• 08 September 2020

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    Posteado en : Opinion

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    Washing your hands, a lesson as simple as it is impossible

    On World Development Worker Day, a FIIAPP technician tells us about the challenge faced by millions of people in accessing drinking water

    On World Development Worker Day, David Rodríguez Soane shares his thoughts with us on the importance of development workers continuing with their work. A vital and necessary task, especially during the pandemic. In a difficult context like this, David focuses on the need to guarantee access to safe water and hygiene, as universal rights and a key action against the spread of the virus.

    Washing your hands with soap and water is a simple gesture that today more than ever, in the middle of the Covid era, helps save lives. With the first days of September already passing by, governments and educational centres are debating about reopening their facilities and the most appropriate teaching models to adapt during this pandemic. However, in 43% of schools around the world it is not possible to wash your hands, a key defence mechanism in the fight to reduce the transmission of the virus. In fact, in less developed countries, 7 out of 10 schools lack basic facilities.

    In mid-August, the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF published a joint report, Progress on Drinking Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Schools (WASH), in which it was revealed that around 818 million children in the world lack basic facilities to wash their hands in their schools, which puts them at greater risk of contracting Covid-19 and other communicable diseases. More than a third (295 million) live in Sub-Saharan Africa.

    Once again, water proves essential for life. But so are sanitation and hygiene. A simple example is enough: without toilets, natural water sources are polluted; without clean water, basic hygiene practices are not possible. Among them, washing your hands.

    The cooperation perspective

    The world of cooperation has an important role to play in ensuring that the right to drinking water and sanitation is just that, a right for everyone. Indeed, this summer, the international community discussed water at great length. In the last week of August, for example, numerous actors, from governments to civil society organisations, gathered at two important events.

    On the one hand, from 24 to 28 August, Water World Week – WWWeek took place virtually. The Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) promotes this multilateral Agora every year which, for almost 30 years, has become the most influential event in the world for tackling the greatest challenges relating to water. On the other hand and also in the same week, the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) organised five days of conferences dedicated exclusively to water from the perspective of development. This year, the Week on Water for Development (WW4D) started with a motto which is clearly part of today’s world: “Every drop counts, water in exceptional times.”

    Also this summer, in July, and with a strong presence from Spanish Cooperation through the Cooperation Fund for Water and Sanitation (FCAS), the XXI Conference of Ibero-American Water Directors (CODIA) took place, which is the main platform for political dialogue, technical collaboration and cooperation on water in Ibero-America. Within this framework, the two technical dialogues that dominated the debate were the relationship between water and biodiversity and the integration of sanitation and treatment in the framework of integrated water resources management.

    As we can see, there are plenty of spaces for the exchange of experiences and for multi-stakeholder coordination in order to achieve SDG 6, clean water and sanitation for all. The achievements of the past should serve as a spur to strengthen the firm steps being taken by multilateralism to reach 2030 in the best possible position. Global mobilisation after the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) lead to the fact that in 2015, 2.1 billion people had access to improved sanitation and that 147 countries reached the goal for accessing sources of drinking water (MDG Report 2015, UNDP). Now, the SDGs, after being with us for five years, open a new window of opportunity to follow the same path of progress and consolidation of rights. However, the figures in the SDG Report 2020 on SDG6 are not as good as one would expect and the emergence of Covid-19 has only made the situation worse. This is why we require solutions, we need answers.

    In this context, Spanish Cooperation, has the tools to contribute to global objectives and these must be emphasised. From data for 2018, it has been estimated that the FCAS has benefited more than 2.8 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean. In addition, 2.2 million Latin Americans have had access to new or rehabilitated drinking water services and 1.1 million to sanitation services. Also the AECID and FIIAPP, through its participation in the EUROCLIMA+ project, which is the EU’s flagship programme on environmental sustainability and climate change with Latin America, devote enormous efforts to managing water in order to ensure the availability of water resources and strengthen institutional capacities and governance of the sector in beneficiary countries. In turn, numerous NGDOs, such as Manos Unidas, Oxfam Intermón and Acción Contra el Hambre, to name just a few, also carry out important specialised intervention actions regarding the provision of water, sanitation and hygiene in the countries in which they operate. They are examples of actors in our development work, but there are more, also among the autonomous communities, universities and other agents that are part of the system.

