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The Colombo Statement on People’s Empowerment in Asia - 2


02 / 1994


IRED organised a colloquy for 11 Asian countries to discuss methods of using NGOs and POs in their countries to strengthen their civil society institutions to empower the poor.

After several days of discussion the4 colloquy drew up the Colombo Statement given below.

1. Protect and promote Asian Cultures and Languages.

2. Strengthen PO-NGO relationships.

3. Promote a critical partnership between Governments and POs/NGOs.

4. Promte a new principled partnership with donors.

5. Build peoples access to information and communication.

6. Build and strengthen networking for peoples empowerment.

7. Promote peoples institution building and management.

8. Promote savings/credit/rural banking and small enterprise development as tools for peoples empowerment.

9. Promote peoples health and education

10. Strengthen advocacy and lobbying.

Expanding on these points

i. It was felt that the local languages and cultures protected their human richness and unity against outside manipulation and domination providing Asiansn with sustenance meaning and hope especially to the poor. POs/NGOs should preserve their individuality resisting conditions imposed by external funding and foreign donor agencies. NGOs should speak in the peoples own language simply and sensitively.

ii. Intermediary groups (NGOs)should help peoples groups (POs)to work towards their own empowerment strengthening them institutionally and in specific skills. The NGO/PO relation may change often. NGOs must be accountable to the people and helps POs express their needs directly at higher levels.

iii. NGOs/POs must hold more localized dialogue and develop informed opinions, hold continuous dialogues with Governments and demand mutual accountability and develop self monitoring systems. They should also do comparative studies with nearby countries to share experiences.

iv. Donors need to break away from donor dependence for narrow programme based funding systems and discuss alternative financing schemes and initiate dialogue between decision makers and donor finance insitutions with collective representatives of POs/NGOs/Network for a consensus on a shared common vision, pooling and linking of common resources like funds skills and time, strengthen local capital through donor grants with capital funds, endowment funds, guarantee funds, joint venture capital, Insurance and getting business sector support to market credit experitse and technology and increase solidarity among individuals and institutions of the South.

v. Help get 2 way information for the needy poor exchange knowledge data and opinions and set up information centres for socially relevant information for grassroot levels in understandable language.

vi.Strengthen North South networks through the authentic voices of the people and help in national and international lobbying.

vii. IRED promoted a development intervention PRDA. Similarly it should help other Asian countires in institution building and management and strengthen people making them autonomous independent and arrange exchange of management training and study visits in the region.

viii. should use village managed savings and credit societies monies for consumption and welfare and income generation and development oriented village activities programmes to advise and could help district level marketing programmes to advise and form dissemination centres and advise governments to help small enterprises by buying their supplies from small entrepreneurs help access export opportunities get better prices and access to foreign markets for the South.

ix. Respect local traditional learning processes access education and preventive primary health care and life related practical education.

x. Expose decision makers to grassroots level programmes and help group leaders participate at the highest levels.

Key words

civil society, NGO

, Sri Lanka, Colombo


The Colombo Statement endeavour to help the 11 Asian nations work out common plans to assist in methods to ensure that resources obtained would be used in a manner that would reach the poorest and enable them to get what they really need in keeping with their traditions and environment.


NGO-PO Colloquy on "People’s Empowerment in Asia : Myth or reality"’ on 7-10 July 1992, Colombo, Sri Lanka


Colloquium, conference, seminar,… report

DEVELOPMENT SUPPORT SERVICES OF THE IRED PARTNERS IN ASIA, Support Services for Development (pvt)ltd. Sri Lanka, 1992/07

IRED Asie (Development Support Service) - 562/3 Nawala Road - Rajagiriya - Sri Lanka Tel : 94 1 695 481 - Fax : 94 1 - 688 368

legal mentions