A good way to think about a theory of change is to work backwards from the change that you want to see and think about the steps needed to get there. Our vision is a world where all people can live in peace and live life to the full. This is not the case in the communities where we work, and that’s why the final stage in our theory of change says:
“…tangible changes are experienced by communities.”
This could include:
- Securing land-rights so they have a safe and secure home and can make a living.
- Receiving fair government funding for things like health and education.
- Experiencing the freedom to express their faith and beliefs without persecution.
How do communities experience tangible changes?
We believe that authorities and communities must agree on how policies and services can be used and adapted to meet the needs and rights of ordinary people.
How do communities and authorities reach this agreement?
Local organisations and authorities need to work together more collaboratively. This involves three elements:
- Developing trust.
- Creating opportunities for collaboration.
- Engaging deeply and tackling the root causes of issues.
These three elements are interconnected. The more opportunities for engagement, the more likely they are to become common place, institutionalised, and lead to deeper conversations. Similarly, the more regularly communities and authorities meet, the more trust will grow. The more trust develops, the more likely they are to meet regularly, creating opportunities for collaboration and deeper conversations.
Not only this, but when they reach agreement on policies and services and the communities see tangible change, this further builds trust and collaboration. They learn that working together is in everyone’s interest.
How do we get to a place where communities and authorities meet regularly, build trust, and deepen their engagement?
There are three conditions.
- Local organisations must be willing, confident, and capable of engaging with authorities.
- Authorities must be willing, confident, and capable of engaging with communities.
- Opportunities for this engagement must be created and supported.
How can communities and authorities become willing, confident, and capable to engage with one another?
Local organisations become more confident as we help them to become resilient and stable. They’re more capable to engage with authorities as a result of our training, which improves their analytical, communication and advocacy skills. We build their willingness to engage by helping them identify any prejudices they currently hold towards authorities.
In the same way, we help authorities understand the benefits of engaging with communities. We support them in improving their analytical, communication and consultation skills. We build their willingness to engage by helping them identify any prejudices they currently hold towards local organisations.
This is Cord’s Theory of Change. There will obviously be differences from one country to another depending on the local context, but this approach is the foundation to all of our projects.