Nishi and People's Movements
People's Movements (PMs) mobilise the skills, expertise and energy of large numbers of people to tackle a particular issue. In doing this they can bring about substantial change.
PMs are often single issue protest movements. For Nishi the single issue is illiteracy combined with protesting against the shame and poverty that is associated with it – something that most literate people find abhorrent.
With Social energy being a key resource PM's also tend to be very low cost and highly effective – as a general rule of thumb unit costs tend to be about a twentieth of other modalities. This is important in adult literacy work where there is little donor interest and where numbers are very large – probably around 50 million illiterate people in Bangladesh. It is also important for a self-financing movement and is an aspect that makes the goal of an illiteracy free Bangladesh attainable.
PM's are often precarious and difficult to sustain. One of the challenges Nishi faces is ensuring its sustainability to meet its goal of an illiteracy free Bangladesh. True people's movement's are also self-financing. Another challenge is to enable this to happen, especially in a sector where donor finance disappears like water in desert sand. These challenges cannot be ignored or glossed over and we intend to develop ways of meeting them during our initial development phase.
PM's also enable people and communities to do something for themselves – “autonomous development” and so help to lessen the dependency that can be a consequence of “aid”. They are not 'top down' or 'bottom up' but foster activity and 'development from within' communities.
Find out more about some of the challenges and opportunities that we face in re-starting Nishi in our “Nishi Insight piece”: How People's Movements differ from NGOs