People, organisations and positive change: an occasional blog series

Well Grounded is publishing a series of blog posts that tells the stories of people and organisations who have spoken out, who have found new ways to solve old problems and who have stuck at it in impossible circumstances in the pursuit of social and environmental justice. Be inspired!

In the United States at the moment, a leader is sat in the White House signing executive orders that close the doors of the world’s richest country to refugees on the basis of nationality and religion and that deny services to women all over the world. The president has not divested himself of the multiple businesses that he has, a clear conflict of interest, and his only token gesture to doing so involved him passing some of his business to his own children. Journalists documenting protests have been arrested and the government of the world’s second biggest greenhouse gas emitter is busy denying that climate change is a problem. Across the Atlantic, in several European countries, incidents of intolerance and racism are on the increase.

For people living in countries in the Congo Basin, none of these phenomena are new or surprising: they have been experiencing this type of situation at home for years and have long been on the receiving end of foreign policies and trade deals that don’t have ordinary African people at their heart. But people have also been finding creative ways to resist and challenge injustices.

For Well Grounded, whose team is made up of people from Africa, Europe and North America, the shocks and challenges of political events in Europe and the United States is making us all think hard about what we need to do as individuals in response. But it is also making us take a look at what we do as an organisation and what civil society organisations (CSOs) can and should do in such circumstances.

There is plenty that CSOs working anywhere in the world can do:

  • Document and bear witness to what is going on
  • Call it out when they identify injustice
  • Do research and analysis and share that knowledge and information with others
  • Come up with creative proposals and new ideas
  • Offer technical expertise to the people that need and want it
  • Campaign and lobby against injustice and for positive solutions
  • Most importantly: support communities, marginalised people and people who are frequently denied a voice in finding, opening and using spaces where they can speak out and take action directly themselves

To do this, people need persistence and courage: speaking out is not easy and there are powerful interests ranged against them. But I have witnessed examples of all of the above throughout the Congo Basin and beyond and I am proud and humbled to know such inspirational people. Over the next weeks and months, Well Grounded will be publishing a series of blog posts that tells some of these stories, of people and organisations who have spoken out, who have found new ways to solve old problems and who have stuck at it in impossible circumstances. We hope that this occasional series can offer everyone else reading this a bit of hope in these dark times. The next blog post in this series will tell the story of a network in the Democratic Republic of Congo that has played almost all of the roles listed above.

Do you have a story to share on our blog? Get in touch! Please write to: to share your ideas.

About the author

Cath Long

Cath has been with Well Grounded since June 2010: she is one of the founder members. Her formal training was in Ecology and Environmental Science. She has worked for many years with communities, civil society groups, and local authorities and national governments on community management of natural resources. She has skills and experience in developing and managing projects, programmes and organisations, is a successful fundraiser, and has strong skills in training and facilitation. She has been working in the Congo Basin since 2002 and also has experience in East, Southern and West Africa, Latin America and Europe.