    Thoughts from the pandemic

    We have been looking at the issue from the perspective of cooperation, but the pandemic that has taken up and conditioned our lives for months provides us with some thoughts: the interconnection of essential elements such as dignity, people, prosperity, the planet, justice and partnerships. We are already familiar with the image being reflected back at us, but it also invites us to reflect once again. Global health, quality education and access to water and sanitation. SDGs 3, 4 and 6. All of these are interconnected rights, objectives and challenges that intersect throughout the world in a familiar scene in early September: the beginning of the school year. The equation is more complex in times of pandemic. And practically impossible to solve, for those girls and boys living in countries where washing their hands with soap and water is still a luxury within the reach of only a handful of people.

    On 8 September each year we celebrate Development Worker Day. It is a day to honour all the people who contribute their work, their knowledge and their sweat to build a world which is more just. But it will also be a day to remember that, according to the Hand Hygiene For All initiative, three billion people, 40% of the world’s population, cannot wash their hands with soap and water at home. Three-quarters of them live in the poorest countries in the world. Simply because they lack basic facilities to wash their hands, millions of people are at immediate risk of contracting Covid-19 or other diseases.

    The challenge is enormous, but we must make a start at sometime and in some place. So let’s start this September and let’s start with schools. Let’s learn a lesson as a society: simple gestures should not be impossible.

    Author: David R. Seoane, Communication and Knowledge Management Technician for the Spanish Cooperation programme “Transparency, Communication and Knowledge Management”

  • 06 August 2020

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    Posteado en : Opinion

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    “The border is a point of transition, a temporary place that increases the vulnerability and difficulties facing migrants”

    A EUROsociAL+ expert explains the vulnerability migrants face at borders

    Bárbara Gómez, EUROsociAL+ project technician tells us about the dangers that migrants run at borders and how inequalities increase while they remain in this situation, particularly at the crossing between Mexico and the United States. She also speaks about how public policies are the key to guaranteeing a legal framework to protect the basic human rights of migrants.

    Clearly, we have abandoned the usual idea of seeing a border as a mere line that can be easily erased, to look at it, like the philosopher Eugenio Trías, as an authentic territory in which not only conflicts or cultural clashes, but also multiple exchanges and trade-offs are evident. Above all, a different conception of the “experience of the limit”.

    The flexibility of the mobility of people across these borders, added to the complexity of our current society, and the perennial problems of searching for opportunities due to poverty and social inequality in many countries, along with regional conflicts, has led to a migratory phenomenon that has itself increased to such an extent as to become a global situation. This reality has become more evident lately due to the latest events that occurred in the current context of the migration through Mexico where, in October 2018 a caravan began in which just over six thousand people came to Tijuana to seek asylum in the United States[1]. The focus on this event was sharpened by the continued strengthening of the south-west border of the United States, where the current president insists on building a border wall with Mexico, despite the Democrats’ opposition and refusal to approve expenditure for the wall.

    Over the last 12 years, migration in Mexico has started to change profoundly in terms of numbers, patterns and impacts, in other words, a significant transformation in the migration dynamics in this region of the country has occurred. This new dynamic has brought consequences of a social, economic and cultural nature to the different border cities and to the region in general.

    EUROsociAL+, the European Union programme run by FIIAPP, is watching the migratory phenomenon in the Latin American region, and particularly in the Central American region, and with a multidimensional approach, is also observing how migration is being managed in border areas, improving cross-border governance systems. Within this framework, it has overseen the preparation of a diagnostic study that focuses on all phases and stages of this phenomenon in a context of economic, social and political crisis.

    To this end, there were several questions to answer: What will happen to undocumented migrants arriving at the south-western border of the United States? How likely is it that they will decide to reside in the border region of Mexico as they are unable to cross the border or request asylum? Is the Mexican government prepared for this possible contingency?

    It was vitally important to analyse the initial situation in the border territories, which in most cases were not only forced to receive migrants from Central America unable to cross the border, but at the same time to receive all those who had been deported and were affected by the extremely strict migratory policies of the United States. The analysis started from this approach and how all this would affect a new organisation of the region, the public policies put in place for multilevel governance, regional cohesion and, therefore, for social cohesion as a response to the sense of belonging felt by such a heterogeneous group of citizens living on the border.

