CDRD – Reconnecting Citizens

There is a mind-blowing puzzle
written by Samuel Lloyd in 1914 called the Nine Dots Lloyd liked making puzzles to represent the way
that we approach to problem-solving In this puzzle, he draws nine dots
and proposes to connect them with only four straight lines
never lifting the pencil from the paper Now, let’s take a few seconds
to think about it Like most people,
you’ll probably feel limited by the short number of lines you can use or by the few constraints you are given The truth is, though you are probably concentrating
too much on the dots that you see a barrier
closing the space around them And yet,
the problem is easily resolved by extending the lines outside
of the confines of your imaginary box This is likely the same mistake we encounter
when we deal with fragile states We know that fragile states
are a global emergency Out of the world’s seven billion people
about 26% live in fragile states These people represent
one third of the world people surviving on less than $1.25 per day 75% of the world’s refugees half of the world’s children
who die before the age of five This is, perhaps the greatest challenge
of the global aid community Fragile states are generally recognized
as states which don’t have capacity to perform basic functions Citizens don’t feel represented Institutions struggle to affirm their legitimacy People become vulnerable to violence and conflict and everything collapses in a general decay
of security and living conditions Huge efforts and large amounts of resources
have been invested in supporting the institutions
of these countries to restore their governance
and to rebuild their states However, very often these attempts have led to big failures. Of course, one of the reasons is that fragile states
are tough places to work Issues are multiple and of multiple natures We have difficulties in assessing contexts Social and political situations are constantly changing And what are the actual
drivers of conflict and constraints to prosperity this remains largely unknown How can we develop systems for learning, and for scaling what works in such uncertain environments? What are the processes
that should inspire our programs? What’s the right architecture to rebuild a fragile state? The answer, perhaps can be found if we look
beyond the stability of institutions extending our observation
to the space around them All in all, when we want
to rebuild a house we must start with the foundations It’s only by tinkering at a small scale starting from the base that we can reconstruct from the ruins a better and more stable building And citizens are the foundations
of every society At the beginning of his social path man was born naked into the world with the sole need
of shaping natural resources to satisfy his wants and advancing his living conditions Man turns natural resources
into private property and finds that through the processes of voluntary exchange
and mutual cooperation the productivity, and the living standards
of all participants can increase enormously So men step forward
along the social path Together
they agree about their values turn their collective needs into duties and give themselves norms in order to address problems
in harmonious and peaceful cooperation rather than fighting over them The failure of fragile states goes beyond
the limited capacity of state-institutions In fragile states there is a problem
of legitimacy of state-institutions And we know that
the legitimacy of state-institutions is strongly affected by the lack of
dialogue and cooperation with citizens and amongst the citizens themselves And yet when institutions collapse communities still hold values and norms
to cooperate as a group they rally harder and reinforce cohesion
to address problems and they oppose strongly
to any external threats Communities are the lowest social unit
and the most direct expression of individuals They hold social capital that can largely affect the development
path of a nation However state failure often represents
a real trauma for communities and an obstacle
to reactivating the dialogue with other communities
and emerging institutions For many years
the Danish Refugee Council has been working
with hundreds of communities affected by conflict to restore dialogue and cooperation
through the CDRD the Community-Driven
Recovery and Development project In CDRD we support communities to raise common problems to identify priorities and to administer resources for building common solutions Communities reorganize themselves
in a new model of governance integrated within
their own set of norms but anchored to dialogue and interaction
amongst all community members People have the chance to directly experience
problem-solving dynamics to debate their ideas and to critically reconsider, along
with their values the benefit of collaborating
in larger and more refined social structures When the process is successful CDRD supports communities
to scale up their experience of governance and to address more complex issues in a larger cooperation with other communities
and emerging institutions Over years of implementation we have learnt mistakes and scaled what works
to design a framework able to build dialogue between
citizens and state-institutions But for us, CDRD
is also an opportunity to set up a laboratory of interaction
with citizens where together we can continue to learn
and develop new ideas new and more integrated ways
to connect the dots and to building every time, starting
from the bottom a unique and successful story

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