The problems posed by gender inequality, lack of access to vocational training for youth and a lack of psychosocial counselling for the disadvantaged are three crucial problems that prevent the full realization of human potential. These problems are especially prevalent in Southern countries. Key strategies for poverty alleviation should address the causes that hinder progress towards achieving gender equality, help youth achieve marketable skills and link them to the labour markets, and ensure that specific groups, such as the disabled and victims of violence, are treated with added care.
Towards a Solution
FK Norway is a grant management agency under the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, mandated to facilitate and support the exchange of personnel within the framework of institutional cooperation, entitled FK-Exchange. The key component of this initiative involves seconding professional staff from a home organization to work for a year with a host partner in another country, building on the assumption that they both have something to contribute and something to learn and take home.
The mutual embedding of professionals in each other’s organizations allows for sharing knowledge and exchanging skills and ideas. The human element also creates better understanding and trust between organizations. The knowledge gained is sustained in the form of improved working methods and other forms of permanent capacity-building, even after the exchange programme ends.
International networks of public agencies, private sector companies and civil society organizations are involved in the programme. The participants come from a wide range of professions relevant to the SDGs.
The FK Norway facilitation concept provides for planning and review meetings, home/ host partner training, and preparatory courses and debriefings for the participants who go abroad. More than half of the programme is based on South-South and triangular exchanges. At any given time, there are about 50 active South-South and triangular partnerships with approximately 250 professionals working abroad. Between 2001-18, some 160 South-South and triangular partner networks exchanged more than 3,000 people from Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
Examples of exchanges between countries of the South include the following:
The Forum of African Women Educationalists (FAWE) is a project that operates through national chapters in Africa to promote girls’ and women’s education. With support from Norway, it aims to build institutional capacities and competencies in the FAWE national chapters in Kenya, Malawi, the United Republic of Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia, by exchanging professional staff to help them gain more expertise in lobbying and advocacy. This is done in order to ensure knowledge- and skills-sharing, particularly in the fields of media and communications, lobbying and campaigning.
A total of 30 staff members with relevant skills have been exchanged among the FAWE network members, each remaining abroad with a sister organization for a year. This has enabled exchange of knowledge, skills and ideas on the operational level and improved the overall functioning of the FAWE network. It also included improving and strengthening advocacy and lobbying tools and improving resource mobilization among the participants.
The FUNDATED and CEDEHCA Exchange Project seeks to strengthen and improve psychosocial treatment in Guatemala and Nicaragua among communities where the following NGOs Fundación Asistencia Técnica para el Desarrollo (FUNDATE) in Guatemala and El Centro de Derechos Humanos, Ciudadanos y Autonómicos (CEDEHCA) in Nicaragua work. The programme targets two groups: children with disabilities in Guatemala and female victims of violence in Nicaragua. The project facilitates the strengthening of psychosocial treatment and medical skills by exchanging staff between the two organizations/countries. These exchanges allow for knowledge- and skills-sharing at the operational level as well as building the capacities of FUNDATED and CEDEHCA.
For FUNDATED, the project has strengthened a process aimed at improving knowledge, skills and strategies in working with children and youth with learning disabilities and youth at risk of substance abuse. CEDECHA has embarked on a programme of mobilizing children and youth in the communities to identify and attend to youngsters with learning disabilities and victims of violence at an early stage. It has invited psychologists and psychology students to participate to strengthen the work.
The exchanges also provide a longer-term effect through the motivational and inspirational aspect of working abroad for a year. Some evidence shows that when participants return home, they engage more actively in community and public life and increase their employment opportunities.
An innovative aspect of the programme is its completely horizontal design, whereby all parties in the network come to the table both to learn and contribute skills and knowledge. The recognition of the value of everyone’s knowledge creates greater ownership, participation and sustainability.
Sustainable Development Goal target(s): 4.7, 17.9
Countries/territories involved: Countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America
Supported by: FK-Norway
Implementing entities: Public agencies, private sector companies, NGOs and CSOs
Project status: Ongoing
Project period: 2001-Present
URL of the practice: www.fredskorpset.no
Name: Mr. Helge Espe, Senior Advisor, FK Norway
Name: Ms. Marit Bakken, Programme Director