Principles of Community Development

Principles of Community Development

Canadians Michael and Julie Bopp described the principles of community development as follow:

1.  Harnessing Community Tensions:

For changes to occur there must be a tension in people’s mind between the way things are and the way people want them to be. There must be a desire for change and a desire to work together to create the change.

2.  Facilitating Consultation about Community Realities and Needs:

As noted in detail below, for community development to work successfully, there has to be awareness about community needs as decided upon by the community themselves, not as decided upon by outsides.

3.  Maintaining Unity and Healthy Human Relations:

It is important to build respectful healthy relationship between members of the group and to work on managing conflicts as they occur so as to maintain a collective vision.

4.  Developing a Common Vision of Sustainable Future:

If community development is to work, it must be sustainable and the process must include everyone.  Stories abound of development processes failing because the resources or the process were not sustainable or well devised or were done without consultation.  We have all seen pictures of computers lying unused because the hardware or software broke or just because people in the community didn’t actually see need for computers.

5.  Supporting Core Group Development:

It is essential to encourage and support your group.  Get to know the people in your group.  What are their interests and skills?  How much time can they dedicate to the group’s activities?  Everyone needs to be clear about their capacities and the limits to their time and energy that may exist.  Encourage and build up a strong support base so that the group is not dependent upon only one or two people.  Make sure the group is as representative of the community as it can be-that means including and listening to the needs of women and children as well.

6.  Personal Revitalization and Healing:

Good community development processes provide an opportunity for people to become empowered, energized and to undo some of the harms of the past.

7.  Facilitating Learning:

The entire development process is a learning experience.  People can become aware of their environment, their social and political reality and can learn how to make the steps necessary to change and improve their situation.

8.  Building Effective Organizations:

Formalizing the initial volunteer group is crucial part of the development process.  Creating and implementing formal organization structures creates legitimacy and respect for the organizations and lets the community know that you are serious about your endeavours.  It helps keep people unified and accountable and is part of the process of developing and implementing plans and activities.

9.  Networking with Resources and Allies:

Creating the networks between like minded individuals who then form a group who then network with other groups in order to learn and share skills and resources and knowledge is a crucial part of the community development process.  The most effective groups are those that are well networked and work on co-operation with others in their area.  Find out whether your area has a friendship school or rotary club or other group that is already working.

10.  Programme Development:

It is important to have a clear programme.  An as hoc approach to community development processes will not work.  A programme must be developed in conjunction with the community and be about community needs and priorities. They must adhere to realistic timelines and have inbuilt monitoring and evaluation processes so that changes can be tracked.  The prorgramme acts as a map to signal where it is the group going.

11.  Reflection on the Process: Monitoring and Evaluation:

Monitoring and Evaluation is very important as it allows the group to track progress, identify problems, and improve upon community development processes.

12.  Protecting the Process:

Community development processes are dependent upon a rant of other processes: the good will of those involved, the continuation of funds, a secure political environment, a lack of violence.  Once any of these dynamics is disrupted, then negative change and conflict may occur.  It is important to have risk management strategies built into your process Less well developed processes might have fallen victim to the conflict and insecurity.

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