Future Makers Nepal was supposed to be the big learning of my life - first time in Asia, first time working in a very different setting and for an institution as big as UNDP. It was a chance to use my multicultural experience and practice some of my scientific knowledge about politics in a real situation. Also a big challenge to try to do something meaningful in a very short time in a completely new place. I knew it will be a project that demands accelerated ability to build networks and meet the right people, and it will require extreme carefulness and respect in order not to deliver some good quality outcomes.
What was not calculated is that I would land in Kathmandu the day before their biggest earthquake in 80 years and that with @Matthias we would have to face a huge crisis in the country. Our original project got twisted and turned - instead of promoting participatory democracy and more transparent and inclusive ways of making politics (and writing the constitution, which was finally approved shortly after we left Nepal), we collected stories of resilience and grassroot mobilisation. We ended up being close to many small, ad-hoc activities that provided extremely efficient help to areas affected by the disaster. For three months we observed an extremely interesting society dealing with destruction, lack of organization on national and international level and various examples of inefficiency.
The project wasn’t exactly what we would like it to be - not that we really knew from the beginning what kind of role we could possibly play in such a new setting. At some point we realized that our knowledge, even if it impressed our supervisors and shed some new light on the civil society in Nepal, won’t easily transfer into action and actual changes. We faced the difficulties of working within big international structures, in a highly turbulent time. Money and time constraints, also procedures, didn’t allow us to implement some small projects and ideas that in our opinion could have been important and life-changing for the people in the country. Even though we managed to spot impressive examples of resilience, activism, grassroot mobilisation and innovation, there were no effective ways to engage powerful stakeholders with them.
Future Makers Nepal is the reason why I decided to take lead of the development track of LOTE5 conference. I will tell you more about fuckups and failures we’ve witnessed and took part in ourselves during that extraordinary journey. I hope to turn this discussion into a big mutual learning process - where we compare the notes, exchange experinces and possibly come up with alternative ideas on how to get things done despite circumstances and obstacles. In the following weeks I will be announcing the first speakers who will join us in Brussels in the late February 2016 during LOTE5 - and I want to ask you to chip in your own ideas and personal stories or contacts that would nurture this debate. We want as much diverse stories from development to be included - in form of posts, interviews, and sessions during the conference. If you need help in fleshing out a proposal or text, want to discuss about the topic, contribute an idea or know someone who would contribute to this meeting, please leave a comment or drop me a message at email@example.com.
Looking forward to meeting you online and in person!