Cracking the code of collaboration

“Trust building is important. You have to generate goodwill with different stakeholders.”

In a learning session on stakeholder collaboration, Liza Lim, PEF board member and Chairperson of the Philippine Partnership for the Development of Human Resources in Rural Areas, cited that a good strategy to start collaboration is through partnerships with the local government.

As PEF enters its new direction, collaboration with stakeholders on the ground will be vital to the success of PEF’s thrust of building self-sustaining and resilient households.

“When you do research like scoping, involve the local government initially. Engage them in terms of analyzing the issues and problems in the community,” she added.

Aside from Lim, also present were PEF General Assembly and development leaders Edith Villanueva, Nestor Carbonera, and Martiniano Magdolot who are considered convergence leaders in their respective areas. 

LGU as important partner in the area development

Villanueva, a former Negros Occidental representative, emphasized the importance of working with the local government to leverage financial and non-financial resources and freely connect with other networks and communities.

“You have to set the scene.  If you know their goals and directions, you can synchronize your efforts with them. Make sure the civil society organizations you are supporting are also members of the city councils, and even the education and health boards,” she said.

PEF has been actively engaging local governments in its priority areas.  In February 2020, Padre Burgos, Quezon Mayor Ruben Uy Diokno, along with the fisherfolks and members of the Yakap at Halik Multi-Purpose Cooperative and Ipil Action Group, visited Zamboanga Sibugay to learn how the fisherfolk communities in Kabasalan are able to sustain their livelihood through aquaculture while protecting the environment.

There have also been several meetings between PEF and its partners, together with the local chief executives of Ifugao, Sultan Kudarat, Bukidnon, and Davao del Norte.

The need for local champions

Magdolot meanwhile added that PEF must look for “local champions” to push PEF’s initiatives on the ground.

“PEF needs to identify and develop local champions. The transfer of development perspective and the capture of institutional experience is something PEF cannot do alone,” he said.

Magdolot noted that PEF can be the lead convenor in priority areas for about five years and then slowly transfer the initiatives to the local champions.

Carbonera seconded this insight, adding that there should be continuous capacity building to strengthen local champions’ skills and development perspective.

“We need to look at the capacities of our local partners. We only have five years in our strategic plan. If we rely on a weak local partner, we might not reach our end goal,” he said.

Lim noted tapping agricultural schools to develop local champions and collaborators.

Strengthening staff competencies

In the next strategy period, Villanueva said that PEF staff competencies must be sharpened.        

“There should be continuous upskilling of human resources.”

Magdolot added that the staff should be committed to achieve the vision they want for households and communities.

“There should be a strong resolve to help the community.”