Global partners look back on lessons learned so far
First partner conference for the South-North component
From 9 to 13 May, 60 stakeholders from 26 nations came together in Berlin to discuss their experiences with the weltwärts South-North component. The guest list included sending organisations from Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe plus German host organisations and places of assignment. At the event, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development held out the prospect of a continuation of the component.
South-North component gets off to a good start
The South-North component was launched in November 2013 with the aim of promoting equal exchange between the Global South and the Global North. Within the three-year pilot phase, the number of volunteers who come to Germany has increased from 130 in the first cycle to 230 in 2015. Roughly 600 volunteers are expected to be hosted in 2016.
At this, the first partner conference for the new component, the delegates discussed the opportunities and challenges involved in sending volunteers to Germany. Examples were presented to give the delegates an idea of what the other participants do and to give them new ideas to take back to their organisations.
All in all, the conference delegates felt that the South-North component had got off to a successful start. "The South-North component can open less privileged young people’s eyes", explained Oparinde Omowunmi Olubunmi of ICYE Nigeria, the Nigerian partner committee of ICJA Freiwilligenaustausch weltweit. "During their voluntary service in Germany, they develop new skills and see the things needed in their home countries from a different perspective. With time, they take on leadership roles in society and shape something new."
Partners from the South seeking increased involvement
The delegates also identified room for improvement, with regard to visas and support for the various stakeholders, for instance. They would like a tool kit with tips and examples on how to implement the South-North component, from the selection process to post-assignment development-related work.
A key recommendation was that partner involvement in the management of the programme should be increased by establishing and cultivating regional networks and by means of direct influence within the weltwärts Programme Steering Committee. On the topic of quality, the delegates identified a necessity to develop separate quality criteria for the South-North component, with the South partners taking a leading role. The sending organisations from the Global South would also like to see more transparency and joint budget planning with the host organisations in Germany. It was felt that sending and host organisations needed to join forces with places of assignment to find solutions for financing the share of the costs to be borne by the host organisations (at least 25%) to ensure that less privileged young people could access the programme too. In addition, the partners in the South would also like to step up post-assignment activities so as to benefit more from the lessons learned by returning volunteers.
Component to be continued
During a panel discussion at which the various stakeholders present at the conference reflected on the potential offered by global partnerships, Bernhard Felmberg, a representative from the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, stressed, "We can all learn from each other.” He went on to add, "In view of the importance of mutual understanding, our ministry is committed to supporting young people who have open hearts and clever minds."
Bruce Mukonde Kabwe from the Catholic Diocese of Ndola was pleased to hear this commitment from the ministry. He sends Zambian volunteers to Germany in cooperation with the Bishopric of Limburg. "The panel discussion showed clearly that the German government is focusing on South-North exchange and wishes to continue this component”, he summed up. "Knowing that gives us as a sending organisation a reliable basis to work on and opens up more possibilities."