    The study, therefore, aims to understand the journeys experienced by the migrants, as well as their experiences during their temporary or forced stay in the border cities of this region. The analysis included both Mexicans who have been deported or returned from the United States, as well as men and women from Central America and the Caribbean.

    Mexico’s northern border includes the group of municipalities adjacent to the US border, on the assumption that this is where most of these events occur. Included in this area are 38 adjoining municipalities that belong to six states: Baja California, Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León and Tamaulipas. It has now become a region with close ties to the United States; there are permanent exchanges of goods and services in both directions, as well as a huge flow of people who cross over in both directions every day. To mention just some interesting details. The Baja California border region has the highest number of immigrants (168,000); 38.4% of the population was born in a non-border region or outside Mexico. This percentage increases to over 50% in municipalities such as Tijuana and Tecate (Baja California). Baja California and Sonora have received most of the migrants deported from the USA. Jointly, 67% of the cases recorded took place in these two states. Men make up the vast majority of Mexicans repatriated from the United States, totalling 91% versus 9% women. However, the qualitative experience of this repatriation will not be the same for men and women, with the latter being the most vulnerable as, in most cases, they take their dependent children with them. But it is also notable that the vast majority of repatriation events involve young migrants; almost half are between 20 and 29 years old. Between January and October 2018, 9,348 minors (MENAS) were handed over to the Mexican authorities by their American peers, which represents 6% of the total.

    The journeys taken by migrants

    Also, it would not be entirely fair to present this work, which is sponsored by EUROsociAL+, only with statistical data. It is also only right to take into account the human dimension of all these experiences of “transition” that are exponentially increased by inequality.

    Devoid of rights, and even devoid of the right to possess rights, undocumented migrants are nowadays the clearest expression of the conscious deprivation of basic human rights for a whole human group. By excluding them from legality, the State places undocumented migrants outside the limits of the law, at the same time that it applies laws that systematically exclude them. In other words, the vulnerability of this group is largely caused by the denial of their right of access to justice, and EUROsociAL+ is working to change this situation. Access to justice is a key right, which acts as a kind of gateway for access to basic services such as health, education, housing, employment, and so on. But it also entails the defence of aliens detained or deprived of liberty, care for victims of gender violence and legal assistance for unaccompanied minors.

    Perhaps this ambiguous situation of being “outside the law” has led to certain situations of violence that migrants themselves suffer in their journey across borders. Without a legal framework that protects them, in no-man’s land, their lack of protection is greater and, therefore, their rights are weakened. One of the clearest examples of this form of violence is suffered by women.  Women are in a very vulnerable situation when crossing borders. And EUROsociAL+ is addressing precisely the differentiated effects of corruption on women, pursuing two phenomena that do not always intersect: corruption and trafficking. Added to this equation is a more variable one, migration, since most women who are trafficked are also migrants.

    At the border, migrants are at a crossroads between here and there, with their belongings in a backpack or in a plastic bag, and their dreams and hopes running high. In this border space, these people prefer information which is informal, which comes from family and friends, over any other source, to compensate for the extreme vulnerability of their border experience. Aware of this situation, EUROsociAL+ is also working so that this vulnerable group can fully exercise their right to access information; improving passive transparency with institutions that have the competence to manage this migratory phenomenon, but also a transparency that is active, promoting the exercise of these peoples’ rights to request basic information that can improve their lives in a country they do not know.

    The border is a point of transition, of transience, a temporary place that increases their vulnerability, the difficulties they face. Sharing such vulnerability allows them to create deep ties during their short stay at the border, while deciding whether to move on or establish their new residence in the transit territories. Either decision will push them towards the most disadvantaged aspect of inequality. Governments must not forget about borders and must use all the instruments at their disposal so that the effects of their public policies also reach the inhospitable territories that are often forgotten.

    Bárbara Gómez, Project Technician for the EUROsociAL+ Democratic Governance area at FIIAPP

    [1] The Colegio de la Frontera, Northern Mexico (COLEF), 2018.

