02 / 1994
PEOPLE’S EMPOWERMENT - THE 1992 COLOMBO STATEMENT - 1
IRED was asked by 11 Asian countries to organise a Colloquy to discuss methods of using NGOs and POs in their countries to strengthen their civil society institutions to empower the poor.
Political power remains within the clutches of a few. Empowerment means transferring this power from existing centres and sharing it among the people.
Asian cultures are threatened by State powers, global market forces and foreign financed projects which uproot and displace people from their homelands. political leaders use diversity to create division.
The colloquy discussed ways and means of using POs and NGOs to create unity among the different people maintaining their cultural linguistic and political individually and resisting damaging external influences. NGOs must learn to communicate in the peoples local language in keeping with their cultural traditions and comprehension. NGOs working with POs must rediscover and reintegrate the cultural roots in each country.
NGOs are intermediary groups that support and aligh with POs. Peoples empowerment is undertaken by the people themselves. NGOs must catalyse and assist POs enlarge their space and create wider opportunities giving them right of choice and help them work towards their own empowerment. They must also strengthen the POs capabilities their insitutions and specific skills. The relationship between NGOs and POs is dynamic not static. POs must forge strengthen through their unity and numbers and develop networks with other NGOs.
They must also be able to overcome linguistic and cultural barriers forging unity while maintaining diversity and build up support for their struggles from other sectors. They must exchange with each other what is good and incorporate values that are relevant and useful to their own cultures. Culture must be seen as the means and context of empowerment not an obstacle to development.
NGOs must set definite objectives and mechanisms to promote peoples empowerment recognise and consciously try to reduce existing socio-cultural gaps between themselves and POs. They must adopt simpler organisational and personal lifestyles to avoid alienating themselves from the very people whom they hope to serve. They must communicate more simply and provide for translations in their communications with Pos.
Society itself should be seen as the broader framework within which Governments and POs/NGOs function. Society is more important than the state for it draws its empowerment from the people.
The colloquy drew up the Colombo Statement outlining specific ways in which it would be possible to achieve these goals.
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