Focus on new work methods

LogoDEFI With the DEFI project, launched in September 2014, AEDH has now become a player in the capacity building of human rights defenders in Central Africa. New methods and tools have been created for the defenders and for their organisation’s efficiency.

What does capacity building mean ?

Capacity building is a process that aims to increase the organisation’s performance and its adaptability to an increasingly changing and demanding environment. It is an essential asset for young or smaller human rights organisations, which can be severely weakened when they face internal or external impacts (leadership problems, instability as a result of insecurity or serious political and social conflicts, loss of financing). Building the team’s skills, adjusting the work and changing the methods implies for each organisation to be willing to take a close look at themselves, to take the necessary time to reflect on its practices and be open for change.

How does AEDH encourages that process of change and professionalization?

The first step is one of lucidity and self-examination. Each of the associations taking part in the DEFI project initiates the procedure by examining their own actions, organisation, work methods in order to evaluate their strength and weaknesses and their priorities for the future. To help the defenders in this step, AEDH has created the Self-diagnosis Guide for human rights organisations. The guide consists of a questionnaire that allows to see the situation of the association in ten key topics such as expertise in the defence of human rights, the relationship with the media, advocacy or security and protection of the defenders. Once the questionnaire is filled in, there is a meeting with the AEDH team to analyse the results, choose the priority topics and the most appropriate means to produce the expected changes. The following step is the formalisation of the objectives and the actions of what we call a Progression Plan.

What are the solutions put forward by AEDH to carry out the capacity building?

A broad range of methods is available for the associations participating in the DEFI project. First, there is a Toolkit on ‘accounting and financial management’ and ‘monitoring of human rights violations’. These are practical tools, with an explanatory factsheet, handed out to each association to ensure good finance management (How to keep cash receipt journals, keep the supporting documents for accounting entries and monitor the outturn budget?) and to document human rights violations (how to establish a rights violation database? How to interview a victim?). The training of defenders is another lever when it comes to reinforcing the skills of the team, for instance in terms of strategy or legal and judicial assistance for the victims. The individualized support by the head of projects of AEDH is also essential because organisations need to be advised on the technical aspect of project management and fundraising. Finally, exchanges of experience between organisations allow defenders to share their good practices with their peers.


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