  • 21 July 2020

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    Posteado en : Opinion

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    Criminal defence in police stations, a lesson learned from the “social outcry” in Chile

    In this post, Chilean National Defender, Andrés Mahnke, talks about the progress made in Chile's criminal defence with the EUROsociAL+ project

    Andrés Mahnke junto a dos oficiales carabineros.

    The so-called “social outcry” started in Chile on 18 October 2019 and transformed the country’s agenda, not only because its citizens demanded it, and because it exposed the activities of public institutions which now, more than ever, were struggling to cope with hitherto unseen scenarios stemming from the demonstrations.

    The Chilean social outcry attracted international interest, since it included loss of life and hundreds of people with ocular mutilation, numerous complaints of serious human rights violations, and destruction of public and private infrastructures, among other consequences. As a result, the country received visits from representatives of several international human rights organisations, such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

    In all these areas, Chilean justice and its actors had to take action, monitored by the justice system and the close scrutiny of an empowered citizenry and the international community. In this context, a series of adjustments and learnings took place, which started to become visible during the first quarter of 2020, and which had their acid test during March of this year.

    However, this story had an unexpected twist, which dominated all scenarios and modified all agendas: the SARS-CoV2 Coronavirus, which causes the disease known as Covid19 . A few weeks after the disease reared its head in Chile, it forced a change to the electoral calendar for the beginning of the constitutional process and caused something which was unthinkable just weeks earlier: the end of mass social protest in public spaces. People went home and the streets were empty, in the same way as happened almost all over the world.

    But reflection on the changes to the justice system and the lessons learned from the ‘outbreak’ must not stop. In fact, they have become even more essential to resume the fluidity of public activity when the health emergency ends. Nor does the outcry seem to have disappeared, rather it has been put on hold with a few resurgences due to the lack of food during the quarantine. Everything suggests the social and economic impact of the pandemic will exacerbate existing inequalities. Therefore, this period has been an opportunity to integrate our learning and anticipate future scenarios.

    In the social protest scenario, one indirect effect was connected to the work of the different actors in the criminal system facing an unprecedented challenge in terms of coverage and operational capacity, because of the notable increase in the number of people detained and processed.

    Between 18 October and 13 November 2019, the Chilean Public Criminal Defender’s Office – a public institution that guarantees the right to defence and which is made up of 722 officials and 524 external providers – attended to 20,645 people under arrest, an increase of 25.4% compared to the same period of the previous year.

    These increases, however, were even greater during the initial days of the crisis. Between 20 and 28 October, a period during which much of Chile was under a “state of constitutional exception”, the institution registered 10,712 defendants undergoing detention reviews, representing an increase of 70% compared to the same period in 2018. Furthermore, whereas on average there are between 600 and 650 daily detention reviews in the country, at that time they increased to 1,100 daily hearings, reaching a peak of 2,508 detention reviews on 21 October.

    Beyond this work, an initial conclusion showed that an indeterminate number of detainees were not assisted by public defenders, either because the Public Ministry had decided not to transfer them to detention review, or because the police did not report that they had been arrested. This meant that there was no jurisdictional control of these activities and there were no records.

    This triggered a contingency plan in Public Defence to attend to people detained in the police units, because by institutional design, defenders are in contact with the detainee just before the detention review hearing before the supervisory judge. Although public defenders set up informal service centres in police stations and other police detention facilities, this gave direct coverage to only 105 of the 900 police stations in the country.

    This gap need to be filled urgently, since numerous people’s rights have been violated, as described in reports from the human rights organisations who visited the country.

    Institutionally, the Chilean Public Criminal Defender’s Office activated different measures, such as strengthening the dissemination of rights , coordinating with the rest of the actors in the system, and opening channels for collaboration with the police, among others.

    However, the main initiative that followed the period of social crisis in Chile stemmed from the support lent by EUROsociAL+, European Union programme managed by the FIIAPP, whose specialists are currently collaborating with Public Defenders to prepare a ‘Criminal defence protocol for the initial hours following arrest‘.

    Its main objective is to find a means to provide coverage that guarantees the right of detained persons to a defence lawyer in the shortest possible time, thus protecting their right to technical defence. Furthermore, as international organisations that promote and protect human rights have revealed, the presence of a defence lawyer is a safeguard to protect the detained person’s other rights, particularly to prevent torture.

