Blog from new CIB staff member Valentine Lecluse
This October, for the first time ever I attended the annual Integrity Action Partner Community Integrity Building (CIB) workshop, held this year in Kenya. 13 different organisations based in 9 different countries, including Afghanistan, Liberia and Nepal, were gathered to share their experiences, challenges and successes implementing CIB over the last year.
As a new member of the CIB team at Integrity Action, attending the workshop was a fantastic opportunity for me to really understand how our partners work, both as individual organisations as well as collectively as part of our network. With partners who work from as far and wide as West Africa, Liberia and Sierra Leone, to the opposite end of the world in Timor Leste, there was a lot to take on board!
The first day focused on recapping the last 12 months since last year’s CIB workshop in Kathmandu, Nepal. Our partners made presentations on the different projects they had been working on, revealed their great achievements, but also their main challenges. I was hugely impressed and inspired to see how committed and innovative our partners are operating amongst very challenging, often insecure and unpredictable circumstances. For example, FOCHI, our partner in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is facing upcoming elections, making their future uncertain due the potential for violence and chaos around the election. In addition, our partners in Nepal have devoted considerable efforts to dealing with the effects of the devastating earthquakes that struck Nepal last year.
Another key focus of the workshop was looking forward over the next 12 months. Integrity Action introduced the new strategy for 2017 which included exploring potential paths towards sustainability and scalability. In addition, for the first time ever we introduced our newly created gender and social inclusion strategy. These new directions were really well received by all our partners, whose work has all contributed towards or new strategic focus. We explored key strategic directions to achieve our goals and we shared our challenges and best practices to face risks. We also talked about us as a network and explored different possibilities to strengthen it and improve our communication.
I was delighted to observe that all our partners were keen on exercising greater responsibility for managing our network. They also shared the same desire to interact more directly amongst themselves. Amongst the different ideas to improve our network, we explored the possibility of creating a joint conversation on Whats’App. Our partner in DRC also mentioned that they would like to visit our partners in Nepal to know more about their keys of success for some of their projects.
I found the sessions about Integrity Clubs particularly intriguing. Integrity Clubs are formed in schools in order to educate students about integrity matters. Students are then trained to monitor vital service delivery projects which matter to their communities. Integrity Action launched Integrity Clubs two years ago. The main objective is to train young people to make sustainable change in the future.
Today, about 2,000 students amongst our network have been trained by our partners and are monitoring projects. They will inspire thousands of other young people. During this session, I thought about the snowball effect theory. By training some students, our partners raise awareness on how to work for a better future. Through their work our partners are creating young integrity champions who are inspiring their peers in their respective schools. In turn, other young people will later inspire their peers to become monitors.
The commitment from our partners was extremely inspiring. This group of hard working people, separated by continents, reminded me of how working together can make a big difference, and how extremely proud I am to be part of this inspiration network of diverse organisations dedicated to building integrity to improve the lives of their fellow citizens. 2017 promises to be an exciting year and I look forward to working with you to turn all these projects and ideas into actions.