A Development Assistance Strategy for Co-operative Development (1994) - Part 2

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

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
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

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

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