well grounded (adj)

1based on good evidence or reasons: soundly based; well founded.
2having a good training in or knowledge of a subject.

In the Central African Republic, Well Grounded, together with the Cameroonian organisation Forêts et Développement Rurale (FODER), supported the Central African organisation Centre pour l’Information Environnementale et le Développement Durable (CIEDD) to come up with a plan for how civil society groups could keep an eye on forestry activities in the country.

This involved training people from Central African civil society organisations to better understand some of the issues related to forest exploitation, followed by field trips to enable them to see some of these things for themselves and gather evidence.

This was in turn followed by work with other civil society groups to develop a strategy that made use of all this information. Central to the initiative was the collaboration between CIEDD, FODER and Well Grounded, as well as the way in which CIEDD made sure that as many other members of the Central African forest platform as possible were involved in the initiative.

Related countries: 

In the Republic of Congo, Well Grounded is working with Observatoire Congolais des Droits de l’Homme (OCDH), an organisation that monitors and campaigns on human rights in the Congo, including environmental rights and the rights of indigenous people. With Well Grounded’s support, and that of an external consultant group called Axyom, OCDH has been taking a look at how it is structured and how it works, and the organisation has been going through some fundamental reforms.

One issue that has been particularly important for OCDH’s members and staff to review is connected to ethics: as a human rights organisation, advocating dignity and equality of all people, they wanted to know whether they were putting those principles into practice within their own organisation and to explore how they behaved towards one another. In reflecting upon this, they agreed that although they try hard to live out certain common ethical principles, it could be helpful to write down what they consider these principles to be, and how the organisation can promote its values and combat what they consider to be negative ones.

They therefore drew up a “Code of Ethics and Good Conduct,” and everyone who now joins the organisation as a member or staff member signs up to this and commits to putting it into practice. OCDH hopes that this will help them regularly scrutinise their own performance and be confident that they are practicing what they preach.

Related countries: 

In the Republic of Congo, Well Grounded is working with a non-governmental organisation called Cercle d’Appui à la Gestion Durable des Forêts (CAGDF). CAGDF is a relatively young organisation that was set up by a team of people involved in independent forest monitoring in the Republic of Congo (ex. observing and reporting on the state of forest law enforcement and governance).

Until 2013, the work of independent monitoring in the country had been a joint project between two British non-governmental organisations – Resource Extraction Monitoring and Forests Monitor – and CAGDF. Now, however, CAGDF is going to become solely responsible for independent monitoring in the country.

Because the organisation was set up while it was involved in quite a structured joint project, one of the challenges it now faces is how to structure itself and make sure that all its team members know what their roles and responsibilities are, and how they relate to one another, as their work takes on new dimensions. Well Grounded has therefore been working with CAGDF to explore how it can restructure its team and identify what training and skills its staff members will need.

Related countries: 

In the Republic of Congo, Well Grounded is working with a non-governmental organisation called AZUR Développement (AZUR) on a project that is supporting Congolese civil society organisations to work with communities on forest issues.

Part of this work includes supporting 13 Congolese non-governmental organisations in developing and delivering small projects with communities. Within the context of these small projects, there is a whole process of coaching organisations through the steps for developing a project proposal, receiving and managing funding for the project, and then producing reports on how the funding has been used.

Well Grounded has worked with AZUR to help train and coach members of these 13 organisations on proposal writing, drawing up and managing a budget, and doing financial reports, as well as other aspects of project management.

Related countries: 

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, Well Grounded has been working with a national network of civil society organisations called Réseau de Ressources Naturelles (RRN).

Among other forms of support, Well Grounded participated, along with independent consultant Kim Brice, in an evaluation of RRN’s structure and function. RRN then used this evaluation to take a look at its governance and decision-making structures, and in December 2012 its General Assembly (the governing body of the network) adopted a series of important changes to its governance model in order to respond to key issues raised by the members through the evaluation.

This, together with a five-year strategic planning process facilitated by Well Grounded, means that RRN now has a more robust governance structure and a strategic plan against which the governing body can regularly review progress.

Related countries: 

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, Well Grounded has been working with a national network of organisations that works to promote and protect the rights of indigenous people, La Dynamique des Groupes des Peuples Autochtones (DGPA). DGPA has identified that one of its challenges is how to ensure that it is genuinely responding to the needs and priorities of the indigenous people with whom it is working and, at times, representing.

It is also keen to see far more direct involvement of indigenous people at every level in the organisation, particularly in relation to major decisions.

Well Grounded has thus been working with DGPA’s National Coordination team and some of its members to help them to develop skills and experience in participatory approaches to project and programme design and delivery, as well as co-designing consultation and consent processes.

Related countries: 

In Liberia, Well Grounded has worked with a national civil society organisation called the Sustainable Development Institute (SDI). SDI and other Liberian non-governmental organisations have done extraordinary work to persuade their government to adopt a Community Rights Law and to take seriously the potential for communities to manage their own forests.

The next step, after securing these rights in the law, was to enable communities to make the most of this opportunity and to actually start to manage and to make a living from their forests. SDI therefore asked Well Grounded to help it with planning and putting in place a small research project to explore different options for how communities could make a living from community forests.

The work included supporting the SDI team in developing research methodologies, putting them into practice and then developing proposals for future action based on the analysis and results of the research.

Related countries: 

In the Central African Republic, an informal coalition of civil society organisations came together when the government was negotiating a Voluntary Partnership Agreement with the European Union – a trade agreement that has a focus on improving forest governance. Another overlapping coalition came together around REDD – a mechanism to promote reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

With support from Well Grounded, these two overlapping coalitions came together and agreed on a common vision, thus forming a civil society platform focused on the sustainable management of natural resources.

They also agreed on how they were going to work together to promote good natural resource management and community rights in the country. The platform has chosen, very deliberately, to remain informal – but its vision statement brings the members together and helps them to make strategic decisions.