This can be put at the centre Every One has to declare that “I have a belief in people and analysis of power are the basis of critical approach to community development especially vulnerable sections of the society.''
Development of Vulnerable sections, informally called community building, is a broad term applied to the practices and academic disciplines of civic leaders, activists, involved citizens and professionals to improve various aspects of local communities.
Addressing the needs of vulnerable sections, seeks to empower individuals and groups of people by providing these groups with the skills they need to effect change in their own communities. These skills are often concentrated around building political power through the formation of large social groups working for a common agenda. Community developers must understand both how to work with individuals and how to affect communities' positions within the context of larger social institutions.
Addressing vulnerability means the process of developing active and sustainable communities based on social justice and mutual respect. It is about influencing power structures to remove the barriers that prevent people from participating in the issues that affect their lives. Development workers (officers) facilitate the participation of people in this process. They enable connections to be made between communities and with the development of wider policies and programmes. Addressing vulnerability expresses values of fairness, equality, accountability, opportunity, choice, participation, mutuality, reciprocity and continuous learning. Educating, Enabling and Empowering are at the core of the approach.
Development practitioners are involved in organizing meetings and conducting searches within a community to identify problems, identify assets, locate resources, analyze local power structures, assess human needs, and investigate other concerns that comprise the community's character (case study). These practitioners, sometimes called social activists, use social resources to get the economic and political leverage that a community uses to meet their needs. Often, the social resources within the community are found to be adequate to meet these needs if individuals work collectively through techniques like cooperation and volunteerism.
A form of community development that links academic resources to community problems in a reciprocally beneficial manner is Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR), a form of research which engages a community fully in the process of problem definition/issue selection, research design, conducting research, and interpreting the results. One of the principal ways in which CBPR differs from traditional research is that instead of creating knowledge for the advancement of a field or for knowledge's sake, CBPR is an interactive process, incorporating research, reflection, and action in a cyclical process.
A number of different approaches to address the vulnerability can be recognized, including: Community Economic Development (CED), Community Capacity Building, Social Capital Formation, Political Participatory Development, Non-violent Direct Action, Ecologically Sustainable Development, Asset-Based Community Development, Faith-Based Community Development, Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR), Community Mobilization, Community Empowerment, Community Participation, Participatory Planning including Community-Based Planning (CBP), Community-Driven Development (CDD) and approaches to funding communities directly.
Activists engaged in community building efforts in industrialized areas see the apparent loss of community in these societies as a key cause of social disintegration and the emergence of many harmful behaviors. They may see building community as a means to increase social justice, individual well-being and reduce negative impacts of otherwise disconnected individuals.
Capacity enhancement in a community is a process by which people are brought together to act in common self-interest. While organizing describes any activity involving people interacting with one another in a formal manner, much community organizing is in the pursuit of a common agenda. Many groups seek populist goals and the ideal of participatory democracy. Community organizers create social movements by building a base of concerned people, mobilizing these community members to act, and developing leadership from and relationships among the people involved. The need of the day is to aim at employing participatory approaches like PRA (Participatory Rural Appraisal) or more appropriately described as PLA (Participatory Learning and Action).
Robert Chambers defines PRA according to the following principles:
Handing over the stick (or pen or chalk): Facilitating investigation, analysis, presentation and learning by local people themselves, so they generate and own the outcomes and also learn.
Self-critical awareness: Facilitators continuously and critically examine their own behavior.
Personal responsibility: Taking responsibility for what is done rather than relying, for instance, on the authority of manuals or on rigid rules.
Sharing: Which involves the wide range of techniques now available, from chatting across the fence to photocopies, e-mail, SMSs, voice drop etc,.
PRA and PLA methods and approaches include: Do-it-yourself: local people as experts and teachers, and outsiders as beginners; Local analysis of secondary sources; Mapping and Modeling; Time lines and trend and change analysis; Seasonal calendars ; Daily time-use analysis ; Institutional diagramming ; Matrix scoring and ranking ; Shared presentations and analysis and Participatory planning, budgeting, implementation and monitoring.
Some examples of the widespread application of participatory planning include in the community-driven development approach advocated by the donor agencies, and in a number of examples of linking participatory community plans with local government planning.
Some challenges with these approaches are to ensure that all sections of the community are able to participate, and some approaches such as CBP disaggregated the community so that the livelihoods and preferred outcomes of different social groups can be identified. Many experiences with PRA and participatory planning have suffered from the lack of follow-up. PRA has often not been part of a system, but an ad-hoc process. Community Based Planning has tried to overcome this by linking it to the mainstream local government planning system.
Another challenge is where there are no funds to implement the plans afterward which can lead to participation fatigue by communities, and frustration. In the social investment funds supported by some of the Donor countries, participatory planning is often the first step, often leading to planning of infrastructure. In some cases such as Danida in India allocate amounts of around 30% to each project to implement activities arising from the project plan developed through CBP.
