Keeping CODI’s institutional arrangements light, flexible, participatory and demand-driven
An institutional structure that supports demand-driven initiatives: From the beginning, CODI positioned itself as a demand-driven institution. Its central guiding principle was – and continues to be – that communities (the “demand side”) are capable, are the group most urgently wanting change, are a substantial development force, and should have the opportunity to determine what they need and set the direction of their own development processes. So the organizational structures, the working culture and the ways of thinking that were built within CODI, from the very beginning, were all very much along the lines of this demand-driven principle: that people are the center, people are the subject, the key doers in all the projects, in collaboration and partnership with other stakeholders, and CODI’s role is to support them.
CODI offers many lessons about how a government institution can support a process of community-driven development at scale, and how substantial change in the lives of the urban and rural poor can be brought about through a process that is driven by communities, but which opens up a big space for communities to work together with their local governments and with a wide range of other public and private stakeholders to deliver a growing variety of development goods such as secure housing, livelihood and welfare.
All the structures and programs in CODI are designed through an intense group process, involving both professionals and communities, in which decisions always come out of extensive discussions. That culture is now embedded in the organization and helps keep CODI as flat and as little hierarchical as possible.
Building partnership and collaboration at all levels: Whether it be housing, secure land, settlement upgrading, community welfare or community finance, co-production of these public goods invariably involves many more stakeholders than just the communities and CODI. CODI works with other government agencies, NGOs, civil society organizations, activists, architects, academic institutions, support professionals and communities to develop collaborative platforms at many levels, where representatives from these various stakeholders sit together and decide publicly what CODI should do. This is a way to open the development process more broadly to make room for other actors to take part with communities in the doing, and to bring their expertise and support to the complex task of creating lasting solutions through a community-driven change process. This kind of collaboration and partnership-building has been built into all of CODI’s decision-making and management structures and has become an important aspect of CODI’s working culture.
- CODI board: CODI’s highest decision-making body, the CODI board, brings together representatives from all the different sectors: government agencies, civil society, NGOs, academic institutions and communities in rural and urban areas.
- Issue-based joint subcommittees: Most of CODI’s major programs and policies are likewise managed by issue-based joint subcommittees, which are appointed by the CODI board and bring together representatives from all the relevant stakeholders and sectors, including relevant government agencies, civil society, academia and community. Each subcommittee oversees the management and budget of CODI work having to do with that particular issue, at the national level. The subcommittee overseeing the Baan Mankong housing program, for example, includes representatives from the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, the Treasury Department (which controls most of the country’s public land), the League of Thai Cities, NGOs, academic institutions, community representatives from all the regions and various community networks. The idea of these joint committees is partly to achieve agreement and a common understanding from all these different actors, in all the areas or subjects these joint committees address, but also to build a broader base of support for a community-driven, and demand-driven development process. The joint subcommittees could be permanent (like the ongoing Baan Mankong housing programs), or set up temporarily to oversee some specific time-bound project (like a particular disaster rehabilitation project).
- Mixed regional boards: The mixed regional boards, which are also appointed by the CODI board, set policies and oversee CODI’s work in the five regions. The regional CODI offices are administrative units tasked with facilitating the development direction set by the regional boards, on various issues. An important part of the regional CODI process involves collaborating with development initiatives that already exist in those regions, so that CODI’s work can add value to the good work that is already being done on various issues, and contribute to the larger change process already happening in those regions.
- Strategic Program Offices: These specific program offices provide administrative, managerial and monitoring backup to CODI’s larger and more complex programs, and also manage the interface with other relevant government agencies.
- Internal support and administration: These sections of CODI’s internal administrative mechanism provide support to various aspects of CODI’s operation: money, planning, finance, auditing, monitoring and reporting to key government agencies like the National Auditors Office, the National Budget Bureau, the Public Organizations Committee and others.
DIAGRAM 1: STRUCTURE OF CODI