    These actions enable comprehensive, effective achievement of the institutional mission to guarantee the right to defence of any accused person at all stages of the criminal process, preventing violation of rights and strengthening judicial detention review, providing public defenders with more tools to appeal against the punitive power of the State on an equal footing before the courts of justice.

    The objective is always the same: to reinforce institutional commitment to the rule of law, a peaceful society and democracy in Chile, a task for which we are grateful to have the steadfast, permanent support of European cooperation.

     

    By Andrés Mahnke M., National Defender (Chilean Public Criminal Defender)

    In relation to the work done together with the Chilean Public Criminal Defender’s Office, the EUROsociAL+ programme has just published a diagnosis of the criminal defence of people in the first few hours of detention in the Latin American country.

     

     

  • 16 July 2020

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    Posteado en : Opinion

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    Experimental and behavioural economics methodologies applied to public policy evaluation

    Marta Monterrubio, a specialist from the Triangular Cooperation project for Public Policy Evaluation in Latin America and the Caribbean, tells us about this discipline in the context of COVID-19

    As part of the EVALÚA project led by the FIIAPP and financed by the European Union, a methodological guide to the experimental and behavioural economics methodologies applied to public policy evaluation has been prepared. The author of the guide, Diego Aycinena Abascal, a professor at the Universidad del Rosario in Bogotá and a visiting researcher at the Economic Science Institute at Chapman University in Orange, has compiled some of the most significant findings of behavioural experiments since the discipline was created 50 years ago, with the aim of making these easy for decision-makers to access and use.

     

    What is the impact of biases and non-standard preferences during the COVID-19 crisis?

    Classical political economy holds that human beings are what is known as “homus economicus”, which basically means that we make decisions by weighing up the cost and the benefit of our actions, so that the latter outweighs the former. However, since the mid 20th century, experiments have shown that the courses of action that we choose tend to deviate from this model.

    Non-standard preferences, non-standard beliefs and non-standard decision-making

    These concepts show that human beings do not always behave in a rational manner, because we are influenced by biases, intuitions and false beliefs. One very common behaviour is loss aversion (bias) which implies we would rather not lose now than gain more later. Myopic loss aversion is a combination of the above with risk, and can prompt us to act in ways that lead to a negative medium-term result. Our perception of loss is completely different to our perception of profit when a risk is involved, as shown by the theory of the prospects. When faced with a risk, we would rather not lose now rather than make a profit later. Otherwise put, when faced with a potential loss, we take risks, but when presented with a possible gain, we look for security.

    Present bias and self-control problems involve inconsistent behaviours and show that our willpower has limits. We might make a decision and then put it off more or less indefinitely. This frequently manifests in spending money to make up for a lack of motivation or action, for example, by buying “miracle products” instead of starting the diet we had planned.

    Observation of social norms suggests that when choosing a course of action, we consider more than the potential losses and gains. We also consider whether the action is in line with what our peers (our social circle) tend to do and consider appropriate in such a situation. Because of this, our decisions are influenced greatly by the societies in which we live, which can weigh more than result of the cost/benefit equation.

    Hindsight bias is the tendency for people with knowledge of an outcome to falsely believe that they would have predicted the outcome of an event, exaggerating the similarity between their ex-post beliefs and their beliefs prior to an informational event.

    Prominence preference, although an irrational strategy, steers people to choose the most striking option or one that stands out for spurious reasons, such as aesthetics or a prominent physical position (supermarket shelf, for example).

    Ultimately, many of these phenomena (self-control issues, social preferences, social norms, over-projection of preferences) can be chalked up to emotions and feelings. Psychological literature reveals the role of emotions as a mechanism that mediates our behaviour. However, these psychological findings have recently begun to be incorporated into public policy.

     

    Biases, false beliefs and non-standard preferences during the COVID-19 crisis

    They influence our decisions and daily lives more than we think. For example, since the pandemic appeared we have seen loss aversion bias influence many governments’ decision-making, particularly in the beginning, when they were still ignorant of the magnitude of what lay ahead. Many put off imposing draconian isolation measures for fear of economic hardship, failing to grasp that the initial losses would avoid having to pay a high price later on. This is closely related to the prospect theory, which includes the previous bias in a risk situation. Other biases like optimism and the illusion of control have also been common, causing many people to resort to futile remedies, pseudo-science and superstition, and the spread of an enormous number of hoaxes and lies about the pandemic.

