Budget monitoring: an exquisite gift of brazilian friends
Publicado em Oct 31, 2016 03:13 PM
My name is Mellouki Cadat. I am 57 and a senior consultant for Movisie, The Netherlands Institute for community development. We are based in Utrecht, in the middle of the Low Countries. My academic background is in political science and law. From the ethnic and racial point of view, I am a Metis, being from mixed stock both African and European. My mother was a Britton and I had a Saharan father. I grew up in Algeria and France. I have the French nationality. I use to leave for more than a quarter of a century in the Netherlands. I have a wonderful partner and a great son.
As a citizen I feel quite strongly the call for the participation adventure. I am for instance the Consular Delegate of French nationals in the Netherlands. In Amsterdam East, my residence, I am member of this group of community builders that have introduced in the Netherlands and Europa - with INESC's support - the methodology of budget monitoring based on a human right's perspective.
Budget monitoring was indeed a strong journey. I had been involved for many years in the adventure of community development. We, the People, face in the Netherlands a withering away of the Welfare state. It is characterized by budget cuts and a gradual breakdown of the local social infrastructure. Then the question is: are that just the right cuts? How can we monitor and adjust this? And the following question sounds: Where goes our money? There is then a strong call to do something about local finances. But what? The Netherlands has only a limited experience ofparticipatory budgeting, some of them quite negative, mainly due to lack of skills and knowledge among involved citizens. Meeting Iara Pietricovsky de Oliviera in 2011 in my neighborhood was so inspiring. It made the difference. She is an amazing mentor. Iara visited us with the E-motive exchange program. I travelled to Brasilia as part of a visiting group of Dutch community leaders like Firoez Azarhoosh, Mustapha El Jarmouni and helpers like Marjan Delzenne and Pierre Mehlkopf. We learned there from INESC the basics on Popular Education, Human Rights and Budget Monitoring. Most importantly: we build an international alliance, a fellowship over the ocean. Back in Amsterdam East, my fellows and me, we decided to implement budget monitoring in an area, the so called Indian Neighborhood of Amsterdam East. It is right there that I live. We mobilized the local communities. We founded the Dutch Center for Budget Monitoring and Citizenship from which I am a trainer. We developed with ups and downs our own grass-root pathway to monitor and develop budget proposals from bottom-up.
First the local politicians in charge and their civil servants were reluctant. They acted as gatekeeper: They would not be willing to be a communities partner. They would prefer to use budget participation as a way to commit citizens to their budget cuts. It was quite a challenge to us not to be recognized in spite of our endeavors to break down the walls of bureaucracy and to build bridges between neighborhood and district. But after a down period, we came back. We became adamant, very confident and well equipped thanks to the advice and training from the INESC's helpers ofBrasilia. It was in truth a formidable aid to us all along the path of our journey to put transparency and accountability on the Dutch local - and later national - political agenda. Confronted to our way to follow the money, people-based and from a solidarity perspective, the politicians and their civil servants came to be much more responsive. At the end of the day, our grass-roots communities were rewarded: the Amsterdam East district was eager to co-create with us a neighborhood budget along the line of participatory budgeting. We, the community organizers, we felt like Heroine and Heroes returning home with Budget Monitoring as the Elixir.
The gift of the budget monitoring hero's journey in the Netherlands has been: A neighborhood budget that was better suited to local residents needs and wishes; a mobilization on the basis of popular education of our resident communities in an innovative area of public finances; The learning and transposition in the Dutch context of a powerful participatory tool created in Brazil; The (re)introduction in the Dutch context of the Economic, social and Cultural Human Rights perspective; Demonstrating our People's power in experimenting with a disruptive participatory method in our local area: a pioneering niche of citizen makers within the Amsterdam metropole, a city in transition that has to become a transition town.
For all of us in the indian neighborhood, budget monitoring has been an exquisite gift of brazilian friends.