All of us in Self Help Africa have been horrified to watch video footage and accounts of police brutality in the US against the African-American community. We stand in solidarity with those calling for an end to systemic racism in the US and elsewhere.
These events have prompted us to look back on the beginnings of our organisation and what we collectively have been doing since our foundation.
We have been advocating for the human rights of women, men and children throughout Africa since we were founded in 1984. The challenges facing the communities we work for in Africa are daunting and these will always remain the core focus of what we do in Self Help Africa, Tru Trade, Partner Africa and Traidlinks as part of the Gorta Group. Our consistent approach to advocacy has been focused on disseminating the evidence of the impact of our work. This will continue to be the focus of our advocacy and communications strategy.
Following our foundation and under the guidance of our first director of programmes Dr. Awole Mela, an Ethiopian, we have always taken a “country-led” approach, working against the normal dynamics of the aid industry to develop unique country strategies and promote talented country leadership. If our work since 1984 with marginalised smallholders across Africa has taught us anything, it is that working side by side with diverse groups of people brings better outcomes for all.
But words of solidarity are not enough – so what more can we do?
In recent months, we have been undertaking a comprehensive mid-term review of our operations globally. While that process is still ongoing, the events of recent weeks have given it even greater impetus and significance and it will result in a significant shift of our resourcing away from Europe.
The events of recent weeks are an urgent call to action. I feel there may be no better way to respond to it than to see us decentralise more jobs, more resources and more decisions to our colleagues in Africa.
At board level, the process of renewal is already underway. Ensuring that the board is more inclusive and reflective of the diversity of our organisation is acknowledged and will be acted on.
We all want to build a better, stronger, more impactful organisation and lack of diversity undoubtedly holds us back in achieving our full potential. As this organisation’s CEO, I am committed to driving change, to ensure that we meet the challenge that recent events have posed to us.
Ray Jordan, CEO