Networking in practice: the experience of the Arid Lands Information Network

As the development agenda becomes more and more led by the preoccupations of Southern non-government organisations (NGOs) it becomes increasingly crucial that good communications flows are encouraged and maintained between development practitioners. Project staff have frequently been the underclass of the development world, often isolated, left to execute decisions made by others, poorly serviced in terms of training and information and none more so than the women amongst them. Yet they are the very people on whom the implementation of good development practice rests. The Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) was established in 1988 specifically to address some of the needs of this group. Using a number of methods, it has sought to encourage and facilitate the sharing of information and ideas between development workers at village/project level and to build confidence and provide a platform for their concerns and views. The ultimate aim is not to increase membership of the ALIN `club', but rather to foster the desire to communicate and share experience, and to take control of the process of networking.