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The free actor, the chameleon & the baby;

Published on: 20/04/2012

Over the past days we discussed the conditions that have to be in place for a Resource Centre Network (RCN) to act as a vehicle for WASH sector learning.

One of the conditions is to have a strong facilitator or coordinator in place. RCN facilitators in the ideal world have the right background, with the right skills the ability to bring people together and support from others (practical support in the form of a secretariat, or back-up by key movers in the sector). He or she should have access to all sector stakeholders, including politicians. The facilitator should be able to operate as some kind of free actor, neutral even, though up to a certain point only, as it will be sometimes necessary to push for things on the agenda. The word chameleon, was mentioned a few times: adapting to the environment in which sector actors operate, working with what is available in the sector environment, enabling and facilitating.

Another condition that was discussed is to have the resource centre network registered as an autonomous entity, as has happened with the Resource Centre Network Nepal, which was registered officially in December last year. Being registered can. help the resource centre networks to independently write and submit funding proposals. Not all present in our workshop agreed that being registered was really a core condition for RCNs to enabling sector learning. In some countries the resource centre network is actually considered to be the sector baby (being taken care of by allsector stakeholders). It could be that the necessary nurturing and feeding by the parents (members of the RCN) is one of the most essential things in keeping the baby alive and going. In that case,  having the RCN registered as an autonomous organisation, might be a threat to the survival of the RCN, if it was seen to compete with what were once the parents, the resource centre network members. The added value of the network for its members and the sector as a whole has to be regularly re-assessed.  

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