    The hindsight bias stated above is frequent, among the multitude of opinions around us, to the extent that one might be forgiven for thinking that almost everyone already knew what was going to happen and which would be the best decisions to make right from the start.

    Social norms have clearly influenced our behaviour during confinement, with non-compliance or stricter compliance with the rules conditioned by what has been happening in the immediate environment (family, neighbourhood, municipality).

    We have also seen some political or social leaders urging disobedience with regulations, questioning their effectiveness or legitimacy, albeit on a more psychological than economic level. Authority bias makes people predisposed to believing that if an authority gives us permission to break the law and even cross the moral line, we feel prone to do so, which has recently happened in certain cases.

    The optimistic bias leads us to project our own wishes onto objective data. As already mentioned, which has been observed during the de-escalation. We tend to think that the risk is lessening, causing people to stop taking precautions which are clearly necessary if we analyse the data carefully.

    These are just a few examples of how we behave irrationally and take irrational decisions, both large and small. Understanding this irrationality and the mental shortcuts we make can be helpful when we make personal decisions, but it is crucial for public policy decision makers.

     What are nudges?

    Nudges are behavioural statements frequently used to promote public policies. Nudges are designed to influence our decisions by modifying the decision-making architecture, without substantially modifying incentives or restricting options using premises of behavioural economics.

    Nudges have become extremely popular because they are suitable for making low-cost statements based on soft or libertarian paternalism without resorting to prohibitions or restrictions. There are several successful documented cases of statements using nudges, for example, to encourage organ donation, quit smoking through commitments, reduce OR deaths with check-lists, improve loan repayment rates with personalised reminders, increase compliance with tax payments, among others.

    However, nudges must be designed carefully, otherwise they may be ineffective, counter-productive or used for other purposes. Some of these biases may lead us to overestimate the likelihood that nudges will be a success. The statements that lead to success get the most attention and those that fail are often ignored or forgotten. In addition, it has been seen that the effects of some statements are short-lived and the lack of long-term improvement is ignored. Therefore, the likelihood of success of a behavioural statement or a nudge is only as good as the behavioural foundation on which it is based.

     

    Behavioural experiments applied to public policies.

    Behavioural experiments have been widely used in consumer affairs, political marketing, investment and finance, and other fields. Their application to public policy, in terms of design, management and evaluation, is far more recent. However, there is some experience that allows us to extract some important learnings:

    1. Experimental data is replicable insofar as it allows knowledge to be built based on previous findings. This facilitates a cumulative and systematic process of experimental learning. Consequently, a store of generalised knowledge is built that supports the design of public policiesand makes them relevant and viable.

     

    1. The findings of these experiments allow us to observe variables directly, something that would not be possible otherwise. For example, observing antisocial behaviours that people would try to conceal outside the laboratory (it would only be possible to observe complaints), such as taking money earned by third parties, or filing false income statements to avoid taxes and obligations.

     

    1. Field experiments can be used in an enormous number of subject areas, for example, they have been successful for evaluating actions aimed at increasing electoral participation, measuring corruption in educational qualifications, measuring reductions in water or energy consumption and to increase recycling and determine responses to improve tax compliance.

     

    1. There are different types of experiments. By their nature, laboratory, artefactual, and framing experiments are cheaper and have a comparative advantage in helping us understand mechanisms and giving us valuable information before implementing a policy or programme through scale testing. Experiments in the natural field have a comparative advantage for evaluating the impact of previously implemented policies and programmes, and for accurately measuring their effects on the specific population of interest in its natural context. Their approaches can be complementary, as has been seen in combinations of artefactual field experiments with natural field experiments.

    The Methodological Guide is a tool available to institutions to help select the most suitable type of experiment and for dissecting the roadmap for implementation, defining the steps for development and describing the advantages and limitations.

     

     

     

  • 09 July 2020

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    Posteado en : Opinion

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    “The joy of seeing how a sector was modernising and adapting to the European Union”

    Javier Ocón has been a FIIAPP expert on several wine projects in Romania. Today he tells us about his relationship with his Romanian counterparts and his last trip to the country to which he has given so much and from which he has received so much.

