Open Channels works to ensure a voice for dispossessed communities seeking to define their lands, resources and rights, to build their strength and secure a just place in today’s world. We do this according to the requirements and input of the communities and representative organizations that invite us to work with them.

Believing that communication and empowerment are inseparably linked, we make expertise and other resources available so that the community can define and argue their case with government bodies, in courts of law, in the media and among the general public at local, national and international level.

Who we are

Open Channels was established in 1995 in response to the urgent need of disadvantaged communities for specialised services to help in the fields of communication and information management. Our partners have included Belgrave Baheno (Leicester, UK), Asociacion Aurora Vivar (Lima, Peru), The 1990 Trust (London, UK), and International Alliance of Indigenous & Tribal Peoples of the Tropical Forest (worldwide). Since 1997 our work has centred on working with the San to help secure their rights to lands, heritage and economic security.

Hugh Brody (advisor) pioneered land claims mapping and other techniques with Inuit and Dunne-za hunting and trapping communities in northern Canada. He worked with the Inuit and other Canadian First Nations and with the Canadian Federal Government in the 1970s and 1980s on problems originating in the clash between large-scale development projects and indigenous groups. Dr Brody was subsequently a member of the World Bank’s Independent Review Team (widely known as the Morse Commission) that looked at the impact of the Narmada dams on the people and lands that were to be inundated,  and was Chairman of the Snake River Independent Review that secured settlements between the Idaho Power Company and the Nez Perce Tribe. He has made films with and for indigenous peoples in many parts of Canada, as well as films in Europe and Australia. In 2004 he was appointed to the Canada Research Chair in Aboriginal Studies at the University College of the Fraser Valley. He is also an Honorary Associate at the Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Cambridge.

Sarah Hobson (founder and advisor) has witnessed for more than 30 years the impact of agriculture and aid policies on rural communities in many parts of Africa. She is executive director of New Field Foundation, which focuses its funding on rural women creating change in West Africa, and has previously worked with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and International Development Exchange (IDEX). She is the author, contributor and editor of eight books and has presented and produced many documentaries for television, giving voice to peasant and indigenous communities.

Sally Morgan (administrator) trained as a journalist and then worked in arts administration and marketing before joining Open Channels in 1996. She has a post-graduate certificate in Development Management from the Open University.

Board of trustees

Albert Fong (treasurer) is a consultant to non-profits in the US in finance, IT and operations. He has worked in technology projects in developing countries and communities. Most recently, he has managed projects to build community technology centres and solar systems in low-income communities in California and Vietnam. He is currently Chief Finance Officer of The Christensen Fund.

Hermione Harris, a social anthropologist, is currently a research associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London. The focus of Dr Harris’s work is ethnic minorities in Britain; she has recently published on the Somali community in Britain, and West African churches in London. Her development experience includes the coordination of a technical assistance programme in Honduras and Nicaragua.

Bernard Woods (chair) worked internationally for almost 30 years in rural sector development, mostly in Africa and Asia, culminating as the World Bank's Senior Communication Specialist. He is currently working to raise understanding in Britain of the country’s growing and unsustainable dependence on natural resources imported from abroad, and the role of communication in reversing this situation.

 

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