientific experts
      • includes local and national authorities and actors relevant to tourism, environmental, cultural and administrative issues (owners, community groups, tourism agencies, ethnic groups, local organizations, etc.).
  • La [This/The initiative] Farm is a project led by the civil organization ASODECAH in Costa Rica, which seeks to create and promote best ecological and human practices through volunteer programs, workshops, school visits and collaborative activities with the surrounding communities. It also offers a space for those who seek an alternative way of life, living and working on the farm, and contributing to formulating civic awareness regarding sustainability.
  • To get closer to the communities, the promoters of the initiative began by inviting them to participate in the project, bringing their ideas and proposals for the design and implementation of a fairer and more ecological agriculture model. The initial response from neighboring residents was unfavorable. Few understood why people outside the community opened their doors and asked for their voluntary participation in the construction of a project that was alien to them. It was then that other ways were devised to promote collaboration with the local population. On the one hand, programs were created that allowed employing people, which was attractive due to the lack of work in the region. Today almost all the families of the town have worked at the farm. In addition, the members of the initiative began to invite students and volunteers to spend time on the farm caring for the forest, working in the garden, and contributing to the communities with donations and working together to improve their conditions (eg cleaning the river , teaching courses in schools, organizing events, etc). This not only served for the civic-environmental training of the visitors but also that of the benefited communities. 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. All these efforts have helped to increase the level of participation of the neighboring population, but they are still insufficient, since the proposal is still alien to the local culture, predominantly Catholic or Christian-evangelical and conservative.

  • [This/The initiative]  FARM is located in a rural area of Beijing (China) and offers a sustainable model of agriculture, an alternative to industrial agriculture. The model is inspired by what is internationally known as Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), which promotes agriculture that is more attentive to the development of communities and advocates a co-responsible and reciprocal society.
  • To scale up its model of sustainable rural development, [This/The initiative]  Farm has been providing technical consultancies and training in natural agriculture to other rural cooperatives, through a working model that includes: 1. The establishment of a network of local community-based sales channels; 2. The use and promotion of natural agricultural technologies; 3. The development and strengthening of local cooperatives with a comprehensive set of services; 4. The development of local certifications for organic production that empower smallholder farmers by creating a verification process in which they, together with consumers and other stakeholders are directly involved— named  Participatory Guarantee System (PGS); 5. The development of stations for research, knowledge-transfer and skill-development (technical, financial, marketing and social services to smallholder farmers and their communities).

  • With the support of this network and in addition to the on-line consultancies, [This/the initiative] organizes activities to expand the opportunities of this population to adapt and improve their living conditions in their destination city. These include psychological care, book loans through a mobile bookstore, badminton, ping pong, karaoke, health training, courses on how to use a computer, get a job (write a CV for example), develop cultural skills such as theater, defend labor benefits, select and organize representatives to negotiate as a group with the employers (collective bargaining), etc. It also encourages members of the network to engage in public benefit activities — planting trees, donating blood, etc. — that help them organize and improve their surroundings. To date, more than 14,000 people have participated in these activities.

  • In addition to the above, the initiative promotes the rights of migrants and works to raise awareness of their conditions through activities such as public performances, the publication and distribution of research papers and books on the subject, and the training in Corporate Social Responsibility to companies, governments, and civic organizations. The latter includes guidelines to help them promote the organization of their members or employees, to establish a free internal hotline for them, to respect their labor rights, etc. Although in the opinion of Ma Yang, founder of [This/the initiative], Corporate Social Responsibility helps companies to improve their image and comply with the stipulations of the law, the vast majority of companies that have shown interest in it and have searched for their advice has been rather foreign (including Nike).

  • 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. 

  • To ensure counterweights in case of controversy, the leaders of the communities are 3 and are chosen with the agreement both of the [This/the initiative] team and the communities. They adopt the responsibility of consulting with the farmers what products they want to sell, of announcing them to the consumers, of finalizing the orders, of supervising the selection and packaging of the products, and of sending them to the city. Likewise, they are responsible for managing the resources obtained to solve logistical issues (such as renting a car to transport the goods), to pay the farmers for their products (approximately 80%), and to collect their respective commissions (approximately 3%). They also commit to maintaining frequent contact with the team of researchers.

