Part 2 of A Development Assistance Strategy for Co-operative Development (1994) 3.10 The role of ICA ******************** We will in this section briefly delineate what we consider to be relevant in terms of type of support for the co-operatives in the situation they now are facing. It goes without saying that the type of support to be provided will depend on the local situation. However, in conformity with what we previously have argued about the possibilities to generalize about the present co-operative situation in Africa, we believe that, in a similar manner, it is possible to make some generalized observations about the type of assistance to be provided. Furthermore, it is again emphasized that ny development programme must be result of the deliberations between two parties, in this case the African co-operative and the donor organization. 3.10.1 Purpose and Functions: In order to increase the volume of co-operative development to Africa, as well as to the rest of the Third World, the funding possibilities which rest with the international donors should be exploited. We believe that there are a number of donors and development banks which are providing support and granting loans for activities and schemes, in which there are co- operative interests, or where co-operative development knowledge and experience would be useful. There is a potential to be exploited, and we also believe that the co-operative sector should make itself more visible within the international donor community. Since the CAAs are small and that their prime concern should be the government donors and the EU, it is believed that a consolidated approach of the co-operative forces would stand the best chances of accomplishing these tasks. It is therefore proposed that ICA assumes an enlarged and revised role as a co-operative donor organization. The combined knowledge and experience of the ICA (with its regional offices) and its development partners, the European and American CAAs, is considerable and would attract the interests of several international donors. Not only are all kinds of co-operative business skills represented, but coupled with this is the experience of promoting democracy in the local context, of mobilizing and organizing people for a common purpose and the participatory approach in institution building. There is also considerable experience of project identification, administration and implementation of development programmes. All this experience is not only of relevance in ordinary co-operative programmes, but would also be beneficial in many other types of development programmes, financed by such bodies as the World Bank, the Regional Development Banks, IFAD, EU, UNDP, etc. By adopting a somewhat widened concept of what co-operatives and co-operative methods and solutions can entail in the Third World in the future, ICA would, as a donor organization, not have to confine its support to its established member co- operatives. We believe ICA should have a mandate which is broad enough to enable it to provide support also to the type of co-operatives which will be there tomorrow. We have for instance in a previous chapter underlined the importance of co-operative donors also being prepared to support the parallel and informal co-operative structures. This our recommendation is also valid for ICA. Such a mandate should also allow ICA to administer and implement programmes, which require the knowledge and experience accounted for above, but which today might not be termed as 100 percent co-operative. There are basically two ways for ICA to collaborate with the international donors when it comes to funding of development projects. First, to prepare own project proposals in cooperation with the recipient organization and seek funding for these with the donor. This type of collaboration presents no problems as far as the identity of the programmes are concerned, since they are designed by ICA and its partners. Second, ICA can respond on invitations for tenders on administration and implementation of projects, prepared and funded by an international donor. This type of projects require the somewhat broader mandate, but might be necessary if ICA shall be able to participate in the collaboration with the international donor community. They will most likely also be desirable from an economic point of view. There are obviously approaches which combine these two basic methods, circumstances will determine the most suitable manner in which to act. To cooperate with the donors in this somewhat broader manner would also make it possible for ICA to influence the donor community towards a greater understanding of co-operatives and co-operative methods; the co-operatives would become more visible. 3.10.2 Organization: These new tasks will over time be self-financing and it is therefore proposed that they are separated from the ICA traditional main functions. A world wide co-operative development trust or foundation, in line with the idea presently being discussed within ICA, could well serve the purposes outlined above. The founders would be the ICA member organizations with financial contributions to a nucleus administration to get the organization off the ground. The ICA development partners will need to be adequately engaged so as to ensure the involvement of their knowledge and experience. The competence required for this new role ranges a bit beyond the ordinary co-operative knowledge; know-how about rural development, project design and preparation and familiarity with the functioning of the international donors are among the skills required. The ICA and its regional offices do have a nucleus of this, but it has to be complemented and enlarged. 3.11 The staff of co-operative donor agencies ********************************************* We have already noted that a co-operative donor agency which intends to extend support to self- help groups outside formal co-operative structures often may have reasons to add members of staff with the specific experience of working with self-help groups. Many co-operative donor agencies should review their staff situations as part of a strategy for co-operative development also for other reasons. In many ways the proposed strategy for co-operative development implies a clear break with the past. Furthermore, it presupposes major changes and at times somewhat uncompromising attitudes. Lukewarm interest and commitment to change is not good enough. Cosmetic modifications are often not meaningful but give a false impression of "action". A slow pace of reform may not be much better than no reform at all. Emphasis is to be put on business efficiency rather than on co-operative principles and member training. This re-orientation may not be all that easy for staff who has been actively involved in promoting "co-operative development" of the past for the following reasons. It is hard to admit that something one has whole-heartedly supported and worked with was miss- conceived and contributed to the present sad state of affairs. In an understandable effort to somehow justify the past even very modest changes to the better may then be seen as major and promising improvements. Part of the problem is also that an emotional commitment may have developed to the co-operative organizations, to the union or apex organization with which a member of staff has worked with. Also, loyalty, sympathy and friendship with individuals in these organizations makes it difficult to take a neutral and analytical stand. For the sake of friendship or collegial affiliation one will be more reluctant to draw detached conclusions, deliver critical messages and to cut ties. In other words, staff of co-operative donor agencies may also constitute a more or less serious obstacle to successful adjustment.