Have you ever asked yourself why after more than 50 years of social and environmental development activities by many NGOs, governments and also companies worldwide, after incredible financial investments and after so many successful, but often short term impact measurements that often have really showing a positive effect, the poverty rate, the environmental situation and many other big issues in our world are still there and the overall facts and figures of all these challenges have not really improved, partly even worsened? Wether it is the overall climate changes, migration issues, poverty rates, violence, the mortality rate of children, overpopulation … and many other issues.
Have you ever questioned if the way of doing is the right one still knowing that the progress is not good enough or do we just do what we did because … maybe because we prefer to not dig too deep?
Is it just because of our existing processes and ways of acting that apparently are good enough for official standards, it’s it because of being hesitant to take too many risks as single players or simply not feeling responsible of going “beyond the own organizational borders”? Is it the short term thinking that makes us blind? And are we sure that we still have the luxury of endless resources and time to change?
For sure, it might need many different approaches to overcome the old way of doing. one – for sure- is to invest at least a part of our „vertical, community oriented efforts“ also more „horizontally“, while investing in raising more awareness on system thinking and systemic networking solutions also at the level of the organizations and stakeholders themselves.
We think it is time to change!
Launching the Social changers network Kenya
That’s why on 3rd Feb 2022 was a very special and memorable day for us. More than 20 stakeholders have come together in Eldoret, Kenya, to visualize, share and communicate how a systemic network approach among organizations of various backgrounds can leverage the impact and create more sustainability for the communities in need.
The partner organizations who came for this very important event, organized by the Making More Health Initiative, are from different organizational backgrounds (NGO, companies, foundations, social enterprises – national and international). In the past two years they all have been collaborating in various ways in running projects and activities with communities at the poverty line in Western Kenya and Nairobi to empower the needy people. The projects have targeted in parallel basic challenges of the same communities, while using similar formats and allowing local volunteers to gain a broader understanding so that more than 50 local community members have become trainers themselves and some of them have reached out to more than 5 counties already to make more health, economic development, infrastructure and education happen.
First results after two years and an important step to visualize a different and innovative way of engaging
There is a very impressive and longterm oriented win – felt by everyone who had been involved in our MMH community activation, even Academia, local authorities and employees. All changemakers, all involved organizations have learned from each other, trusted each other, created beyond their own organizational vision and mission statements while investing time and efforts also into forming a new „horizontal“ systemic change network to grow exponentially the „vertical“ former isolated impact on the needy communities. This network and aligned approach has proved to be very useful whether in our communities in Langas slums in Eldoret or in Mukuru slums in Nairobi, at Lake Victoria (Homabay), in our Western Kenya project area in Bungoma county, Uasin Gishu and neighbor counties or Njeru.
It’s time to share further what has happened and changed while using systemic methodologies and understanding. That’s why now in February 2022 the partners have come together to launch the System Changers Network Kenya (SCN Kenya).
“In a world where everything is interlinked, where the SDGs and the needs of the people needs to be seen in a more holistic way, it is not enough any more to come up with isolated solutions. The best solutions, e.g. offering solutions for better health or more education will not work if they are not developed in parallel. Or in other words: If a person at the poverty line gets more awareness about hygiene, but has short- AND longterm- wise no money to buy a piece of soap and has nothing to eat, the hygiene learning is not sustainable,” says Manuela Pastore from the Making More Health initiative.
The way how we have worked for many years in our own organizational “bubbles” , focusing on topics which are close to our organizational missions and where we are experts in, is not enough any more! All the efforts and also the way of how we measure the impact goes just in one direction. The vertical one. How MY project, My organization makes change happen on the ground with regard to the defined project. But:
Like in a soccer play the single engagement and impact of a player does not matter if the final result is not the right one.
We have developed and measured our SC network index Kenya for the first time. Based on several criteria of qualitative co- creation. There is for sure room for improvement, but we are also proud that we have achieved already nearly 50 % on a scale from 1 (very weak) to 5 ( long term, very close collaboration in more than three different engagement dimensions). Feel free to connect if you want to learn on how to do.
We have decided to make this different way of acting and Co- creation visible so that other partners might join our network or apply these methodologies to their social responsibilities activities.
What’s on the future agenda of SCN Kenya?
1. Developing and sharing a common understanding on how to make a systemic collaboration happen between the partners
2. Leveraging the knowledge on systemic thinking and systemic solutions.
3. Sharing Active experience with others and inviting even more partners to join.
4. Creating A win for more sustainable solutions
5. Developing a pattern that might be able to be scaled up to others regions
6. Concrete programs offered to organizations to experience the difference by themselves (innovation programs in Kenya, such as one week programs) are already in place. If you are interested, please contact.
7. Defining a common set of values, our partnering manifesto
8. Measuring the quality of systemic answers on an organizational level.
When do you start to invest in network building on a solutions maker/organisation level while aiming to grow exponentially the impact and the solutions which our world is so urgently in need of?