|Essays on Food, Hunger, Nutrition, Primary Health Care and Development (AVIVA, 480 p.)|
|19. Activism to Face World Hunger: Exploring New Needed Commitments|
The continuous organization of constituencies is the cornerstone of lasting, positive changes to combat hunger and malnutrition it its roots. The following are steps I think should be followed consecutively in organizing community work: (adapted from H. Bantje)
Participation in development work can and has become an empty catchword and often ends up being a type of "resentful, controlled participation". What participation should really mean is democratization/decentralization of the decision making process, opening the avenues for the people to exercise the right to choose and to take collective initiatives stemming from self-deliberation and leading to self-management of the tasks to be initiated. Organization has an instructional role per se when linked to organized activity. We have to reject a passive rule for people: nut only be indifferent about it As Paulo Freire noted: people have to be present at the historical process as thinking activists, not maneuvered by the establishment to think for them.
2. Raising political consciousness:
In working with people, one should always ask why things are the way they are-specifically avoiding to provide answers...; this process exposes contradictions. politicizes the issues and also brings out a strong sense of collective identity in people. Additionally, it cultivates any existing spark of awareness into workable concrete actions at the same time providing the pertinent rallying points for such action.
Note: Completion of this step makes the process (and you) vulnerable to repression by local authorities...
Mobilization is also called "practical politics" although it may initially involve distinctly non-political issues and actions.
Mobilization can be: for self-help, for lobbying, or for placing demands.
One should start with small, attainable goals, i.e. organizing unpretentious local voluntary work, posing relevant questions to or making specific demands from authorities This by itself is a giant step forward.
Mobilization ultimately leads to a process of empowerment and some degree of control of the situation(s) through building confidence in the ability to act and make a real measurable or observable difference.
The existing discontent and anger can be mobilized creatively and can be used as a force to start proposing some structural changes.
Note: Attainment of this step is even more. vulnerable to repressive actions.
4. Consolidation of movements:
a) Networking: Working together and organizing and coordinating work with others is of paramount Importance in the process of empowerment. It helps create necessary support systems. Networking can also link together in coalitions a number of dispersed, existing single issue constituencies, be it around limited or more general strategic or tactical objectives and he it temporarily or permanently. This facet of organization can be particularly relevant and positive in the First World, where single-issue constituencies have become more vocal and visible (i.e., environment, women's rights, consumer rights, antinuclear, etc.). b) Solidarity work: Supporting, positive attempts at change by others-i.e. nationally or internationally as for example in Nicaragua or Southern Africa-is also vitally important.