Racism exists in the development sector as it exists in wider society. Therefore, we must acknowledge how it manifests and take action to address the negative impacts it can have on ourselves, our colleagues, and the communities we work with. The aid sector exists to alleviate poverty, but the power dynamics of aid can reinforce power structures and systems that grew through colonisation. We must recognise this, and work with our partners openly and honestly to address racism.
The Welsh Government’s Wales and Africa programme seeks to increase solidarity and partnership globally. It is not enough to be non-racist; we should move forward to be an actively anti-racist sector, ensuring we don’t perpetuate racist behaviours and systems when working with racialised communities, in Wales and Sub-Saharan Africa.
This charter is for small charities and community groups based in Wales who work internationally, in particular with partner NGOs and community groups in Sub-Saharan Africa, on development or solidarity projects and activities.
We encourage all groups and individuals working in this sector to sign up and actively deliver the commitments in this anti-racist charter. Hub Cymru Africa and the Sub Sahara Advisory Panel can support groups and individuals to realise the aims of the charter through the toolkit below and free annual training sessions.
1. We commit to addressing racism. It is everyone’s problem, not the burden of a single group of people alone, and ending it is beneficial to all
2. We will use our positions to challenge racism where we see it, think critically about the racist structures we unknowingly uphold, and dismantle them
Discomfort as Information
This article by How Matters summarises an academic paper which at its heart discusses how we can respond appropriately to incidents and situations which make us feel uncomfortable: Comprehend, Recognise, Act, Prevent. The author Jennifer Lentfer and How Matters articles explores the skills and knowledge needed by all international “do-gooders” (professional and amateur alike) to put real resources behind local means of overcoming obstacles.
“Discomfort alerts us to an injustice that is occurring or has occurred. We can trust our discomfort with harm as it’s happening in our sector.”
On Equity in the International Development Sector: We Need More Intravists
This Devex Op-Ed Article by Blessing Omakwu outlines the internal efforts needed to change organisational structures.
“Intravism is a term I began to use when I realised that as a Nigerian-American woman climbing the ladder in the international development sector, some of the most valuable activism … would not happen in the streets, but in closed meetings and email chains.”
The Art of Effective Facilitation: From Safe Space to Brave Space
This DevEx op-ed article by Jennifer Lentfer is an introduction on how to prepare for difficult conversations.
“Changing our ways of working means slowing down and paying more deliberate, devoted attention to the culture we are building, not just the strategies and plans we make.”
3. We will work in a manner which recognises and prioritises in-country expertise and knowledge to lead our work and support this with an equitable pay structure
Decolonising Project Management in the Aid Sector
At the ALNAP 32nd Annual Meeting, Arbie Baguios from ActionAid UK shares his story from an aid project in Ethiopia which led him to think about how to follow through with proclaimed ideals of localisation and shifting power by decolonising project management.
“The economist Daniel Honig studied 14,000 aid projects, and found that they were more successful when implementation and decision-making were delegated more to local staff.
He says project success relies on local staff’s “freedom to navigate by judgement, making use of…local, contextually bound information that is difficult to include” in a report or an email to headquarters.
Given this, perhaps it’s also time we see more local and national staff at Northern headquarters as decision-makers.”
What Could Racial Equity Look Like in the Development Sector?
From a panel by Accountability Lab and ONE, Panellist Stephanie Kimou, Principal Consultant at Popworks Africa discusses what a decolonised international development sector could look like, and the steps that need to be taken.
This is a good introduction for those looking to understand the potential harm caused by not recognising and engaging appropriately with in-country expertise.
The Power Awareness Tool
Published by The Spindle (the innovation platform for Partos), this is a tool for analysing power in partnerships for development. It will help you consider who participates at what level in decision-making.
Also relevant to action point 7.
4. We will commit to taking ownership of developing our own deeper understanding of the issues of racism and how they impact our thinking
How to be Anti-Racist in Aid
Arbie Baguios Founder of Aid Re-imagined hosts this honest and much-needed discussion on Racism in “Aid”.
