"I agree with both sides"

By Laura TomassiniGilles Kayser Switch to German for original article

While the views of activists and the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs on development policy could not be further apart, Nicole Ikuku, director of the Cercle de Coopération of Luxembourg NGOs, can see justice and injustice in both sides' arguments but pleads for some differentiation. An interview.

Lëtzebuerger Journal: Activists like the former president of Lëtz Rise Up, Sandrine Gashonga, strongly criticise the background and approach of the European development policy and describe it as colonialistic. How do you see this criticism in relation to Luxembourg?

Nicole Ikuku: In this country, there is a big variety of large non-governmental organisations (NGOs) of which some have been around for a long time and have a lot of experience in the field of development aid. They are familiar with and can fall back on concrete case studies, not only regarding the needs or problems of the partner organisations in their respective national or regional contexts, but also regarding their expertise: In which area can we as a country contribute to improvement? And that's where cooperation comes in.

For me, there is a simple reason why opinions on development aid are so different: activists like Sandrine Gashonga know the reality of a country but look at the issue mainly from a social or intercultural point of view. They may not always see behind the various procedures at the legal and ministerial level, what really happens there in terms of pre- and post-control. On the other hand, there are of course also points of criticism, especially in relation to political decisions. We as a platform are there to question the work of policy-makers, to address incoherencies and address the issues. At the NGO level, we are there to reflect, strengthen the competences of our affiliates and represent them in order to improve their actions in this way.

You talk about control, what does it look like in Luxembourg?

There is a clear legal framework and a whole list of criteria that an NGO must fulfil in order to be recognised and co-financed by the state. This is called the 'cadre logique', so the General Terms and Conditions governing relations between MAEE (Ministère des Affaires étrangères et européennes, ed.) and NGOs, through which we accompany our members. To be recognised as an NGO and have access to public co-financing, accreditation by the Ministry is required. Submitted projects must include clear objectives as well as provide their own impact and any challenges. They must formulate specific objectives and intermediate results, including hypotheses and possible risks. This is done using so-called objectively verifiable indicators an interim evaluations.

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For whom are we actually "developing"?