- Bariton Lezabbey, Communications, and Research Intern
- Christiana Banzorwa, Grants, Monitoring and Evaluation Intern
- Chidinma Chinyere Mbaegbu, Executive Director, COLIDEIN
To understand the method used by COLIDEIN on mindset change and attitude reorientation as part of their community engagement strategy when implementing funded projects.
Method Used by COLIDIEN when training on mindset change and attitude reorientation. Please describe the process ultlized in the Adult Learning Cycle?
- This involves pictorial, experience, observation, and reflection as a method of training. Videos are also used with simulation exercise/games to train the participants. For example, when describing leadership, we put the participants in pairs, one person blindfolds his/her partner then leads them blindfolded around the vicinity. After doing this exercise, participants are asked to explain their experience of being led and being a leader. This makes them understand that leadership is not all about bearing a title or occupying a position, but it is more of taking charge and responsibility for your life and situations around you. The exercise also helps illustrate the vital role that communication plays in leadership because if a leader does not communicate his/her ideas and thoughts to followers, they will not understand or support him/her, making leadership a difficult task.
Why is this particular approach needed when implementing projects in Ogoniland/Niger Delta?
- The entitlement mindset in the Niger Delta is entrenched into the very way we live. People automatically expect payment of royalities by government officials and international oil companies (IOC) prior to the commencement of any development initiative or project. For any development organization that wants to implement a project in this region, they would need to first change the attitude and mindset of people by making them understand that they cannot continue to hold the government or IOCs responsible for the development of their lives – this entitlement mindset (the blame game) has to stop and people need to become responsible for their lives – growth and development. Without changing this mindset/attitude of participants, any development initiative would not be successful.
- COLIDEIN also conducts a separate personal development training for her project beneficiaries where each person is asked to map out what they want to do to develop themselves personally and the steps to achieve them. This could also be a useful tool for buy-in while implementing a project in the community.
- Whenever you go to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) office in Port Harcourt, you get to see young people hanging around the NDDC office for the sole aim of begging for money and waiting for when they will share the [transportation stipend to participants]. When carrying out projects such as skills acquisition and training, most of the participants wanted the organizers to simply give them the money they would have spent on the training instead of setting up any development project that would help them become self-employed. We had similar cases in some communities where participants expected us to give them the money directly, but we insisted that the money was not to be shared but instead be used for the development project. So except you carry out this training on mindset and attitude orientation, your effort will yield little to no result.
What sort of changes do you notice after conducting a training on mindset and attitude orientation?
- When conducting the attitude and mindset orientation, COLIDEIN used a consultant that has benefitted from a previous project, and who has successfully set up her own farm as a facilitator. She shares her real-life practical experience with the participants on how she was able to change her attitude and mindset and took responsibility for her life.
- We notice particiants slowly begin to take responsibility for organizing the training hall and keeping the general environment clean and tidy, unlike when they first started the training.
- Before the end of the training, some of them are willing to set-up their own fish farms no matter how small it may be, not waiting for the government or their husbands to give them money.
- People in the communities that were staying practically dormant while expecting the government to give them something, slowly started taking up responsibilities, including leadership roles and small-scale business roles. For example, one of the women COLIDEIN trained in the Abuloma fish farm project, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, was made the Secretary to the Queen of her community and was recently appointed as Personal Assistant 2 to the Deputy Mayor of Port Harcourt city.
- We receive phone calls from participants thanking us for the funders and putting together such a life-transforming program, how the program has helped them to see things differently, and that they are going to implement what they have been taught. They also call to seek entrepreneurial advice.
What measures does COLIDEIN take to ensure that beneficiaries do not go back to a mindset attitude that negates any positive impact of the project?
- Mentoring: This is a key component of the project COLIDEIN carries out. Sometimes even after the duration of the project, our team stays behind to build a relationship with participants.
- Personal Relationship (one-on-one contact) with the participants to reinforce the points earlier discussed during the training.
- An annual free training to reinforce and maintain their good mindset orientation. Most times when these people start earning money, they won’t want to go back to their old ways because they become a reference point for others in the community.
Please describe some of the tactics COLIDEIN employs for community engagement?
- The most critical tactic employed is to have a trustworthy community volunteer or mobilizer who is an indigene that will aid entry into the community.
- Consulting all the relevant stakeholders such as Chiefs, Traditional Rulers, and others to get their initial support and buy-in of projects is key. This also serves as a source of accountability mechanism for the beneficiaries since the project has the approval of key stakeholders.
- Sticking to your mandate and objectives for a project as an organization can’t be over-looked. For example, one of the Royal Highness in Ogoniland wanted his wife to be part of one of our trainings, but we informed him of the eligibility criteria and the age limit for selection and he accepted. He agreed that his wife can only be part of the training for free, without any benefits attached.
- Always communicate your organization’s rules and remain firm to it without compromising to avoid people to start seeing you as being a dishonest person.
- Maintain the principles of neutrality from the beginning of your project to the end.
- Be punctual: Always arrive early before the participants for the training.
What other lessons learned from your work can you share with us?
- Always communicate the truth, be firm and don’t say one thing to one stakeholder and a different thing to another stakeholder — say what it is and mean it.
- Your community volunteer or mobilizer must not enter into any sort of agreement with the community members on your behalf; this may be done out of excitement and can impact on the project negatively.
- Your project officer or team leader must be the one to handle all the agreement terms with the community.
What communication tools does COLIDEIN use as part of its project implementation and in communicating the impact of the project to stakeholders?
- Success stories.
- Report writing on the website.
- Mini-newsletter on achievements which also include life stories and action photos.
- Personal interviews.
- Video upload on our Facebook page.