  • [This/the initiative] has 75 years of experience working with marginalized children and their communities in 31 countries (approx. 17.8 million children and their families participated by 2012) subsidizing the scarce local resources to “empower a cycle of improvement that touches every member of society” and “create the environments children need to thrive” (x). They also work with local groups and parent committees to identify key local problems and possible solutions, all of them family oriented, such as:

  • a. Trainings/awareness programs about child protection (e.g. for parents).b. Early childhood psychosocial, health, and education support.c. Youth unemployment skills training.d. Health care and sanitation (nutrition: establishing renewable resources of food and safe water).e. Basic education (building schools, vocational skills)f. Micro-enterprises/jobs for generating family income.g. Emergencies programs for children that are victims of wars and natural disasters.
    • This budget is allocated into capacity building programs for the community. [This/the initiative] is a Civil Association and each of its local offices are Civil Associations as well, and not a part of[This/the initiative]’s main office. So the budget goes to increasing the community Civil Association’s self-sustainability (training them on getting funds, managing programs, establishing cooperatives, increasing social participation, etc.). The Enterprise and[This/the initiative] make an agreement where the local Civil Association (the community organized) ensures results over a certain period of time (10, 20 years), and if there are not results (periodical evaluations) the funding is stopped.
    • It promotes interculturality: the national curriculum is reinforced but they make strong emphasis on the relevance of education and the appreciation of rural life and local knowledge, which has immediate effects in the life of the community and, as a result, in the involvement of parents in the learning process.
    • 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.
    • [This/the initiative] has 75 years of experience working with marginalized children and their communities in 31 countries, working in partnership with already existing local organizations, enterprises, and parent committees (a strategy that enables them to make better use of its efforts and resources) to identify key local problems and possible solutions (health, education, micro-enterprises, etc.), all of them family oriented.
    • model is in itself a tool to make schools highly self-sustainable because: a) it is systemic – works with teachers, students, and parents in all educational aspects; b) uses the promotion of social participation as its transversal dimension – all stakeholders participate in educational decisions, which motivates their ownership of the projects; c) it is trans-sectoral – it promotes the formation of skills as the basis of entrepreneurship reducing rural children’s migration to the cities, and emphasis is put on children’s application of their knowledge within their family and community; d) it complements the training of local stakeholders with mechanisms for the discussion and dissemination of innovations; e) it is cost-effective – although initial expenses are heavy not so the future incidental ones; f) it promotes interculturality – the national curriculum is reinforced but they place strong emphasis on the relevance of education and the appreciation of rural life and local knowledge, which has immediate effects in the community’s life and, as a result, in the involvement of parents in the learning process
    • [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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Si bien otrora el intercambio de servicios se efectuaba con la mediación del agente de tiempo (al que se le enviaban correos solicitando  su ayuda para formalizar acuerdos), hoy en día el proceso se lleva a cabo directamente en  una página de internet con diseño especial para bancos de tiempo, en la que aparece la lista de los servicios tanto ofrecidos como solicitados, y a través de la cual los inversores hacen sus transacciones y administran sus cuentas de tiempo.

    Como uno de los retos que enfrentan este tipo de iniciativas es que dependen de la tan socavada confianza entre la gente, los agentes de tiempo formulan un reglamento que platican a detalle con los nuevos miembros en el momento de su incorporación, en el que les piden, por ejemplo, informen  a sus clientes si alguna vez no podrán cumplir con el trabajo que acordaron, para evitar falle la red completa. Además, la página del banco del tiempo no sólo ayuda a registrar los movimientos de forma transparente (generando confianza). También cuenta con un sistema de calificaciones para los usuarios (comentarios, estrellas) que permiten identificar los nodos (miembros) de la red que pudiesen estar causando problemas.

