Citizen implication in social transformation

As Director of the Jesuit Refugee and Migrant Service, JRMS, and of the Social Studies Centre P. Juan Montalvo (CES Montalvo) in Dominican Republic, Mario Serrano SJ has had the occasion to see that the true development of a country goes through the implication of its citizens in solving problems and finding solutions." Spain has not been developed by foreign NGOs...The main development force of a country are its own resources, human, natural, economic etc. The goal is for the NGOs to gradually disappear and the citizens may take charge of their own progress" he says.

What Mario Serrano calls "citizen implication", in international cooperation is specifically called "project appropriation", that means that , currently, one of the ways to measure cooperation quality is the degree in which the local population is involved in the development processes promoted by a specific NGO or organization. Thus, the greater implication of the population in the project, the grater quality in the work, since the cooperation of citizens and the assumption of responsibilities by the country's institutions guarantee the success of the intervention.

However, a strengthened and articulated population is needed

"43% of the Dominican Republic's population does not have its basic needs covered" says Mario Serrano, "Beyond its tourism and being famous for the "all included" slogan, the Dominican Republic has real poverty, with low wages and no social assistance, etc.

Poverty is tied to underdevelopment in a circular way, one thing produces the other and vice versa. In an impoverished country, with a high degree of unemployment, where half of the population is hungry or where there is no full social sanitary assistance, the greatest worry of people is to survive; this is why "a sufficiently empowered citizenship, to pressure the government and demand changes, does not exist".
This is where the JRMS and the CES Montalvo aim to impact. Both organizations seek to identify the weaknesses of the Dominican society and work with the people so that they may become aware of their real capacities and their rights and they may learn to organize themselves and to weave solid networks in which to build their future. According to Mario Serrano the contributions of the JRMS and the CES Montalvo could be the following:

  • Accompany and promote social initiatives
  • Strengthen existing organisations and train their leaders.
  • Public advocacy after a deep analysis of the situation
  • Promote political culture among citizens
  • Encourage intercultural processes so as to reduce xenophobia against Haitian immigrants
  • Promote social articulation