My logo features a ‘backyard’ chicken. Chickens are a great albeit modest source of material wellbeing in developing countries: they eat scraps and bugs and give you eggs and meat, protein to make your kids grow. With a bit of investment backyard chickens (pollos de rancho, kuku wa kienyeji) are an easy business to get into. Connoisseurs of good food in Africa prefer the flavoursome flesh of backyard chickens to that of tender but insipid intensively ‘farmed’ factory chickens. And the eggs market in Dar es Salaam is a marvel of quiet, resilient self-sufficiency where lots of people make a good living.
There’s also an NGO in-joke here from my time at the Finnish NGO platform Kepa. I hate waste and lost opportunities and once likened our partnerships to a chicken. With chickens we often use just one bit, say, the breast or thighs. But the same chicken can be used for so much more: feathers for a duster. Feet for Cantonese soup. Entrails for telling fortunes (‘haruspicy’). Head for ‘walkie talkies‘. Poo for fertiliser. Liver for paté. Bones for stock. You just need to work a bit more on your chicken.
With a partnership (a mutually supportive working relationship with a fellow organisation) I suggested we could also do more: interview them for background info, blogs and videos; consult them as trainers; set them up with Finnish member NGOs for quick advice sessions; invite them to speak at the annual festival; go through the Partnership Compass tool with them; compare notes on partnerships in different country offices; write up our experiences as training case studies – in short, getting more out of the partnerships, in addition to the outputs and activities we already did together.
I’m happy to say we worked on this in the last Kepa programme and made progress! As a fan of brown meat and picking over the carcass of a roast chicken, I like to encourage us all to take care and use the things we have thoroughly. And conversely, to do and make things thoroughly and with care: listening and exploring instead of rushing; quality handwork instead of mass-produced cheap crap. This way lies environmental and economic sustainability and decent work.