Investigative Analysis ESM Duke of York Island
Bismarck Ramu Group CHANGE STORY
ABOUT Bismarck Ramu Group
The Bismarck Ramu Group (BRG) is an offshoot of the Bismarck Ramu Group Interacted and Development Project (BRICADP). This was a 5 year project jointly administered and implemented by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the Department of Environment and Conservation which is the current Conservation Environment Protection Authority (CEPA) and an NGO called the Christensen Research Institute (CRI).
The project started in 1996 and ended in 1999. The objective of the project was to conserve the Bismarck Ramu Area situated between Jiwaka, Simbu and Madang Provinces of Papua New Guinea. The area is a biodiversity hotspot encompassing unique flora and fauna.
The boundaries of the project area were the Bismarck Range in Jiwaka, the Marum River flowing from Mt Wilhem in Simbu to Madang; the Simbai River flowing from Jiwaka to Madang and the Ramu River in Madang.
Lessons learnt from other development projects in the country including the Lak Integrated Conservation and Development Project (LICADP) in New Ireland province guided the formation of the BRICADP ensuring NOT to repeat the mistakes done in those projects.
The Bismarck Ramu Group Integrated Conservation (BRICAD) and the Lak ICAD failed projects provided the basis for BRG to restructure and refocus its work to suit the present pressing development issues. These projects provided very vital challenges which has set the priority for BRG to refocus its work . Failure of these projects resulted from overspending and decline of financial resources hence undermining the local resource owners’ ability to take up conservation and development work conscientiously. Financial resources and cargo mentaility in development have been identified as disempowering and allowing deattachement in local resource areas with little emphasis on local people to be self-reliant to sustain development initiatives.
When BRICADP came to a close at the end of 2009, the BRICADP staff members continued to work with communities in the Bismarck Ramu Area under the Bismarck Ramu Group as an NGO.
The journey of BRG as an NGO commenced 2000 where the UNDP provided bridging funds for that year. This was to allow BRG to look for additional funding from elsewhere. The same year, the Inter-church Organization for Development Corporation (ICCO) from the Netherlands and Bread for the World from Germany jointly funded BRG.
Below is a timeline with bullet points of the most significant shifts/changes in the life of the BRG:
- BRG was officially registered with the Investment Promotion Authority (IPA) in March 2001.
- An independent team evaluation team was put together to find out if BRG had the capacity to run as an NGO.
- The goal was to continue to conserve the environment.
- The 7-Step Community Development Process (CDP) and the Conservation Process utilized in engaging with communities and continued to be refined. These processes were organic and home grown; basically based on field experience.
- BRG started to work with other communities outside of the Bismarck Ramu Area.
- 3 programs – Community Development, Education and Church
- Target groups mainly were communities, churches and schools
- BRG refocused, its goal changed from conservation of the environment to land is life. This was with the help of an evaluation team that did the evaluation that year. The evaluation team found that BRG was much more into land than the environment. The Melanesian and holistic perspective of land was defined.
- Church Program disbanded and replaced by the Campaign Program
- Goal – Land is Life
- Realization that the outside force was coming at a fast rate and having an impact in the lives of the people and their resources.
- Because of the above, BRG came up with a 4 Step Community Development Process.
- BRG concentrated more into helping communities to organize.
- Community Development Workers changed to Community Organizers
- Community Development Program was changed to Community Organizing
- Literacy program was dropped
- As part of teaching at the schools, the Education Program started using puppets in schools as one way of disseminating information.
- More structure was put in the organization to guide the organization.
- Realization in 2005-2006 the importance to organize and promote peoples’ development to strengthen its campaign against the dominant model of development. The concept of Appropriate Technology trialed in BRG but later disbanded in 2007.
- At the end of 2010, Campaigns beefed up. Because of this, more attention was given to media
- Had a much clearer understanding of the Model of Development and its connection to mining, logging, land grab etc.
- Major restructure in BRG, this determined the strategies and approaches used
- Goal was Land is Life
- BRG changed its strategy of working with individual communities to working with key, organized, strategic and influential groups and institutions. BRG had to step up in-order to respond to the massive exploitation caused by the dominant model of development which was coming in at enormous speed.
- The Community Organizing Program was changed to Community Facilitation
- 3 programs – Media, Networking and Training
- Came up with a 2 Step Community Development Process
- Goal – Land is Life
- Focused in challenging the dominant model of development, promoting PNG ways and investing in young people.
- The Campaign program was dropped, the understanding was that the organization as a whole was campaigning.
- No Community Development Process
- Emphasis was on information gathering, processing, packaging and dissemination
2015 to Now
- Goal – Land is Life
- Emphasis in being proactive, shaping and influencing the future
- Targeting organized groups, organizations and institutions
- More emphasis on rethinking development
- Linking up with others in the region in challenging the beast.
- Continue to focus not only in challenging the dominant model however promoting peoples’ ways of sustaining themselves and investing in young people.
Note: Elements of the life of the organization is captured in Race for the Rainforest Part 2, Cash verse Conservation, Through the Thicket etc.
BRG HAS NOT REACHED ITS REVELATION PHASE OF ITS STORY; IT IS STILL IN ITS EXODUS PHASE.
This project report is a submission to GlobalGiving's 2017 Fail Forward Contest, where organizations are asked to share a story of when they tried something new that didn't go as planned and how they learned from it. Enjoy!
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