“The global development and humanitarian aid sector has its own share of issues on racism that remains to be addressed. We believe this is a critical moment to hold a discussion on racism within the aid community.”
International Development has a Race Problem
This Devex article by Angela Bruce-Raeburn gives an overview to introduce you to the topic.
“We are encouraged to talk openly about ‘diversity and inclusion,’… yet if we dig a little deeper, we realise that diversity and inclusion do not speak to the entrenched racialised power imbalances that define those who receive aid and those who deliver aid.”
What Capacities Might We, As White People in International Development, Need to Build in Ourselves in Order to Commit to Anti-Racist Practice?
Medium article by Mary Ann Clements is a letter by a white person about what they think white people need to think about building to enable white people to play a part in building anti-racist practices in our sector.
Linked to charter point 2
Anti-Racism and Black Lives Matter Reading List
This is a collection of resources compiled by Hub Cymru Africa which are relevant to the work and supports self-learning but did not make it to the toolkit.
Linked to all charter points
Taking ownership of your own self-learning is important in developing a deeper understanding of complex issues. So is sharing and discussing what we learn. If you have come across a resource which should be on this list, please let us know.
Similarly, if would like to discuss any of the issues or thoughts that come up when discovering these themes and would like to discuss anything in a judgement-free and supportive way, please contact email@example.com
5. We are an organisation that welcomes critical feedback, with a view to learning and improving our work. We will act without defensiveness or negative repercussions for those highlighting racist or colonial practices and create accountability mechanisms within our work
BFM – Intrac
Written for bigger NGOs, still helpful: Community Feedback Mechanisms (CFMs) provide a method for strengthening your accountability to the communities you work with. CFMs provide a channel for community members to easily raise questions, suggestions and concerns about project activities and have agreed on processes for action to be taken in response. In this way, community members can ‘hold an organisation to account for their actions, and ensure their answerability for how resources are used in their community.
This information sheet explains the purpose of setting up a Community Feedback mechanism and some of the issues groups may encounter.
This resource is developed by INTRAC: https://www.intrac.org/
SEEDS model of biases that Affect Decision-Making
The SEEDS model simplifies the roughly 150 identified cognitive biases and recognizes five categories of bias, each of which, responds to a different set of actions that will help mitigate the bias. Use the SEEDS model to help you understand that:
- We are biased by virtue of our biology. People and systems are deeply biased and don’t know it
- Labelling the types of bias that are likely to occur in any organisation and might influence a particular decision can be done using the SEEDS model
- Mitigating bias is possible by using strategies that go directly to the core processes underpinning the bias.
These principles by Race Forward are designed to assess your organisation’s progress in deepening accountability and relationships with your partners and communities. This resource offers a structure around which to assess your practices and culture and to engage with your volunteers, partners and board members in conversations around anti-racism. It is recommended that each person completes the assessment individually before engaging in a group conversation.
6. We will review all of our policies regularly, with an anti-racist and intersectional lens and seek expert help when needed
White Supremacy Culture
From Dismantling Racism: A Workbook for Social Change Groups by Kenneth Jones and Tema Okun, Changework, 2011
Some people react negatively to terms such as White Supremacy Culture – to others it is refreshing and liberating to see the term used and understood in a non-defensive way.
This article is useful for understanding different organisational cultures (whether volunteer or employee-led) and how they can be unintentionally alienating and disruptive.
It is worth mentioning that these characteristics impact people with disabilities as well as Black and People of Colour.
One of the purposes of listing characteristics of white supremacy culture is to point out how organisations which unconsciously use these characteristics as their norms and standards make it difficult, if not impossible, to open the door to other cultural norms and standards. As a result, many of our organisations, while saying we want to be multicultural, only allow other people and cultures to come in if they adapt or conform to already existing cultural norms. Being able to identify and name the cultural norms and standards you want is a first step to making room for a truly multicultural organisation.
