Including the excluded
At the heart of Praxis UK are its core programmes. These core programmes respond to the expressed needs of excluded groups who wish to have a greater say in decisions which affect their lives. As a development NGO originating from the South but based in the North, in all of our programmes we try and create platforms for people from the South to exchange their concerns, aspirations and ideas with people from the North.
Our current core projects address what we consider to be some of the major themes where power, rights and participation inequalities are most evident today:
River Voices : Set up by Praxis UK, River Voices is a partnership project between international organisations concerned about the sustainable development of rivers, and development organisations supporting vulnerable people in basins. Its overall aim is the sustainable and equitable development of the rivers worldwide.
Climate change : For many in the urban north, climate change is a buzz word which has yet to have any tangible impact on daily lives, with few people taking action. But for poor people in the South, especially those whose agrarian livelihoods are entirely dependant on the weather, climate change is a real and present threat which they are already attempting to cope with now.
The north is the main contributor to climate change in the south, and the most able to make a significant impact on it. But it has yet to do so. So it is, that the South is currently suffering the consequences, yet least able to voice its concerns . The local climate adaptation strategies people in the South are developing will not alone solve the problem. Meaningful and equal dialogue between the people of the North and South leading to effective policies informed and monitored by those most affected, are also required.
What is Praxis UK doing?
In order to help address this, Praxis UK is managing the River Voices Programme Set up by Praxis UK, River Voices is a partnership project between international organisations concerned about the sustainable development of rivers, and development organisations supporting vulnerable people in basins. Its overall aim is the sustainable and equitable development of the rivers worldwide.
It will do this through building the capacity of the most vulnerable communities in river basins to articulate their hopes and fears for the future, and help them to inform local and regional policies regarding their future development.
Mapping Rivers: To compliment these development projects we are also carrying out a programme of global awareness raising by mapping rivers. Through this we are raising awareness not just of the plight of the most disadvantaged people in the world, but also how people globally can help make a difference to the development of their own rivers, and rivers throughout the world.
River Voices Projects
River Voices has two projects:
The Voice of the Nile, Africa: The overall goal of this project is to contribute to the sustainable development of river basins throughout the world, through the example of the world’s longest river— the Nile.
The Voice of the Kosi, India: was a pre-election people’s campaign in 2009 to develop a ‘Peoples Manifesto’ for the Kosi Basin. This also included a development awareness element, in the form of an expedition by scouts, with the aim of raising awareness on the importance of rivers for tackling global poverty.
Add your River’s Voice
Whether you are an individual or an organisation, there are a whole raft of ways in which you can take part and benefit from the River Voices programme. Find out how
HIV/AIDS - Including the excluded : AIDS is the leading cause of death in Africa and the fourth-leading cause of death worldwide. Around 40 million people worldwide are infected with HIV, 95% of whom live in developing countries. HIV/AIDS has killed more than 20 million people worldwide with 3.1 million people dying of AIDS-related causes in 2004 alone. HIV is also on the rise again in the UK.
But HIV is not simply a global disease epidemic – HIV is also an epidemic of inequality, discrimination and a lack of political leadership. The most vulnerable to the affects of HIV and AIDS are already those that are most disempowered and excluded in a society: women, young and old people, men who have sex with men, people living with HIV (PLHIV) and the poor.
Despite policies and statements for the more meaningful inclusion of civil society and PLHIV in decisions which affect them, the common reality is that their voice is often tolerated rather than accepted, invited rather than leading.
What is Praxis UK doing?
To help address this, Praxis UK is currently developing practical methodologies and guidelines on how PLHIV can be actively and influentially involved in the formulation, design and implementation of national HIV policies and programmes.
Fair trade : Fair trade for development. Fair trade isn’t just about better prices for producers in the South, it is also about creating decent working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade for the developing world. Through capacity building, gender equity, creating safe working conditions and environmental protection fair trade enables producers to improve their position and have more control over their lives for equitable and sustainable development.
Making south-south trade fair. By requiring companies to pay sustainable prices (which must never fall lower than the market price), fair trade addresses the injustices of conventional trade, which traditionally discriminates against the poorest, weakest producers. Fair trade is most often associated as creating fairer commercial relations between producers in the South and consumers in the North. But the principles of fair trade is equally applicable to South-South trade in which richer Southern countries often set up un fair trade practices with poorer Southern countries.
What is Praxis UK doing?
In order to promote fair trade Praxis is currently developing a process of fair south-south trade in Afghanistan.
Facilitating a Process of Fair South-South Trade of Nuts in Afghanistan
Praxis worked in Afghanistan between 2003 and 2005, to support the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Afghanistan through capacity building of national, regional, and local government, and of local and international organisations in community development. It has a continued commitment in supporting sustainable and equitable development and stability in Afghanistan and is keen to create an alterative to the common Afghan charity model of handouts, which only increase dependency on aid, create resentment in non-conflict affected regions and reduce sustainability.
Having worked closely with communities in various parts of Afghanistan, Praxis believes that an ideal way to do this is to optimally use locally available resources and skills. Afghanistan produces some of the world’s finest nuts, but current terms between the Afghan producers and consumers in Pakistan and India, are far from fair. So for Praxis UK to facilitate a fair trade process for Afghan nuts, may help to address some of Afghanistan’s development issues in a sustainable way.
Praxis UK has therefore teamed up with the International Nut Corporation to assess the viability of setting up a fair trade process which
Offers self-reliance and an equitable and sustainable alternative to the current paradigms of charity and handouts.
Significantly improves the management and business skills of communities.
Increases transparency and accountability in management and commercial relations
Offers payment of a fair price
Increases gender equity
Ensures safe working conditions
Ensures environmental protection
Citizen participation – addressing democratic deficits : Billions still find themselves excluded from decisions that affect their lives. This, despite the mainstreaming of public involvement to achieve sustainable development. For most, the idea of being a citizen with rights and an influential voice to demand and exercise those rights, is far from being a reality.
Even in the north, there is a democratic deficit. In countries where people are used to a wealth of choice in their lives, a lack of choice and influence in political decisions has led to peoples trust in politicians has being weakened. The common experience of people is that if they are consulted, they are often not listened to. If they are listened to, they are not heard. If their voices are heard, then they are rarely acted upon. And if they are asked to participate, it is often on others terms, and about issues which may not be their priority.
Furthermore, it seems that it is precisely those issues which produce and reproduce this lack of voice — inequality, entrenched power relations and prejudices — that are the issues which people are least likely to be able to have a say in changing.
What is Praxis UK doing?
Praxis UK believes that the south has much to share with the North with regards to citizen participation. Methodologies such as participatory budgeting and audits, participatory poverty assessments all have their roots in the South and are equally applicable to the North. Both the North and South are seeing the decentralisation of governance and both have much to share in this process. Praxis UK, along with the Democracy School is currently helping to develop a joint learning and exchange programme on deliberative democracy between councillors in London and councillors in Bengal and Bangladesh.