    • The Territorial Development Program is the basis of the social and political support of all of[This/the initiative]’s work, since it enables people to manage their own development by strengthening their self-management capacities and adapting the program to local conditions.
    • The program assists local leaders seeking to ensure ownership of popular initiatives implemented by the project as a whole, and works primarily to consolidate the process of land use and land tenure…strengthening regional representations in the social control of public policies in defense of their land, and good stewardship of their natural resources for economic, social, and environmental viability (x).
    • For this purpose they use participatory mapping, a methodology through which the communities sit together to draw a map of their region, and:

    a. Document the territory where they live;

    b. Gather all their information to construct geographic databases;

    c. Determine the most relevant problems;

    d. Visualize business opportunities in the region; and

    e. Use them as a basis to program both[This/the initiative]’s and the government’s developmental intervention in the region, and to manage their own lands, enable territorial regularization, and promote the sustainable use of local resources.

    The mapping serves as a “document of reality” that allows not only[This/the initiative] but also government bodies to better design their policies and programs in the region in different areas.

    • [This/the initiative]’s general coordinator, considers that the organization’s health mission is accomplished because it has not only achieved its objective of providing health access to the populations in the area it serves, but it has been escalated in the whole state thanks to the organization’s pragmatism and its acknowledgement that the State’s delivery and funding capacity is bigger. Therefore,[This/the initiative]’s role in the area of health has changed. Now it is focused on training communities for the management and social control of these social policies to monitor the State intervention’s quality, which has implied a great detachment effort for the organization.
    [This/the initiative] works in partnerships with the communities, creating or strengthening local organizations that are independent from[This/the initiative] itself, thus limiting its financial and administrative responsibility and ensuring their autonomy (x).

    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 participatory mapping as the departing point of all of its programs. This methodology not only enhances people’s ownership but also enables the description of people’s integral perspective about their community, its components, conflicts, resources, problems, needs, as well as the possible strategies to respond to all of them.
    • 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
    • An important feature of the program is that it is monitored by a Children’s Parliament. The children who are members of this forum, elected every two years by students attending the Night Schools, choose a Prime Minister who works with a student cabinet monitoring the work of the teachers, the functionality of the solar lanterns, the availability of safe drinking water, and the provision of teaching and learning materials. They also encourage children who have dropped out to attend school. The Prime Minister organizes monthly meetings in which the ministers raise any problems in the schools, ask adults for explanations, and prompt solutions. The cabinet is empowered to hire and fire teachers, and to expose cases of corruption. Some Night Schools’ teachers occasionally do not turn up for class, but children in the parliament help to create awareness of the potential problem so that it doesn’t happen very often. The forum clearly also serves to create awareness in the communities about the children’s points of view and needs. The general view is that although some problems might take some time to be solved, the system works. Moreover, “the concept of the Children’s Parliament is integral to the curriculum at the Night Schools. Children attending the Night Schools get to know more about political systems and structures by actually going through the learning process” (x).

    The families of the program’s children contribute to the program with cash or with donations of teaching aids or learning materials. Parents pay 10% of the cost of the health check-ups provided to the children. These contributions from the families are made in spite of the fact that families need their children’s contribution to the household income, and cannot easily afford to wait ten years for their children to start earning.

    At a community level, the families’ contribution is even larger. The communities generally provide the buildings for the Night Schools and other activities (such as the Children’s Parliament, fairs, workshops, and meetings), and contribute voluntarily with cash, food, time, or work to the realization of the program. The supervision and management of the program is largely done by Village Education Committees and the Children’s Parliament, both volunteer organizations run by the community. Ultimately, almost the only expenses that are not covered by the community are the teachers’ salaries and some costs for activities that they cannot bear.

    The extent of this community involvement is also evident in the number of people associated with an extensively decentralized social structure that is integrated with the[This/the initiative]’s initiatives in this domain: 150 full-time staff, 500 half-time staff, and around 5000 honorary members. This is both important and unusual, given that policy makers and policies are usually very far from implementation sites and beneficiaries.

