The CWE Programme and the importance of building networks
by Kanishk Srinivasan
While working under the banner of Dakshin’s Community Wellbeing and Environment (CWE) Programme, a significant chunk of our work in the last few months has been building collaborations and partnerships with other organisations, activists and experts in the various fields that we’re attempting to work in. To provide a few examples, the Health team has built collaborations with community based organizations and youth groups active in our field sites in South Andaman and Odisha. The health and livelihoods sub-programmes have also brought Dr Abhijit Das and Venkatesh Salagrama on board as advisors to learn from their expertise in these areas and to improve programme planning and implementation.
Given my personal lack of experience in sports coaching, the Sports team is also looking to partner with other organisations in the sports-for-development space who could support our work. We were on a call with some of our potential partners a while ago, when the point came up that we were not trying to reinvent the wheel in the world of sports-for-development, but just wanted to add an environmental axis to much of the work that is already being done. Dakshin’s – and the CWE’s – unique offering in this space is that the organisation has historically been able to do a significant chunk of work in the environmental space, particularly coastal and marine ecosystems, which would add a new perspective to the sports-for-development space– how sports and outdoor activities can potentially inculcate a love for the outdoors and the natural environment around us.
I’ve been working at Dakshin for nearly two years now, and something that’s been clear to me from nearly the beginning is that so much of our work has been done in association with partners and the extensive network that the organisation has built over the last 13-ish years. I look back at the work we did during the initial lockdown as part of the COVID Lockdown Response, and none of that would have been possible without the help of our local partners and contacts in coastal and fishing communities across the country. These partners on the ground have the scope and the local networks to make our work possible.
At the CWE programme, more often than not, we’ve found that these local partners also have more experience with the brand of work that we’re trying to conduct. By tapping into this experience, we are hoping to augment the effectiveness of our interventions by putting our resources together and working collaboratively to create a more significant impact. While these partnerships may have limited impact in the shorter term, especially during a pandemic when we’re mostly working remotely, there is a lot to be gained from working with partners in the longer-term.
Given that our plans for the CWE programme include expanding our work to other parts of the coastline and country, it makes sense programmatically as well to expand our network with organizations, officials and individuals at the local level. While our work might involve initiating our projects in new sites, there is some semblance of security in these spaces through these partnerships, through which these projects can simultaneously continue locally and at a larger scale.
At the same time, we also need to ensure that our work doesn’t lose its identity by being pulled in these various directions with these multiple partnerships. There is a unique perspective that we can offer in these spaces and partnerships, and it’s important to focus on those as well, just to ensure that we achieve our objectives.
Stay tuned for more updates and general ramblings!