Wednesday, May 31, 2006

International Newsletter on Sustainable Local Development
Newsletter #29
June 1, 2006


Message from the Editorial Team

The turning point of the Agri-Aqua Development Coalition - Mindanao
Community Economic Development (CED) in the Philippines

A new vision of the economy: reinventing the territorial economy to make it work more economically!
Vision of an elected local French official


Message from the Editorial Team

The two articles which are presented may appear very dissimilar, from the great poverty of the insular populations of Philippines to the devitalisation of the rural Languedocian areas of southern France. And yet, each in their own manner testifies to the same fact: the need for organizing oneself to regain autonomy on the economic development of the territories where one lives, where one produces and works, and where one votes.

They start from the reality of the activities and the potentials of their respective territories. They are based on the taking charge of their future by the communities, on the democratic debate, on the involvement of the local councillor, and on the onus that everyone has the power over his or her life’s situation. These two experiences call into question the dominating economic model (the paradigm?) which is supposed to generate the wealth and the well-being of all!

Editorial Team
Francisco Botelho
Yvon Poirier
Martine Théveniaut


The turning point of the Agri-Aqua Development Coalition - Mindanao
Community Economic Development (CED) in the Philippines

Founded in 1994 by 120 people’s organizations (PO’s) and cooperatives on the island of Mindanao, the Agri-Aqua Development Coalition (AADC) stems from the Congress for a People's Agrarian Reform. Its objective is to build a peasant’s coalition relying on principles of decision-making by consensus, collective claim-making and unity based on solidarity. Since 2002, AADC has decided that its community economic development (CED) will be the cornerstone program of its community organization in response to the decline in agricultural and fishing revenues in the southern Philippines. In effect, the deterioration of agricultural and fishing revenues further increases the poverty of local populations. Since 2002, AADC orchestrates the interaction of local government units (LGU), people's organizations (PO's) organized into local coalitions (LC's) and the private sector to plan and take action on the most sustainable ways to develop local economy to raise the quality of life of the rural poor and to enhance social cohesion at the community level.

At the core of the CED program is Community Enterprise Organizing (CEO). It prepares the organized poor to get involved in a meaningful way in local economic development and to claim its rightful share in the fruits of the local economy's growth. The CEO process has four phases, divided as follows:
• The social preparation of local people’s organizations because the passing to enterprise development is a change of paradigm.
• The cooperative re-organization for more professional effectiveness in economic activities.
• The development of Business Planning and Operationalization: to identify business opportunities, to put them into action, in partnership with LGU’s.
• Networking and the partnership between the cooperative and the business sector is the last step of the process. As much as possible, contracts are negotiated between the cooperative and the transformation entity or the marketplace. For example, a cooperative made up of rubber producers, obtained a price definitely superior than each producer individually. With Internet, the cooperative is able to know world prices and the negotiation of the prices is thus better balanced.

“Current research confirms that in economically progressive rural areas, three things are evident — a culture of participation in local organizations, locally-owned enterprises on the rise and the development of a middle class base. CEO sets in motion cooperatives of the poor and promotes entrepreneurship as a strategy for local economic growth.”

AADC summarizes the meaning of its action: “the purpose of CEO is to increase the financial, human and social assets of the poor so that they can make it on their own in the mainstream. Market forces alone cannot be relied upon to bring about economic development that benefits the poor. Social forces come into play through social capital building. As an intermediary organization, AADC not only facilitates resource linkages for the businesses of agricultural cooperatives to grow. More importantly, AADC builds deep solidarity relationships among peoples within communities, giving rise to the development of communities, and not simply development in communities. Where such is the case, the over-all social well-being of the people, including the poor, is achieved…

Land to the tiller. Municipal waters exclusively for marginal fishermen. Clean and green environment for the next generations. Representation for the under-represented. Self-determination for indigenous peoples. Equal opportunities for men and women…
Agri-Aqua's daily grind in the communities over the years are nourished by deep seated beliefs.
1. Power is derived from solidarity and mutual trust among its members.
2. Collective action brings a community closer to its developmental goals.
3. Participation is an exercise of people empowerment.
4. Generosity is a sustaining path towards righteousness and purity.
Above all these, the supreme values of love and faith, whose influences alleviate the burdens of poverty.”