    The degree of ownership that the communities have of the program means that it already bears the hallmarks of sustainability, given that development interventions are generally successful to the extent that they are appropriated by and integrated into the communities where they are targeted. Such interventions are at greater risk of failure when project funding ceases or when external project advisers are withdrawn, probably because community ‘take-up’ or ‘buy-in’ has been limited, rendering the project unsustainable without such community investment and appropriation.

    The mission of the[This/the initiative]’s Communications team is worth noting here. Through puppetry, a traditional means in this cultural context of sharing messages with the community, the[This/the initiative] discusses in an interactive manner some of the problems faced by the Night Schools, such as the need for girls’ attendance, the safety of the children, their relationship with their teachers, and so on. In a related vein, the Night Schools hold the annual Balmela Festival to provide feedback to their communities, to reinforce the value of education, and to thank them for their help and participation.

    The supervision and management of the program is largely done by Village Education Committees and the Children’s Parliament, both volunteer organizations run by the community

    • One of the main outcomes of UNESCO’s Expert Meeting on Intercultural Education (UNESCO, 2006a) were the Guidelines on Intercultural Education (UNESCO, 2006b), which set a general overview of the main principles with which to identify an intercultural education model: a model that builds upon the diverse systems of knowledge and experiences of the learners and their communities, and uses methods that are culturally appropriated, that are based on practical, participatory, and contextualized learning techniques; a model whose teachers are familiarized with practical, participatory, and contextualized teaching methods; a model in which there is strong interaction between the school and the community, both involved in the educational processes; and a model in which there is vast participation of learners, parents and other community members, teachers, and administrators in the school management, supervision and control, decision-making, planning and the implementation of education programs, and the development of curricula, and learning and teaching materials.[This/the initiative] is certainly a practical demonstration of such concepts, since it highlights the importance of co-management, relevant education, and strong context integration in order to ensure equal access to quality education.
    • La selección de proyectos actualmente la hacen los dueños y la idea es hacer un comité que tome la opinión de otros socios pero dejando la decisión en dueños.(ownership/constraint))
    • General Assembly takes place every two months among the partners. Attendance is not mandatory and the participation of representatives of the partners is accepted in cases where they cannot attend. At the end of these assemblies, demonstrative barter markets are mounted for people to learn to use the Tumin. Partners can prepare their participation in the Assembly through subgroup meetings as required. 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.
    • To attract members to the[This/the initiative] Project, the abovementioned coordination identifies people from the community who could enrich the diversity of products and services offered in the association’s directory (x),
    • That there is a magazine (called “Kgnosi” and coordinated by the Human Rights Network), which allows the exchange of information and promotion related to the[This/the initiative] Project’s Market. The journal’s contents are varied but cases of self-managed social organizations and reports on participants in the Project prevail. The back always includes a classified section to promote the businesses of the partners.
    • The Banking Trust Fund Scheme:
    • All financial resources obtained are deposited in the capital fund, the use of which is subject to control by a banking trust fund mechanism, which provides the project with credibility to encourage donations to contribute with those resources.Donors, foundations, governments, and international NGOs trying to support the so-called “developing countries” frequently face the same problem: corruption. Money frequently doesn’t arrive at its destination and stays in intermediary hands. It also happens that the money is distributed but the recipient organizations don’t have projects to offer, even if the money is there. With a Trust Fund, the money doesn’t have to go through the organization’s hands but rather goes through the Trust Fund’s hands which gives transparency to the money’s management, and certainty to both the organization and the donors.A Trust Fund is composed of 3 parts:
      1. The Trustee (the Bank) that is the one that generates the confidence (the trust), as it is the one that monitors how the money is being spent and ensures that it is used in the way and with the purpose agreed, by contract, between the beneficiaries and the donors.
      2. The Donors/Foundations that put money in the trust for a specific purpose.
      3. The Beneficiaries (the organization and/or local people).

