Community Learning Movement (CLM) is essentially a rights based perspective of social change through people centred advocacy. It visualizes the building up of a network of empowered community leaders who can organise and mobilize people to demand their basic rights and fight against injustice. Community Learning Movements (CLMs) serve as NCAS’ leading grassroots initiative. Working with communities, both in India and throughout Asia, CLMs seek to strengthen the capabilities of marginalized people to embark on social justice campaigns. CLMs were designed with a people-centred approach in order to create a sustainable and self-managed advocacy initiative that meets the specific needs of each individual community. Therefore, each CLM maintains a unique design and is catered to best address the issues selected by the respective communities. CLMs can result in anything ranging from a national advocacy campaign to something as simple as creating an open space for people to discuss their struggles. No matter what the final product, CLMs inform and empower grassroots communities with the necessary skills and knowledge to fight for their rights. NCAS employs CLMs in order to empower people at the grassroots level to claim authority over their own advocacy campaigns and promote the establishment of a new social order.
NCAS undertook a project in partnership with Oxfam-Novib with an aim to strengthen advocacy capacities of non-governmental organisations and community-based organisations in South Asia. NCAS recognized the need to develop a South Asian perspective on advocacy through regional cross-learning programmes and integration of advocacy approaches from organisations in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and India. We were fortunate to involve Nepal substantially in the process too.
The process aimed at building a community of Advocacy Practitioners. The group recognized the need for a regional “South Asian” identity due to the complexity of issues and the similarity of the regions. Thematic workshops on fundamental processes of People Centred Advocacy such as ‘Organizing and Mobilizing’, ‘Campaigning and Networking’, and ‘Sustainability and Ownership’ provided space for collective learning on advocacy strategies from a South Asian perspective. The project led to creation of Community Learning Movements (CLMs) in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan and India. One of the outcomes of this project has been the publishing of three thematic Resource Books on People Centred Advocacy. These include documentation of case stories from each of the countries. The resource books look at emergence of people centred advocacy and outline the lessons learnt from the case stories and the strategies which worked and those which did not.