Skip to content

Shifting the Power in Action

The Hashtag #ShiftThePower went viral during the Global Summit on Community Philanthropy in 2016. The call to shift the power was not only intended to provoke but also inspire global organizations to not only build more trust, but also to give the power to local communities and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), in order to make decisions that affect their way of living. This way, the global community wants to decrease the power imbalance within the international development system.

Partnering directly with over 25 local CSOs, Right2Grow is shifting the power closer to the communities. This way we are not only able to conduct human-centered and locally-led research guiding in various engagements and programming, but we are additionally building mutual capacities. Local communities know best what they need, so they should be in the driver’s seat. By giving local communities the (project) lead, top-down programming is avoided and the communities receive trust to develop and nurture their own actions and decisions. Besides capacity building, this includes equal access to funds amongst other action taken in this direction. Paul Gabula, Right2Grow’s “Shift the Power” lead states: “One of the advantages of shifting the power is that it gives people the chance to wholeheartedly and actively participate and get involved in dialogues, discussions and actions. You basically give the people within the communities the chance to make their own choices and to be a part of all the processes that affect their lives, rather than just deciding for them on what and how to spend their resources, including funds. If you shift the power to the CSOs you simultaneously give them more flexibility on what to do with the funds. They do not have to plan as far ahead as they would have to with top-down programs and can use the funds and related resources for things that are important right at that moment. Essentially, shifting the power empowers communities and the people living in these communities.” Paul emphasized further: “Right2Grow is a partnership at global level which continues to reflect on the concept of shifting the power on a daily basis as part of our adaptive management approach. When you look at the inequalities that divide the global south and the global north, in terms of economics, education, opportunities, communication and more, we should go ahead and tackle those inequalities every day. We should be able to talk about the topic of shifting the power in an open, transparent manner, set realistic, sustainable milestones and actions of ways we can shift the power and monitor it over time, ensuring accountability.”

It is also important to note that there are different layers within the concept of “Shifting the Power”. Within Right2Grow there is, for instance, the community-led baseline research and hiring colleagues from the global south for leading roles. This way we are promoting access to the same conversation with a common understanding. Transparency is key.

Right2Grow is supported by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs as part of its policy framework on ‘Strengthening Civil Society’ to contribute to inclusive and sustainable societies. The "Power of Voices" movement wants to strengthen civil society organizations in order to reduce inequality and simultaneously empower local communities. This way men and women living in the global south ensure their voices are being heard by governments and decision-makers. Through strengthening the people locally, they are able to advocate for their own interests and create a more inclusive and sustainable society. Paul put it that way: “The Power of Voices is a phrase, implying that the voices of the vulnerable and marginalized are brought to the table. That those voices are continuously given the chance to be heard. So, shifting the power relatedly implies that there should be equal opportunities for everyone. And not only that but that there is also accountability of those who are in a power position.”

Back to overview