      1, 2, and 3 elect an Executive Board (also called Technical Committee) that supervises/manages the Trust Fund on a daily basis and under the general supervision of the Trustee. It is formed by representatives from donors and beneficiaries.

      All rules applicable to the operation of the Trust are convened through a contract among 1, 2, and 3.

      All decisions (the designation of the Executing Board, the use of the money donated, etc.) are settled in that contract. All parts would like to advocate for their own interests but the ideal is to find a balance between them – respecting the beneficiary’s project objectives and the donor’s aims. The donors participate in the model because they accept it, which means that once they sign the contract they cannot make changes to it. That has to be clear in the original contract.

      The content of the contract is to establish that what is being settled is a Trust Fund, that is, a contract based on trust because there is someone (the bank) that looks after the contract’s compliance (e.g. “We agree to ensure that the obtained money will be dedicated to x and the bank will supervise that it is done that x way” ). When, during the implementation process, money has to be spent, the Executive Board decides how to use the money and the bank watches that the conditions are in line with what was agreed both on the contract and in the conditions to which the granting of the funds were subjected, that is, the original objective and destination of the funds.

    • Colaboraciones de mutuo beneficio con la población local:

    -[Esta/la iniciativa] provee las instalaciones para un Bazar Navideño que da oportunidad a comerciantes durante la temporada alta de vender sus productos — a quienes selecciona en función de garantizar la diversidad en la oferta de productos y con ello, el mayor atractivo del bazar. Aunque la renta que [Esta/la iniciativa] recibe de éstos sólo le alcanza para mantener el lugar y no le representa ninguna ganancia monetaria, le sirve para hacer su lugar de venta de árboles más atractivo a gente que viene de otras partes del país.

    • -Lo mismo sucede con el Mercado de comida navideño, en cuyo casi ni siquiera se le cobra renta a los vendedores, pues la mayoría son locales.-[Esta/la iniciativa] da permiso a pepenadores locales de recoger y aprovechar la basura, lo que le ayuda a su vez a mantener sus instalaciones limpias.-También da permiso a los pastores locales de traer sus borregos a pastar, lo que a [Esta/la iniciativa] le sirve para que éstos corten el pasto y le abonen.
    • This means that what[This/the initiative] offers to rural schools is, as its founder said during the interview, the “translation of complexity into manageable action” through technical assistance based on the organization’s experience and know-how on the adaptation of the model to different contexts, offering an educational solution to improve quality, effectiveness, equity, and sustainability of education.

    From[This/the initiative]’s approach, this can be summarized as: the systematization of the school’s processes to promote stakeholders’ ownership of it.

    • The Children’s Parliament is itself a model for the exchange of ideas. This could be the basis for the exchange of other valuables (knowledge, things… it would be necessary to define what, from a participatory assessment of what is in the region in terms of credits of trust, alienation. Namely: to go from parliamentarianism to economy with something that replaces money – or complements it – being careful not to replicate the criticized existing schemes).
    • A General Assembly takes place every two months among the partners. Attendance is not mandatory and the participation of representatives of the partners is accepted in cases where they cannot attend.
    • 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
    • Another strategy commonly used to this end is the establishment of schemes, such as the banking trust funds mentioned before, that assure that all stakeholders’ interests and responsibilities are negotiated, defined by contract, and supervised by an external actor — dealing concurrently with potential treats to self-sustainability that could emerge during the implementation process and keeping the communities stewardship of the programs by delimiting their rights and responsibilities.

    However, increasing people’s participation is difficult especially in contexts where communities are habituated to be passive beneficiaries of public programs and incentives, and/or where their people are divided by socio-economical or, for example, racial barriers.

