Written By Frances from Fantsuam Foundation
When Fantsuam Foundation began to develop its services in 2001 to meet the development priorities of its host communities, it had no idea that the strategy it was deploying had a name: it is now called ‘integrated development’. Visitors to Fantsuam were often surprised at the array of services provided and some funders even suggested that we prune them down and ‘specialise’. To its credit, it was only Dadamac that saw the logic of our strategy and encouraged us to stick with it, rather than pander to the flavour-of-the-month approach of funding agencies. It was gratifying to discover several years later, that the UN-funded Millenium Villages Project of Jeffery Sacchs (one of the authors of the Millenium Development Goals) had also adopted the integrated development approach.
Recently some funding agencies have come full circle to promote ‘integrated development’ as a gold standard. However Fantsuam went one step ahead of the pack in its early adoption of ICT as a tool in its development. Again Fantsuam worked closely with Dadamac in pursuing this strategy. When the Fantsuam local Cisco Academy faced risk of imminent closure due to its inability to purchase a new set of Cisco bundles, it was Dadamac that looked within its global network and contacted the Cisco Regional office to support our cause.
Dadamac raises the voice of Fantsuam through the use of ICT
Such interventions by Dadamac have provided a lifeline for Fantsuam’s integrated model of development. When a London-based organisation like Dadamac puts in a word for a rural organisation in the middle of nowhere in northern Nigeria, folks tend to take a second look and give us an audience. Dadamac helps to raise the Fantsuam voice at the global stage and makes our stories reach those places it would otherwise not reach.
Dadamac understands what regular and relevant information can do for a relatively isolated rural NGO, far from the urban comforts of a regular grid, good roads and affordable internet. By exploring affordable and relevant technology options, Fantsuam and Dadamac are able to meet weekly to share information, albeit over mobile and internet connections that are sometimes faulty. The Fantsuam/ Dadamac collaboration shows what ICTs can achieve when harnessed by developing and developed economies. Dadamac located in London keeps Fantsuam abreast of opportunities and resources that it can use for its integrated development programme in a village in northern Nigeria
Making the links.
This lifeline has made it possible for Fantsuam to update its blog regularly, to give a taster of the work it is doing. When the Fantsuam website went down from a malicious DDOS attack, it was Dadamac that quickly mobilised its network to get us back online, and linked us up with a social entrepreneur to redesign our website. Fantsuam’s blogs on the Dadamac website have become a valuable tool which we frequently mention in our funding proposals and reports. It is always encouraging to get feedback through successful grant applications or from people who ask for further information about activities or when blogs trigger new partnerships and expand our network.
The work between Fantsuam and Dadamac is a model of how international development work can be done. The vision is to connect funding organisations directly with people on the ground and have true collaboration that produces sustainable results