An Overview of CDRA's History and Work
"Using known approaches to transitions to democracy and promotion of sustainable development is likely to limit our horizons. We need to take the risk of venturing into the unknown to explore new possibilities."
Mamphela Ramphela (2008) "Laying Ghosts to Rest: Dilemmas of the Transformation in South Africa"
In 1987 the CDRA was born in South Africa, a country that has had little time to catch up with the changes it has been undergoing ever since. Over the years we have been deeply involved in many of the changes and much has changed in the life and work of the CDRA but our central purpose has remained constant.
"We aim to help bring about and support authentic and coherent development practice amongst people, organisations and institutions working towards those forms of social transformation that most benefit the poor and marginalised." (From CDRA mission statement.)
Last year we took a long hard look at the state of the sector and the world we serve and also at ourselves, what we have contributed, what we have learned and what we have to offer now.
To us it is clear that along with a growing global commitment to ending poverty there is growing frustration as our best attempts fail to achieve sufficient impact. As a result there is a growing urgency and openness to consider alternatives, question convention and seek more effective practices. The alternative view of development, organisation and transformative practice that has long been pursued and promoted by CDRA is rapidly gaining purchase and earning credibility.
Our experience shows that the organisational forms and practices that presently dominate in attempting to bring about change in the world are replicating and reinforcing the systems that create the problem. Leading organisations in the development sector have learned that the successful initiatives are those that are shaped, owned and controlled over time by the people who are expected to benefit. The CDRA assists organisations and practitioners who are actively searching for innovative organisational forms, practices and principles that are more effective in addressing the challenges of our time. Together we search for organising processes and practices that transform the use of organisational power from being a means of expert, externally driven problem solving and control to becoming a driver of more equal development and innovative co-creation.
The essence of our work and services can best be described in four words: searching (collaborative inquiry, research and learning); accompanying (consultancy services that accompany organisations through processes of learning and change); sharing (courses through which we share effective organisational practice); and promoting (courageously standing with others to advocate for new organisational forms and practices that work, and challenge those that do not).
We remain rooted in supporting the role and functioning of a robust Civil Society but will become bolder in working at the interface with the state and business in the process of co-creating a more just and equal society.