    To stimulate it, both the[This/the initiative] and the[This/the initiative] are promoting the use of alternative currencies that aim at reducing their communities’ dependency on the peso-based national economy, which is not guaranteeing that resources flow into their localities, pushing their inhabitants to migrate or live in poverty. Currencies that are expected to boost the local economy, promoting the circulation of goods and services which either stopped being produced as a (most probably unintended) consequence of external subsidies, or had no buyers due to the absence of conventional money in the place. Ultimately, the intention of these alternative market systems is to create incentives and means for solidarity and participation among people in order to solve their communities’ problems: defining and addressing what they are lacking and what their members can provide for resolving them. Moreover, they have noted that these non-monetary inputs, which value is backed up by the same goods and services offered by the participant partners, constitute a significant proportion of the resources needed for the implementation of other development programs with the communities.

    • The[This/the initiative], on its side, designs and monitors all of its programs through participatory mapping techniques, by which the community members gather with the members of the organization to draw up, together, a map of their community. During the drawing process, a comprehensive diagnosis is made of local conditions, challenges, conflicts, problems, and priorities. The participatory mapping not only allows the communities to visualize themselves and their situation but to become agents of their own development, by enabling them to identify the resources they have available, define possible strategies to address their interests and needs, and distribute roles — which enhances the programs’ possibilities for sustainability.
    • Many initiatives have also managed to foster local participation and ownership by decentralizing the management of the programs and their budgets — which also ensures transparency and thus, fosters credibility and with it further participation. 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.). Another strategy commonly used to this end is the establishment of schemes, such as the banking trust funds mentioned before, that assure that all stakeholders’ interests and responsibilities are negotiated, defined by contract, and supervised by an external actor — dealing concurrently with potential treats to self-sustainability that could emerge during the implementation process and keeping the communities stewardship of the programs by delimiting their rights and responsibilities.
    • Gobernado hoy por un patronato,
    • all stakeholders participate in educational decisions, which motivates their ownership of the projects. The model has, for example, a children’s and a parents’ government that run the school.
    • 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).
    • The[This/the initiative] Project’s model is not intended to be scalable, but the local autonomous economy model that promotes solidarity and local production is. Retrieving experience from the[This/the initiative] Project and[This/the initiative]’s initiatives (or from any other of the many thousands of alternative currencies – economies – that today are being multiplied in the world) can become a tool to reinforce the self-sustainability in the implementation, and therefore the scope, of the programs undertaken by the[This/the initiative], by attacking the roots of dependency with a systemic, integral perspective
    • [This/the initiative] Project and [This/the initiative], both initiatives’ central objective is reducing their communities’ dependency on the peso-based national economy, which is not guaranteeing that resources flow into their localities, pushing their inhabitants to migrate or live in poverty. By capitalizing on and promoting social trust and solidarity, the final aim of their project is to enhance social cohesion as the basis for improving the lives of the communities, which made these two cases of great help for exploring the significance and means for self-sufficiency.

    The[This/the initiative] project operates in a rural area of Veracruz, Mexico, deeply affected by poverty and its cyclical causes and consequences, meaning: the dependence resulting from the lack of means of production (people work lands that are not theirs or sell foreign products to survive), the violence permeating the State in the context of the country’s war on drugs, social divisiveness based on class, ethnicity, etc. All this still persists, despite the extensive intervention in the area of various poverty reduction government programs. For that reason, and inspired by the[This/the initiative], which has operated from Mexico City since 1996 promoting alternative barter markets (of products and services), local university teachers in 2010 created an alternative market project popularly known as “The[This/the initiative] Project” as a tool to boost the local economy (promoting the circulation of goods which had no buyers due to the absence of conventional money in the place) and reduce external dependence (on resources and on the values from the printing and distribution of economic currency).

    The Tumin is a voucher that is complementary to the peso, the Mexican currency. It seeks to support family income serving as a means of facilitating the development of an alternative exchange dynamic: the barter system (which actually used to be the traditional exchange system in the region).