    Entrevista a Javier Ocón en Rumanía

    The FIIAPP Communication Department has asked me to write a few lines about my impressions of my last trip to Romania to see the colleagues I worked with on the twinning projects we ran with the La Rioja regional government between 2002 and 2007. The truth is, it has always been easy for me to talk about things and difficult to write about them; but this time it will be especially difficult because I don’t have to talk about things, I have to put my feelings into words.

    Even now, 13 years after finishing the projects, I am still in contact with all of them, and I am not an exception in this, as this happens to all of us who participate in twinning projects. The projects have ended, but we are left with friends, memories and above all the feeling that we are still there and that the work is continuing.

    If you had asked me before what a friend is, I would have said a friend is someone who, if you haven’t spoken to them or seen them for a while, when you meet them again, you pick up your conversation as if you had seen each other the day before. This idea, which I had many years ago, has changed as a result of my experience in Romania and now I express it in the words of another friend, colleague and at one point my “BOSS” who led the first project we carried out in 2002, Enrique García-Escudero. With the friends/colleagues on the project in Romania we have been saying fond farewells for 13 years because we were no longer going to meet and 6 months later we had found a reason (or it was an excuse, I’m not sure) to get back together and carry out another activity together.

    In short, the human relationships that were created on these projects have been one of the pleasures that have motivated us to work, and I have to say, to work hard, very hard, but nothing is difficult or hard if you enjoy doing it: as we say in Spanish “sarna con gusto no pica”, which roughly translates as “if you enjoy having scabies it doesn’t itch”.

    But I must stress that also in these projects, specifically in the Romanian wine sector, we have had the joy of seeing how a sector was modernising, adapting to the European Union’s rules and with total success. How they have used their entry into the common market to adapt their production structures and modernise their sector to levels that are truly incredible, taking advantage of the opportunities presented to them when they entered the European Union to improve their production structure and see how the benefits of this were transferred to the employees and the population in the rural areas where the wine was produced. Vines are one of the crops that, due to the need for a permanent workforce, brings more population to rural areas, and this is a joy and a source of pride because, as good humans, we jump to the conclusion that we have done some of this (or at least we have helped), us and our Romanian colleagues.

    And when I speak or write, as is the case now, about my Romanian colleagues, I must stress that they are only part of the whole, because this piece would not be complete without mentioning the relationships that have developed between the Spanish team that travelled to Romania. If you think it was normal that as partners and friends we would strengthen our personal relationships, you cannot imagine to what extent we have developed them and how the work often put our friendships to the test, because not everybody had the same interests. We all wanted the resources to go to our part of the project, we all considered that our part was the most important and that we had to be given priority until… the time came to take a break, so we all got together to tell each other how the day had gone, what our problems had been and above all enjoy each other’s company.

     

    All this would have been enough to make the projects good, but there has been yet another even more important factor, although one not so evident. The amount that those of us who considered ourselves experts learned. When we faced a new challenge, we had to review one by one all the principles that governed our work and looking at this from the outside was the ideal opportunity to see how we could improve our work.

    To sum up: 5 years of projects, 13 years interacting without any projects, many calls, many emails, many trips and 700 words in this essay. I would do it all again tomorrow.

    José Javier Ocón Berango

    Expert in Vineyard Registration with the La Rioja Ministry of Agriculture in twinning projects in Romania.

     

  • 25 June 2020

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    Posteado en : Opinion

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    “The global challenge is clear: the widening in the gender gap is a reality”

    Icíar Bosch, Jimena Cazzaniga and Ana Cirujano, FIIAPP colleagues who are also part of the Foundation's gender group, tell us how they see gender equality as being in danger at the global level due to the Covid-19 crisis.

    FIIAPP's Women

    It is a reality that the crisis generated by Covid-19 jeopardises the progress of the 2030 Agenda, especially the aspects linked to gender equality. In this complex situation, FIIAPP, through its know-how, is committed to not leaving women behind. As the figures demonstrate, women are more exposed to the virus and its social and economic impacts: approximately 70% of health staff in the world are women, as well as 80% of domestic and care personnel. On the other hand, caring for dependent relatives falls to a greater extent on women. As if this were not enough, it is women who represent the highest percentage of informal and part-time workers worldwide.

