Working with Indigenous Communities

Last November/December, I was fortunate to spend a month in East Africa speaking at a conference and doing site visits. So many NGO’s and other charitable organizations were talking about working with indigenous communities, but it was interesting how many shades of gray there were when it came to how it was being executed on the ground.

Some of the signs that showed real partnership with the community were things like hiring locals (and treating them well), supporting the local economy, conducting discussions in the local language, being part of village meetings and letting the community set the priorities. You could also tell from the interactions with the community, who was truly welcome and making impact.

I’m curious to hear from the broader philanthropic/social enterprise community what they have learned about working with indigenous communities and what true partnership with them is all about.


~ by Maryann Fernandez on July 2, 2009.

One Response to “Working with Indigenous Communities”

  1. To the Livingstone Tanzania Trust there is one key issue that needs to be mentioned. DEPENDENCY
    Nobody wants to be dependant, so the only question of any importance is…… how is this going to work after I have gone?
    If the community are not able to fund the project after you have gone, then you have got it wrong.
    If the community don’t want what you leave behind you have got it wrong.
    If the community don’t know how to run it after you have gone, you have got it wrong.
    The community MUST end up as the owners, with the skills and the financial ability and the desire to keep the project running.
    The world is littered with failed projects because the community were not at the heart of the process.

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