Avec ETS is a non-profit organization created by a few descendants of Pietro Savorgnan di Brazzà, along with professionals and scholars of development and international cooperation.
Pietro Savorgnan di Brazzà, explorer of Italian origin, traveled to Africa to pursue his dreams and follow Livingstone’s footsteps, but found a land that was far from being untouched, torn apart by conflicts and by the slave trade. He explored Gabon, Congo and the Central African Republic with modest means, making his way through diplomacy and learning about the peoples of Central Africa.
The colonial model proposed by Brazzà, which implied the involvement and respect of the local populations, attracted the hostility of French companies and officials, anxious to obtain the maximum profit from the colony. After giving to France an immense territory, the explorer was forced to leave central Africa and was forgotten by the French.
Despite his good intentions and non-violence, Pietro Savorgnan di Brazza was an accomplice in one of the greatest crimes in the history of humanity. After years of forced retirement he was called back into service to investigate the violence committed by the officers and agents of the colonial companies in the territories he had explored. The report he wrote and which harshly criticized the colonial system and the excessive freedom of action conferred on private companies was covered up by the French government, also because Brazza died during the fact-finding mission, shocked by the horror of the abuses he discovered, and possibly poisoned by colonial agents.
Recently the figure of Brazza has been brought to public attention. His remains were transferred to an imposing mausoleum in Brazzaville (capital of the Republic of Congo) in an operation which has kept hidden the only aspect of his history that is important to remember: his respect for the population and his opposition to the exploitation of the resources of central Africa, which, today as at the time of the explorer, is often carried out without regard for the rights and needs of the inhabitants.
Far from official commemorations, some descendants of Brazza have maintained since his time informal ties with friends in Congo-Brazzaville and have decided to set up a non-profit association that makes use of the knowledge and experience gained during their travels and the support of cooperation professionals. Avec proposes a new model of collaboration between Congo and Italy, favoring the participatory aspect in the drafting and management of cooperation projects, with particular attention to rural development and cultural exchanges. During their travels and studies on the Congo, the members of Avec were able to touch the problems of the Congolese and collect a large number of project proposals. Only proposals that demonstrate a high degree of feasibility and coherence have been and will be accepted. A high probability of success is guaranteed by the seriousness and integrity of the people involved, which are fundamental requirements for collaborating with Avec.
Avec has decided to focus on a few principles to direct its action:
- Development is tackled according to an integrated approach, which therefore includes economic, social, institutional, environmental and cultural aspects, with particular attention to the historical circumstances that determined its origin and continuation.
- Avec operates continuously in the field of research on development, agriculture, cooperation and all the themes relevant to the effective management and implementation of its projects.
- The projects must be characterized by strong sustainability from an economic, environmental and social point of view. The aim of the association is to start development processes capable of self-sustaining in the long term even after the conclusion of the interventions.
- The association rejects any form of corruption or enslavement to clientelar netorks in the countries where it operates, proposing instead tools for improvement of institutional participatory processes of the local population, seeking equity and efficiency. If a cooperation project has the function of bridging some gaps in local administrations, it must be undertaken by dialoguing with them and requesting their collaboration, and trying to ensure that the purpose of the project is also to generate a lasting commitment in these administrations.
- The projects are designed and implemented making use of the knowledge, judgment and collaboration of people or associations who come from and work in the countries concerned.
- The projects are designed, implemented and controlled by qualified personnel. Avec is fully aware that working in developing countries could lead to the destabilization of local balances. It therefore makes use of mainly local personnel who are experts in the sector to guarantee the proper functioning of the projects.
- Avec intends to maxiise the quality of its interventions, using all the tools necessary for the planning and management of the activities. The design of the projects will take place through a participatory approach by actively involving the beneficiaries of the interventions. The feasibility study is a guarantee tool for the achievement of the objectives, therefore it will always be implemented. Intervention planning methodologies such as the assessment of the logical framework, accurate financial planning, a detailed budget and a coherently planned chronogram are fundamental for any activity of the association and in particular for development projects.
- Monitoring and evaluation are considered essential tools for monitoring and implementing the interventions and therefore they will be methodologies included in every project of the association.