    Vouchers are used to exchange goods with value equal to (but not worth) 1 Mexican Peso ($ 0.08 USD approx.), backed up by the goods and services offered by its partners, which are listed in a directory so that its members can compromise to support each other. A coordinating team, which is rotatory (ensuring the equitable representation of and responsibilisation of all of the members) monitors and evaluates the project. It is made up of Commissions (education, communication, etc.) that are in charge of organizing various issues related to the project, ensuring its integrative character.

    The community contributes with volunteer work (e.g. the promoters), the payment and collection of Tumins, facilities for holding the assemblies, a space for Tumin’s House (the project’s head office), and 5% of the value of the partners’ products sold at the Tumin’s House to cover administrative costs. They also contribute with their participation in assemblies and other meetings, and with the payment of the Tumin house’s staff. This participation has enabled the project to sustain itself so far, despite the organizers’ complaint about the difficulties they have had in gaining the trust of the people and enhancing their solidarity and participation, which they claim to be the result, mainly, of people’s habituation to …

    • a model in which there is vast participation of learners, parents and other community members, teachers, and administrators in the school management, supervision and control, decision-making, planning and the implementation of education programs, and the development of curricula, and learning and teaching materials.[This/the initiative] is certainly a practical demonstration of such concepts, since it highlights the importance of co-management, relevant education, and strong context integration in order to ensure equal access to quality education.
    • An important feature of the program is that it is monitored by a Children’s Parliament. The children who are members of this forum, elected every two years by students attending the Night Schools, choose a Prime Minister who works with a student cabinet monitoring the work of the teachers, the functionality of the solar lanterns, the availability of safe drinking water, and the provision of teaching and learning materials. They also encourage children who have dropped out to attend school. The Prime Minister organizes monthly meetings in which the ministers raise any problems in the schools, ask adults for explanations, and prompt solutions. The cabinet is empowered to hire and fire teachers, and to expose cases of corruption. Some Night Schools’ teachers occasionally do not turn up for class, but children in the parliament help to create awareness of the potential problem so that it doesn’t happen very often. The forum clearly also serves to create awareness in the communities about the children’s points of view and needs. The general view is that although some problems might take some time to be solved, the system works. Moreover, “the concept of the Children’s Parliament is integral to the curriculum at the Night Schools. Children attending the Night Schools get to know more about political systems and structures by actually going through the learning process” (x).
    • El lugar se ubica en una región rural con más de 50% de la población en condición de pobreza y más del 15% en la de extrema pobreza según cifras del 2010. Aunque el objetivo de El [Esta/la iniciativa] no es transformar las condiciones socioeconómicas de este lugar, sus creadores están conscientes de que es importante evitar acaparar las oportunidades económicas de la zona. Por ello, y quizá también porque al negocio le resulta más redituable, no les ha interesado ser completamente auto-sustentables en alimentos, los cuales compran en buena parte de sus vecinos. En este mismo sentido se han hecho intentos por establecer colaboraciones con los habitantes de la localidad para beneficio mutuo, ofreciéndoles acceso a su clientela a para vender sus productos o servicios (paseos a caballo, donas, etc), lo cual a ellos conviene también por ser un atractivo para los visitantes. Estas colaboraciones al parecer no han prosperado. Además de aparentes barreras socio-culturales y de género (la dueña del[Esta/la iniciativa] es una mujer y esta es una región conservadora), no se sabe bien qué ha impedido el interés de la comunidad para colaborar con este proyecto.  Incluso en alguna ocasión una pobladora local se negó a recibirles un grupo de gallinas que le ofrecieron a condición de que después le vendieran a El [Esta/la iniciativa] sus productos.
    • They also work with local groups and parent committees to identify key local problems and possible solutions, all of them family oriented
    • 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.).

    • el evento Microbiome Mx, en donde se abrieron espacios para la discusión entre los participantes sobre los temas que están trabajando y sobre las posibilidades para su organización a futuro, con el objetivo de evitar la duplicación de esfuerzos y facilitar la colaboración (tales como un directorio, un sitio web para la transferencia de información relevante, el diseño de proyectos, la identificación de líneas posibles de investigación, etc).