Can you copy paste tools or methodologies from one context to another?
That was the key question during a lively debate between four partners involved in the Deepening Democracy program. Starting point for experimenting copy pasting, was the pilot phase of the program. Deepening Democracy is focused on a new strain of civil society activism, linked to citizen movements. It is about more space for direct and participatory democratic practices.
Under this umbrella the following tools have been piloted in new contexts: Follow The Law from Netdem in The Netherlands was used in Uganda, Brasil and South Africa. The thematic budget monitoring tool from Inesc in Brasil was used in The Netherlands and Uganda. And the Youth Manifesto from Uganda went to Brasil and The Netherlands. All these tools are about transparency. “We all investigate numbers, technical documents and then mobilize. Because we prepare political documents. Transparancy is the new sustainability”, said Emmanuel from Cew-It.
The case where it became clear that copy pasting tools is an illusion, was the Follow the Law tool.
Yvette from Netdem mentioned that the Kampala workshop made clear that the Follow the Law tool as developed had to be adapted, obviously because the legal system in Uganda is quite different. Furthermore, visiting physically in situ the projects in Uganda made clear the complexity in their work of monitoring laws in a complete new context and that the way forward was to focus on what both contexts had in common, and take that as starting point. This meant focusing on creating spaces where law works for people. In the end, thanks to the richness of the learning processes they went through, NetDem adapted their own tool and redesigned their platform.
The thematic budget monitoring tool had no need to be adapted per se, the human rights framework was used in all contexts, but the themes selected were different per country: In The Netherlands on social care, in Uganda on education and in Brasil on mobility/public transport, and this worked out very well.
And, finally, the Youth Manifesto had a clear tool as common ground that has been used in three contexts and each context created a country specific narrative. For Cew-It the exchanges meant also an innovative impulse to their own work.
In the end, the partners concluded that the benefits from co-creation and working as equals, as real partners was not always the easiest way to work, but it was indeed the best way. And above all, this way of working makes clear what the real value of democracy is, which you can only understand if you take into account different contexts.