For further information contact: (English only)
By Yvon Poirier

A new vision of the economy: reinventing the territorial economy to make it work more economically!
Vision of an elected local French official

Eric Andrieu is the mayor of Villerouge-Termenès, a small village of Corbières, situated in the southern part of the department of Aude (France), the president of Pays Corbières Minervois, and an elected member with the regional Council. This local development militant is also president of the UNADEL (National Union of Actors and Structures of Local Development).

He writes that thirty years of local development in France has taught that interventionism has little success just by its’ simple transfer onto another territory, without serious reflection. The investment of public funds has allowed some spectacular communication events at the moment of inaugurations, without really changing the economic dynamics of a territory.

To speak about social and/or solidarity economy, residential economy, economy of public expenditure, the impact of services to the public on the dynamism of the territories, the territorial features, the weight of associations or agriculture seems heterodox, even not very serious. The economy, hammered at great lengths in newspapers, debates, is industry; the CAC 40 (Index of the Paris Stock Market), globalization and the migration of industries or populations, owners and workers, Marxism and liberalism, are two faces of the same coin. However, when a territorial elected official lowers his eyes and looks at his territory, he discovers the plethora of companies without paid employees, craftsmen and liberal professions, he realizes that a good number of his citizens work in the public services, either in territorial services or the health sector, he realizes that the living area he supports, the hospitality suite which he contributes to renovate, have a direct economic impact which is much more obvious than the one of the serious economy. The local elected official is faced with a paradox: either he realizes that there is no economy on his territory, or he realizes that the economy in his territory is not the one traditionally recognized! Thus to act on the economy closest to the territories, it may be above all to encourage and help to develop the economy which is really present.

At a time when the State concentrates on its prerogatives (without having really redefined them): redeploying public services to the public, at the territorial level close to where the person lives, can be a potential for employment, determining a new organization of non-marketable services may be a source of savings and economy. The elected officials of the general and regional councils can play an important role as long as they integrate well their modest and central function of accompaniment the policies of development. Where the local elected official has difficulty negotiating directly with the directors of decentralized services of the State, the presidents of the general or regional councils can get results, on condition that they are mandated by the elected officials of the territorial level.

How does one stabilize the level of public intervention, while imagining a more efficient organization? One needs a participative territorial diagnosis, a willingness of agents and local councillors, but also the support, the backing of the general or regional councils, according to the defined themes. The social action, health, training, and culture are areas where departments and regions have major roles and which will certainly expand. It is necessary to rehabilitate public expenditure and at the same time modernize its design. The traditional economic activity remains of course a dominant force. Even if is the object of all attention, gets the majority of (fiscal) exemptions, public intervention remains poorly evaluated. The INSEE (National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies) has just calculated that the social economy represented from 10 to 15% of salaried work. As for the public service, whether it is of State, territory or hospitals, they represent a little more than 20% of the amount. As for the unemployed, they make up little more than 10% officially and probably more than 15% unless one wishes to believe blindly that those who work a little more than one-third of the time are overjoyed and are in full activity. On the whole, it is more than 50% of the paid activity, which is in this “non economy”. The elected officials, the local authorities have a true responsibility, which they exert too little, preferring to succumb to the bells and whistles of the triumphing economy. The principal responsibility for an elected official of a collective territory is to contribute to the maintenance or development of employment. It is thus crucial that these jobs of the “non economy” be taken better into account.

The elected official has the duty to act, but does he have the power? The first task of the elected official is neither to imagine he has full power on the economy, nor to renounce because it is beyond his grasp. The question of economic development and employment, in terms of jurisdiction remain vague. Maybe it would be time, while working on subsidiarity, to clarify the roles and functions of everyone involved. Our communities are in major contradiction: we are led in the name of the job creation, to accentuate the hold of economic logic on politics and on culture, but by so doing, we occult the fact that synergy between economic and societal development is not automatic. It is necessary for us to be vigilant in order to revitalize democratic life against the underpinnings of the economy.

For further information:
Summary of an article to be published by Martine Theveniaut

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Special thanks to:
Évéline Poirier from Canada for the English translation
Anne Vaugelade from France for the Spanish translation

To contact us (for information, feedback, to subscribe or unsubscribe):
Yvon Poirier

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