Private initiatives for international development should organise

Lau Schulpen of CIDIN at the Radboud University in Nijmegen researched the effectiveness of Dutch "private initiatives" working in international development. Last week, his first findings were published, and created a little storm in the Dutch development sector (see e.g. the Dutch Trouw newspaper, copied by most other papers). I’m just returning from a presentation of his results, followed by a debate with Henny Helmich of NCDO, and Robert Wiggers of Wilde Ganzen: two organisations who fund a lot actvities of private initiatives. My take-away: private initiatives need a branch organisation, a kind of union.

FLOSSmanuals is go

Last Friday, Adam Hyde pressed the big green "go" button for flossmanuals.net: a place to read, write, and remix free manuals for free software. The Netherlands Media Art Institute provided the place and time as part of the opening of the Video Vortex exhibition (they call it their response to Web 2.0). Part of the exhibition is a workshop space for projects, available for a week, and flossmanuals.net is the first one there. Adam also announced a good Board of Advisors that’s just established, and a grant from the Digital Pioneers fund.

Facilitate or help?

I’ve tried to find projects that truely put the “local agenda” of the end user at the heart of their work. “Facilitator projects” that are not becoming a stakeholder, but a means to a (local) end. Giving people tools to improve their own situation in their own way, extra opportunities to be effective with their energy and ambitions.

Some of my favourites:

Track your MP (UK)

An interesting set of sites in the UK, volunteer-run, to keep track of Parliament. TheyWorkForYou lets you check who your MP is, based on postcode: voting record, topics they’re interested in, and "performance" like participation in debates, recent appearances, responsiveness…