Sago Network is guided by five Core Principles which inform the team's approach to the unique circumstances surrounding each community development programme:
Principle 1: Community-Centred Approach
Seen as the most important principle, Sago Network seeks to place people at the centre of their own development process throughout each project:
- Community Engagement through consultation workshops initiate each project and guide communities toward determining their own development priorities, often identifying, unprompted, water and sanitation as the most critical needs.
- Local Committees of community members are often formed to identify local champions to drive water and sanitation projects toward the community-determined objectives.
- Education and Awareness programmes are delivered throughout a programme to ensure that children and adults are aware of both:
- The health issues that prompt a project to engender appropriate behavior change, and
- The technical knowledge surrounding the appropriate use, monitoring and maintenance of facilities being implemented.
- Strategic Partnerships are formed around the host community with key government, educational and private sector stakeholders all connected to the project and introduced to community members according to project requirements.
- Partnership Agreements clarify the contributions to be made by all stakeholders, especially community contributions.
- Financial Contributions ensure community members save toward an agreed portion of their projects to be genuinely invested.
- Collaborative Construction facilitates the involvement of community members through project delivery to ensure that sweat equity is invested and local ownership built.
- Sustained Monitoring and Maintenance, performed by both community members and Sago Network, aims to ensure that communities progressively transition toward full autonomy and ownership of their facilities.
- Inclusive Decisions throughout all stages of a project assists communities to ensure that gender equity and all age groups are considered with an equal representation of men, women, youth and experience involved in all consultations, committees, decisions and actions.
By placing community at the centre of their own development processes and decisions, Sago Network aims to engender a capacity-building experience for participants to strengthen the skills, knowledge and network of community members so that they become active agents of their own on-going change.
Principle 2: Philosophy of Process & Product
Sago Network values both product and process, seeking to achieve carefully considered built results through an inclusive and capacity- building process. The team’s foundation as architects instills a clear focus on built interventions being rigorously researched, carefully detailed, locally appropriate and site-specific responses. The
built ‘product’ however is complemented by an awareness that sustained progress is supported by a ‘process’ that is empowering, explanatory, collaborative, supportive and sustained.
Principle 3: Strategic Partnerships
The team aims to catalyse strategic partnerships between communities and organisations who stand to gain from collaboration or association. This constellation of project partners is unique to each project and can extend from community partnerships with:
- Government looking to deliver services to their constituents,
- Private sector seeking to contribute as part of corporate social responsibility programmes,
- Industry who can supply communities with maintenance skills or replacement parts to ensure long-term functionality of facilities.
- Educational institutions with students interested in getting involved in community development and supporting a community.
Principle 4: Multi-Disciplinary Teamwork
- The complex and inter-related development challenges of water and sanitation have been tackled by Sago Network by forming
a diverse and multi-disciplinary team which is flexibly configured around the needs of each community based upon their needs. The team includes architects, community development professionals, project managers, engineers, carpenters, plumbers, builders and education professionals. Sago Network views each of these professions as crucial to the delivery of each project and to PNG’s future development.
Principle 5: Reflective Practice
Sago Network maintains a commitment to learning from projects previously undertaken to ensure that each subsequent effort is strengthened with the following measures assisting this reflective mode of practice:
- Qualitative assessments of the success of each project are undertaken with community members as part of on-going monitoring and maintenance programmes.
- Quantitative and empirical evidence regarding use, maintenance and performance of facilities is collated from multiple data loggers installed throughout the facilities.
- Project process is continually reflected upon and improved to ensure a framework of approach that reflects best practice and learning to date.