How the “Polo” project raised the voice of local communities in Mexico

Date 27.04.2021

Oaxaca, Guerrero and Puebla are three Mexican states characterized by high rates of poverty and marginalization, but also by an organized civil society that is sensitive to many different issues, and committed to the community. These CSOs (Civil Society Organizations) often address the needs that government authorities do not meet. However, they face big internal challenges, such as a lack of resources and limited operational or administrative capacities.

These are the reasons why the project “Polo para la Ciudadanía Participativa” (“Pole for Participative Citizenship”) came into play in 2017. With the financial support of the European Union, it allowed a consortium formed by AVSI Foundation, Sikanda A.C., SEPICJ A.C. and Centro Lindavista to strengthen the capacities of more than 190 Collectives and Civil Society Organizations. The program helped them solve issues of organizational planning and management, monitoring and evaluation, resource mobilization and participation in public policies.

José Carlos León, director of Sikanda A.C., has since then expressed his satisfaction with the progress made: “We have seen that the communities we have worked with have gradually made themselves heard. They already had a voice, but thanks to the project they finally have the tools they need to make it stronger.”

In addition to strengthening CSOs, over its four-year duration the project established channels for dialogue among the organizations, local authorities and private actors. This way, it was possible to develop, implement and monitor public policies aimed at improving territorial development, with an emphasis on education, access to water, peace building and sustainable development.

"Ever since I was a child, shortages have been the norm and we got used to taking care of the situation. I never realized how impactful the actions of people who are part of a community can be. I never thought that this, too, can be considered peace building," commented Patricia Silva Lopez, representative of the organization “Mujeres en Desarrollo para el progreso de San Luis Morelia”.

The closing ceremony

On April 20 and 21, 2021, the closing ceremony of the project took place in virtual form. It gave way to present the obstacles, opportunities, experiences and results of the collective work that had been done in favor of citizen participation and social cohesion in the South-Southeast of Mexico.

The ceremony sought to open the dialogue among all the different actors involved in this four-year project. Among many others, it was attended by Marie Augouy, cooperation attache of the European Union in Mexico; Diego Aguilar, director of Fundación León; Daniela Cuadra, operational director for AVSI Latin America and AVSI Brazil; Georgina Morales of GIZ Mexico - Good Governance Project for the Strengthening of Civil Society; Francesco Vincenti, external consultant; Enrique Pasta, rector at the university Universidad Loyola del Pacífico; and Hugo García, rector at the university Universidad Politécnica de Guanajuato.

"It is important in the actions to think about how to create trust between citizens, governments and all intermediate organizations, how to make quality democratic processes exist? To make public policy live, trust is essential”, underlined Marie Augouy, Program Manager European Union Delegation in Mexico.

Fortaleza, Mexico

Furthermore, the documentary “Fortaleza, Mexico” was screened: shot by the Italian director Matteo Bastianelli, it shows the activities of four women, leaders of civil society organizations that have participated in the Polo project.

“The conclusive message of the documentary “Fortress, Mexico” is a message of hope for the future of Mexico, I hope to be able to return at some point to Mexico and see the progress of the Polo project”, the director commented.

Some of the objectives achieved over a period of 3 years:

158 SELF-ASSESSMENT of organizational maturity carried out.

30 YOUNG VOLUNTEERS recruited and trained to conduct 1,505 citizen surveys.

1 DIAGNOSTIC AND BASELINE PUBLISHING, the first research about the pre-existing situation in the regions involved inf the Project (in Spanish).

1 DIPLOMA to strengthen Collectives and CSOs in Citizenship, Peace Building and Public Policy Advocacy, implemented in person and replicated in virtual modality.

173 DIPLOMAS DELIVERED from the strengthening diploma course for representatives of collectives and CSOs in the on-site modality and 202 diplomas in the virtual modality.

6 COLLABORATION AGREEMENTS signed with educational and governmental institutions for the implementation of the Diploma in the three states.

3 TRAINING WORKSHOPS for CSOs in Public Policy Advocacy, project management and monitoring, and for the development of advocacy projects.

92 CSO REPRESENTATIVES trained through a communication workshop for Civil Society Organizations.

161 STATE AND SUBREGIONAL FORUMS and MEETINGS between CSOs, Collectives and local authorities.

3 PERMANENT SERVICE CENTERS activated to provide support to CSOs and Collectives of the Project.

1 MANUAL FOR PUBLIC POLICY ADVOCACY for CSOs and Collectives (in Spanish).

1 THEMATIC DIRECTORY with 114 COLLECTIVES AND CSOs of the three states (in Spanish).

1 PROJECT REPORT (in Spanish).

6 VIRTUAL CENTERS FOR EDUCATIONAL SUPPORT for Children and Adolescents activated by CSOs of the project as a result of the pandemic.

16 VIRTUAL WORKSHOPS ON EMERGENCY RESPONSE COVID, resilience, and strengthening of CSOs and collectives.


3 FRAMEWORK AGREEMENT FOR COLLABORATION WITH INTERSECTIONAL ACTORS in public advocacy initiatives, one in each state.

• 6 NETWORKS OF COLLECTIVES AND CSOs CONSTITUTED 1 in Guerrero, 2 in Oaxaca and 2 in Puebla