So You’ve Hired a Diversity and Inclusion Expert? Here Are Six Ways You Could Be Undermining Them…
“There is a strong argument that the reason why so many DEI initiatives fail is that a DEI lens itself is not political or radical enough to bring about transformative change.”
This 10-minute-read article by Leila Billing will help you think beyond the tick box exercise of having Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Policies.
Third Sector Podcast #1: Diversity in Charities
Third Sector have a Podcast and for their first episode, they discussed diversity in UK charities. Eleanor Southwood from RNIB and fundraising consultant Kemar Walford join Third Sector’s Rebecca Cooney to discuss if the voluntary sector is doing enough to encourage diversity in its workforce.
7. We commit to actively improving the diversity of our boards, teams and volunteers to achieve more informed and equitable decision-making
From Rhetoric to Action: An Equity Roadmap for the Aid Community
A roadmap outlining five key approaches to address structural racism and advance equity across INGOs.
More Diverse Boards “Not Beyond Our Imagination”
Malcolm John, founder of the Action for Trustee Racial Diversity campaign, outlines the work they’ve been doing.
Charity so White
Charity so White is a campaign group led by racialised people seeking to tackle institutional racism in the charity sector.
“Our vision is of a charity sector that is taking the lead on tackling and rooting out racism. We want to see a shift in fundamental structures across the charity sector, where our sector, leaders and decision-makers reflect the communities that we work with.”
8. We will adopt appropriate and thoughtful language, storytelling and images. We recognise that they have meaning, can cause harm and can reinforce racism
Please note that there is further information on informed consent and the Reframing the Narrative Project. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
if you can’t find what you are looking for.
A Practical Guide for Communicating Global Justice and Solidarity
Guide produced by Framing Matters for Health Poverty Action
“The way we talk about global issues affects how people think, feel and react to them. Recognising that language has the power to create social change, this guide was produced with the intention of setting out a different approach to communicating global issues—one that replaces the narrative of development, aid and charity, with one of global justice and solidarity.”
Linked to Charter Points 4 and 12
Taking British Politics and Colonialism out of Our Language – Bond’s Language Guide
“This guide outlines our depoliticised and decolonised language grid, which states phrases we will no longer use and the alternative language we are adopting. The guide also includes the principles guiding us and our reasons for undertaking this work now.”
Linked to Charter Points 4 and 12
How to Tell an African Story
A toolkit from Africa No Filter to help you overcome unethical storytelling.
Reframing the Narrative in International Development: Part 2. Poverty Porn and the (White) Saviour Complex
A recorded webinar discussion by SSAP and Hub Cymru Africa on the dangers and history of poverty porn. Speakers include:
- Lena Bheeroo – Events and programme manager and equity, diversity & inclusion lead at Bond
- Dela Anderson – Campaigns Coordinator at RESULTS UK
- Robert Nkwangu – CPARO Project Coordinator and;
- Phyllis Wanjiru – Journalist and LGBTQ+ campaigner.
Definitions of Various Terminologies – Hub Cymru Africa
Glossary of terms to help you understand which language to use:
- Disability specific terms
- Examples of enabling beliefs in our sector and how to engage them
- Grey phrases.
9. We will ensure all work takes a social justice approach, to promote the self-sufficiency of all partners including equity in opportunities
Project FAIR: Examining Power, Privilege and Pay in the International Aid and Development Sector
This Article discusses Project FAIR and links to resources to help you ensure you are paying in-country staff and “volunteers” fairly.
“Ultimately, paying similarly skilled and experienced employees differently because of their country of origin symbolically devalues lower-paid groups of employees, and may potentially undermine aid projects before they have begun.”
From Poverty to Power
This book by Duncan Green discusses how active citizens and effective states can change the world.
About Race podcast: The Big Question
Podcast by Reni Eddo-Lodge discusses “what can I do?” with Ra’ed Khan from Road to Freedom, Gabby Edlin from Bloody Good Period and Deputy Director of Citizen’s UK and author Matthew Bolton.
