Social lab day three – the banquet table

If day one was a burst of fire in the oven, and day two was doing our kitchen prep, then day three was a banquet table fully laden. No one wants to miss the feast and attendance at day three hovers around 90 percent from day one. You can feel the anticipation growing in the room as we move towards voting on the five to seven ‘big ideas’ that the 65 plus delegates will take forward for the next year.

It bears repeating that the Rumphi Social Lab is about making change through innovation without ‘project funding’. Participants are volunteering their time, and committed to working in ways that leverage the voluntary commitment of others.

The morning began in alternating plenary and idea-team sessions where the emerging ‘big ideas’ were tested against the insights about the trust gaps and power dynamics in relationships that determine Rumphi’s development progress. This table summarizing the relationships in Rumphi provoked a powerful discussion, and a collective ‘a-hah’ moment, in the language of management consulting, that “we mostly work in relationships, and don’t spend enough time working on relationships”. In response to the clear need to build trust across parties, a rather earthy metaphor was offered that brought the house down: “When you have a runny tummy, you don’t expect the toilet to come to you. You run to it!”

Our nine ideas from day two grew to 11 overnight! These ideas were pitched and debated, and, in the end seven ideas were agreed to take forward to day four. Tomorrow, the ideas would be honed into ‘prototypes’, including a critical element of the idea that would be tested in a first “micro-action” lasting six weeks.

  • Enhancing citizen voice in development activities through forums
  • Opening up the District Council to all stakeholders by testing different mechanisms to enhance participation
  • Monitoring the utilization of the District Development Funds in Rumphi
  • Dialogue sessions and score cards between actors where low-trust relationships prevail
  • New Code of Conduct (charter) between CBOs, NGOs, and District Council
  • Enhancing transparency and accountability of NGOs through a service charter
  • Reform current top-down model the Community Development Fund through joint identification of Community Development Fund projects

Until tomorrow!

The Rumphi Social Lab is a collaboration of Youth And Society Malawi, Root Change, Keystone Accountability and USAID Local Works


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