    FIIAPP can provide solutions in the form of public policy that take the gender perspective into account

    At FIIAPP, we have seen that strengthening public policies with a gender equality focus can aim to improve citizens’ lives. For example, during this crisis there is less access to sexual and reproductive health and a serious increase in gender-based violence. FIIAPP works in this field from different perspectives, such as supporting the creation of a Department of Gender Violence within AMERIPOL.

    On the other hand, the EUROsociAL+ Programme’s Democratic Governance Area has implemented innovative actions such as incorporating the gender perspective in systems to promote transparency and access to information, the differential impact of corruption on women, access to justice for especially vulnerable groups of women or assisting Latin American countries in implementing budgets with a gender perspective as an instrument to reduce inequalities.

    We consider that the need for women’s empowerment in times of crisis such as the current one is a central element when considering development strategies. Sometimes, the specific effects of a particular form of violence against them are added to this situation. Another example is occurring in the Sahel region, where women are seeing their rights being systematically limited. In the GAR-SI SAHEL project, FIIAPP has included a gender approach, not only to specifically protect women in conflict situations, but also as a commitment to the empowerment of women in the security forces and to increase the presence of women in these units.

    It also happens that the general discourse that frames the coronavirus crisis is profoundly masculine and riddled with warlike similes, in contrast, communication with equity should be present and extend to the use of an inclusive language that enables the visibility of women and girls. At FIIAPP, both in its communication department and in various programmes, there is a firm commitment regarding the use of non-discriminatory language. For example, the EU-Cuba Experience Exchange project to promote renewable energy sources and energy efficiency in Cuba, takes care to use inclusive language every time it communicates through an invitation, presentation, etc.

    This is why, at a time when the inclusion of the gender perspective is perceived as a secondary aspect, projects such as Living Together Without Discrimination are recognised as being valuable. The latter is an approach based on human rights and gender in which FIIAPP contributes technical assistance specialising in gender. After a thorough diagnosis, a series of tools were developed that allow all the people and institutions involved to integrate the gender perspective throughout the intervention. This enabled the existence of specific guidelines that ensure the incorporation of the gender perspective in each of the project’s tasks, processes, activities and results. As a result of all this work, the project has managed to ensure that gender-balanced candidate lists are positively considered in FIIAPP recruitment processes.

    But despite the enormous amount of information produced on the Covid-19 crisis, there are very few analyses that contain data on the situation of women, who are once again invisible. The gender impact of the various crises, including the climate crisis, is an undeniable fact. In the framework of programmes managed by FIIAPP such as EUROCLIMA+, initiatives that take into account the gender perspective are promoted, specifically through the collection and use of information disaggregated by sex, the establishment of gender-sensitive indicators, the creation of methods to facilitate the participation and consultation of women, as well as monitoring, evaluation and accountability from a gender perspective.

    As we mentioned before, women occupy a high percentage of precarious and informal jobs, many of them linked to unrecognised care tasks. The solution to the current crisis lies in repositioning these jobs and economically empowering women. For example, the Bridging the Gap (BtG) programme, being aware of such discrimination on multiple levels, is working to improve the employability of disabled women or those who have disabled children. Empowerment, as in other FIIAPP actions, is at the centre of BtG’s action to achieve women’s autonomy.

    These initiatives, selected from a series of proposals compiled by the FIIAPP Knowledge Management team, demonstrate that the raw material is there. However, it is necessary, on the one hand, to systematise and make this work visible, and on the other, to put this experience at the service of a gender strategy.  In this sense, FIIAPP is working, with the support of a group of professionals from within the organisation, on preparing and implementing its 1st Equality Plan. This tool has a double internal and external objective: to promote gender equality within the institution, as well as to equip the institution itself with the tools and processes that allow it to be systematically incorporated into the projects managed by the institution.

    With the arrival of the pandemic and the implementation of different emergency measures to face it, the global challenge is clear: the widening of the gender gap is a reality. It is our responsibility to work to minimise it, the solution is to be found in gender equality.

    Icíar Bosch, Jimena Cazzaniga and Ana Cirujano

    Project technicians in the FIIAPP gender team