Cooperative Self Help Approach to Rural Development
The cooperative self-help approach starts with the assumption that the complex process of rural transformation must begin with changes in the rural people themselves. This change may be in their attitudes towards change, in their aspirations for improvement and in their perceptions of themselves. They should realize their own inherent power, individually and collectively, to better their conditions. The chief motive power for rural development must come from the people so that outside help of various kinds can be provided in response to the expressed needs of the people. There is heavy emphasis in this approach on the building of local institutions for cooperative self-help and governance.
The example chosen for this approach is from Bangladesh. It is commonly known as the Comilla Project, as this approach was first used by the Academy of Rural Development at Comilla, in Bangladesh. The educational components of the Comilla Project are of particular interest as they involved an extension service in which much of the efforts moved from bottom to up instead of from top to down.
In this project the village people chose one of their own members to serve as their educational liaison with the outside services of knowledge relevant to their needs. This procedure was developed by the local cooperative societies and the Academy of Rural Development. Under this protocol the villages agreed to:
1. Organize themselves choose a Chairman and form a Registered Society.
2. Hold weekly meetings with compulsory attendance of all members.
3. Select a man from the group and send him to the Academy once a week for training so that he could be the organizer and teacher of the group.
4. Keep proper and complete records.
5. Use supervised production credit.
6. Adopt improved agricultural practices and skills.
7. Make regular savings.
8. Join the Central Cooperative Association and
9. Hold regular member education sessions.