By Pojoaju, the Association of NGOs in Paraguay.
At a recent analysis and action planning meeting, organisations brought together by Pojoaju, the Association of NGOs in Paraguay, Forus' member, confirmed the importance of adopting common strategic guidelines for advocacy and collective learning, while remaining diverse. The round table called "Impact of NGOs on Sustainable Development" was held at the end of 2019, thanks to the cooperation provided by Forus, with the support of the European Union (EU) and the French Development Agency (AFD).
The platform members were consulted on harassment situations, records of unfounded accusations, for CSOs in defence of human rights or CSOs providing services to vulnerable communities. A relevant achievement of that overview was the creation of legislative proposals that restrict CSO activities in the country. In the above-mentioned roundtable, the following sharing of work experience on a particular issue was assessed as positive: specialists from Pojoaju had been asked to produce a complete study on draft laws proposals, relating to legal, political and economic aspects, as well as an exhaustive survey, of the legislation in force that regulates civil associations. This document was subsequently presented to Parliament, together with the signatures of various members. The document proposed that the bill be rejected and that a debate be opened up on this issue. As a result, meetings and debates with legislators were held at the appropriate times, and even though the bill was not definitively rejected, it was suspended, and two committee opinions were issued recommending its rejection.
Pojoaju means, in Guarani "hands together to tackle common goals". This original aim was confirmed at the recent meeting, where in addition to the analysis possible courses of action were planned for the affirmation of strengths and support for the sector, based on the evidence of the positive impact of a partnership between equals. Some of the guidelines are already being implemented with the cooperation of Forus: encouraging communication within the extensive membership and greater visibility in the endeavours being made in different areas of rights, by constantly updating the digital portal, through activity on social networks and digital bulletins, as well as joint reviews of action areas.
In dialogue with its organisations (NGOs and networks of NGOs) Pojoaju works to promote capacity-building, holding discussions with the public sector, regional authorities and international organisations. At the same time, its strategic planning and institutional sustainability constitute challenges, and work is ongoing to improve them. Faced with the questions and global changes produced by the COVID-19 pandemic, new thinking and efforts to adjust domestic practices are needed, in order to strengthen the necessary protagonism of civil society actors. It is here that the virtual spaces driven by networks such as Forus provide valuable contributions.