Participation and Co-Governance

#Daretocare lesson is an opportunity to study, educate and to introduce fresh ideas into citizenship. Let’s discover the importance and innovation of two very necessary concepts in our times: participation and co-governance.

Melchior Nsavyimana, from Burundi, will help us.
He’s currently performance management and donor’s relation officer for the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service in South Sudan.

1- Considering the historical and political context of African countries, would you say that trust towards governments and citizen participation has changed at all? Has it increased, maintained or decreased? How would you evaluate it?

It is a wonderful and exciting question I do agree that participation is a sign of a mature democracy and in the last year the level of participation has increased in different countries of the continent. However, in my understanding, the big question is not to participate but how to participate. That is the big question.
Study realized by Buchard, S. (2020) shows that in the last two decades about 60% of elections in Africa experienced some form of electoral violence. In my understanding, this trend not only poses a threat to peace and security on the continent, but also risks undermining the long-term sustainability of the democracy process. At the Centre of those violent encounters are the African youth. Many societies in contemporary Africa are now coming to terms with the fact that youth questions, if not fully addressed today, are a ticking time bomb ready to explode. This concern is neither unfounded nor misplaced, not just because more than two-thirds of the continent’s population are under 35 years.
You will see that majority of young people their participation can make progress or regress that is the reality. Therefore, the real question, in my understanding is no longer to participate, but how young people can participate for an African development. That question has also been fundamental for my life. Really what can be a kind/good participation for our democracy process?
I decided to participate personally starting by my studies. The idea is to bring about a cultural transformation as a source of a new style of leadership by targeting our fellow African students to provide them with holistic formation necessary for integral co-leadership. To reach this aim, we created a network with around 25 lecturers and professors from the part of Africa called: East African communities and asked professors coming from around the world, who committed themselves to contribute in making these dreams come to reality. As initiators, and I’m one of those initiators, we created for this sake a network of associations with successful experience in youth empowerment and academic leadership training and we are still proposing a set of activities at different levels for young leaders, at regional level, at national level and at a personal level, it’s not just, you know, a theoretical training but need to touch also their personality, to change their personality. From this experience it became clear that for me that the concept co-governance is more than ever the key of success for today. If you want a new Africa, that should be where to start.

2- The Individualistic “I”, versus, the supportive “we” Solidarity. So my question is: Living in an emergency situation, a big one, like the pandemic, is it possible to experience real solidarity among peoples?

I think that the new pandemic has shown us how solidarity is the key of our leadership. Based on my own experience in South Sudan, the same logic guides the humanitarian aid in the country even before the COVID-19 outbreak. It is good to understand that we are talking about the biggest humanitarian emergencies in the world. South Sudan. This has brought solidarity of different actors from western, from southern and from Asia, even African solidarity, you will see African union, and you will see a regional organization participating in that response. It is not enough to have that solidarity in my understanding but what is interesting is the coordination in the response. I think that the world can learn something from South Sudan experience.
It is no longer the time where everyone goes with his own program and own response. Needs are well identified by main stakeholders starting with beneficiaries and they are the government of South Sudan. A forum for humanitarian response meets every week and I’m very happy to be a member of that forum. I’m always impressed by the coordination and spirit which characterize each meeting. That for me is a new and a good experience. It shows also how co-governance is fundamental in such response. From local NGOs, International NGOs, UN agencies, etc. You will see how the coordination is no longer one who decides but to learn how to decide it together.
We come back again to co-governance or co-leadership. No matter how many you are. From my experience, you can be 5 as you can start with 20 people or more, the number does not matter. What is fundamental is to start together and coordinate your action. At micro level, it is a kind of co-governance.
I have learnt some lessons:
1. To be patient and don’t give up even when things are not working as you planned
2. Start to do something at your level without waiting outside contribution.
3. Involve beneficiaries.
4. And we are concluding now this first cycle means after 3 years. And I am telling you the 100 students who had been trained. I want you to meet them to see how committed, how determined. You should see how those students they became leaders they organize national training, how do we involve their contribution. So in my understanding, it is not difficult to start an initiative. We have learned from Dare to care what a leadership is. Now it is time to start with a small step, with a small group. And from there you will see shining, and tomorrow maybe we have 100 or 200. Thank you.
Elaborated by Rima Saikali
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