Working in Partnership
Podcast: Cath Moulogo is joined by WCIA colleague Hannah Sheppard who has been exploring “working in partnership” with Dominique Alonga and Aimee Parker
Racial Justice Assessment Tool
A checklist to consider if your organisation is taking a justice approach to work. Not all points will be relevant to those not in advocacy roles but will give food for thought.
Adapted by Western States Center, based on work done by Changework and South Asian Network.
10. We will always promote sustainability (Social, Human, Economic and Environmental) in our work, and partnerships
The Three Pillars of Sustainability
This video from “The Story of Sustainability” series by the Swiss Learning Exchange discusses how an integrated approach toward development is the only way forwards for a sustainable as well as a balanced way of development. It outlines the three pillars of sustainability and how they interact with one another.
PESTLE analysis tool
PESTLE (also known as STEEPLE, PESTEL, STEEP or PEST), is a helpful tool for organisations to map the external forces (drivers) that may have a positive or negative impact on their projects. It stands for Political, Economic, Social, Technological Environmental and Legal.
This tool can be used with your partners to assess the context you are working in and whether your project has addressed all the factors that will affect the 4 pillars of sustainability in your project.
Working to Walk Away
Non-profit founder Weh Yeoh talks about how more international charities should “Work to walk away”. By recognising the difference between addressing symptoms and solving problems, we can make space for the communities we work with to create solutions to their own problems. This requires a complete rethink of the purpose of international charity. Is it to perpetuate our own existence, or to successfully exit?
Use this tool to start discussions with your partners on when and how you might put things in place to be able to move aside so they can take the lead.
11. We will consider the wider global injustices in our work and consider the negative impact of our actions on the climate and environment and mitigate them, acknowledging that the people with the lowest carbon footprint are the ones that feel the greatest impact
Climate Change and Development in Three Charts
These are a set of graphics from the Centre for Global Development, which gives a visual overview of which countries have historically contributed to climate change and which countries are affected.
Why Does Climate Justice Matter?
This is a brief overview by Climate Just of what we mean by climate justice. This article will help you think about the way in which your work impacts the environment, can you speak to local people and environmental experts about how your work might affect them.
A Climate of Hope – Climate Justice: A Question of Survival.
This podcast by Utopia Dispatch is an overview of the unequal nature of climate change at a global level.
12. We will commit to involving our partners, board, volunteers and broader audience in our work on this charter.
It is worth noting that working with and communicating openly with your partner(s) is key to successfully begging an anti-racist approach. These conversations include being conscious of power dynamics.
It may also be difficult to begin conversations with trustees, volunteers and staff. So as well as inviting you to talk about your work in this area through your newsletters, social media, AGMs and events, we have also included resources that you may find helpful when planning how you will bring potentially difficult topics to the table.
You may feel unsure how to approach having potentially challenging conversations around issues of inequality with colleagues, Trustees, volunteers, friends, and family. Adapted from Rockwood Leadership Institute’s “Courageous Conversations” model and Healing Solidarity’s “Getting Ourselves Together” practice group, this document will help you consider how to prepare for and think through the conversation(s): Being Braver.
Your Guide to Having Courageous Group Conversations
Courageous conversations can be less complicated if they occur 1:1 or within a small group.
When you have a larger group of individuals, then, even more preparation and sensitivity are needed.
The Courageous Conversation Compass
Adapted from Glenn Singleton’s Courageous Conversations About Race: A Field Guide for Achieving Equity in Schools, 2nd Edition (2015).
Purpose of the Courageous Conversation Compass:
- a personal navigational tool to guide participants through these conversations
- helps us to know where we are personally as well as to recognise the direction from which other participants come
- helps us to locate the sources of our emotions and actions or lack thereof
Why I’m Leaving My Job in International Development
As well as sharing a personal narrative, this article by Vic Hancock Fell gives examples of how the UK-based and Kenya-based organisations worked and communicated together and transparently to facilitate a shift in power.