The Road from Rio: Sustainable Development and the Nongovernmental Movement in the Third World

By Julie Fisher | Go to book overview

3
GRO Networks

[Networks reach] back . . . before simple human relationships became obscured by hierarchy and bureaucracy. In other respects, networks . . . leap forward . . . with globe-encompassing capability that subsumes the enduring aspects of authority and bureaucracy.

Lipnack and Stamps, 1984:294-296

What's interesting is that this [network] was something created out of our own heads, all of us together. We discovered that this struggle was . . . the only alternative that we had in order to resist.

Chico Mendes

After a women's group in a village in Burkina Faso received a small cereal mill from UNICEF, they decided to pay a small amount each time they used it. The woman in charge of the mill explained that good fortune should be shared with even poorer people. "The mill that UNICEF has given us is a father-mill: he must make a son to take his place when he is old and weary, and a daughter to give to the neighboring village. Set the price of milling so that these children can be raised." 1 These words not only convey an understanding of sustainability and scaling out, they also illustrate the impressive mixture of idealism and pragmatism fueling the creation of GRO networks.

There are three general types of horizontal networks at the grassroots level in the Third World today: regional networks of individual GROs, informal economic networks, and more amorphous grassroots movements that extend beyond one locality but may not be based on GROs. Regional GRO networks and informal economic networks may be organized locally

-57-

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