Participatory budgeting, participatory economics, participatory justice and public participation are the jargons having great value in the present times.
Community Practice is a branch of social work that focuses on larger social systems and social change, and is tied to the historical roots of social work. The field of community practice social work encompasses community organizing, social planning, human service management, community development, policy analysis, policy advocacy, evaluation, mediation, electronic advocacy and other larger systems interventions. In the field of social work, community practice is often contrasted with direct practice social work, in which social workers work directly with individuals solving micro-level problems. Community Practice has been referred to in the past as Macro Practice, though Community Practice is now the standard term in India.
Community Practice has considerable overlap with many other applied social sciences, such as urban planning, economic development, public affairs, rural sociology and nonprofit management. Community Practice Social Workers typically have a Masters in Social Work (MSW). There are several MSW programs that offer Community Practice Concentrations, while many other MSW programs offer specializations in one or several types of community practice, such as social services administration or policy analysis..
Community Building is a field of practices directed toward the creation or enhancement of community between individuals within a regional area or with a common interest. It is sometimes encompassed under the field of community development.
A wide variety of practices can be utilized for community building, ranging from simple events like small book clubs, to larger–scale efforts such as mass festivals and building construction projects that involve local participants rather than outside contractors.
Activists engaged in community building efforts in industrialized nations see the apparent loss of community in these societies as a key cause of social disintegration and the emergence of many harmful behaviors. They may see building community as a means to increase social justice, individual well-being and reduce negative impacts of otherwise disconnected individuals.
Scott Peck Model
"Community Building" also refers to a group process developed by Dr. M. Scott Peck. This practice brings together individuals to go through the four basic psychological stages that typify the formation of a cohesive group that has established trust and a deep sense of connection. As described in his book "The Different Drum", these four stages are known as "Pseudo-Community", "Chaos", "Emptiness" and "Community". Individuals within the group may be at different stages at different times, and may move back and forth through the stages.
According to Peck, moving into "Organisation", forming rules for the group, disrupts the process and prevents community.
Pseudo Community is where people are guarded but polite, talking of less important things and giving little away about themselves. Chaos is conflict. In Emptiness, participants "empty" themselves of their requirements and desires for the process and the other participants, enabling them to reach Community, in which they appreciate the process and other participants, and themselves, for who they are.
Community Organizing is a process by which people living in proximity to each other are brought together by an organization to act in their common self-interest. Community Organizers may act as area-wide coordinators of programs for different agencies in an attempt to meet community needs for various services. Community Organizers may work actively, as do other types of social workers, in community councils of social agencies and in community-action groups. At times the role of community organizers overlaps that of the social planners.
Common aspects of 'community organizing groups'
Organized community groups attempt to influence government, corporations and institutions as well as achieve increased direct representation within decision-making bodies and social reform. Where negotiations fail, these organizations seek to inform others outside of the organization of the issues being addressed and expose or pressure the decision-makers through a variety of means, including picketing, boycotting, sit-ins, petitioning, and electoral politics.
Community Organizing is usually focused on more than just resolving specific issues. Organizing seeks to make the participants that they are empowering all community members, often with the end goal of distributing power equally throughout the community.
Community Organizers generally seek to build groups that are democratic in governance, open and accessible to community members, and concerned with the general health of the community rather than a specific interest group.
The three basic types of community organizing are grassroots organizing, faith-based and community organizing, and coalition building. Political Campaigns often claim that their door-to-door operations are in fact an effort to organize the community, though often these operations are focused exclusively on voter identification and turn out.
The ideal of grassroots organizing is to build community groups from scratch, develop new leadership where none existed, and otherwise organize the unorganized. It is a values based process where people are brought together to act in the interest of their communities and the common good. It is a strategy that revitalizes communities and allows the individuals to participate and incite social change. It empowers the people directly involved and impacted by the issues being addressed. Coalition building efforts seek instead to unite existing groups, such as churches, civic associations, and social clubs, to more effectively pursue a common agenda. Predominate areas of focus include; creativity in education through enabling and inspiring students to think creatively, communicate effectively, and work collaboratively, using digital technology and communication tools; Commitment to community by understanding hunger and homelessness , protecting the environment, preserving arts and culture, access to electronic information for the disabled through vulnerability mapping exercises .
In the developmental context today few organizations are actively involved in several community outreach and revitalization efforts. the efforts include: Bridging the digital divide by setting up state-of-the-art labs in underprivileged schools; cash grants and software donations for classrooms; training programs for students, staff and school administrators; planting trees and other beautification efforts; endowment contributions for calamity victims; food and clothing donations.
Community Development (CD) is the process of helping communities strengthen it and develop towards its full potential. As facilitators, one needs to work in partnership with local people and organizations to meet identified needs. And believe that literacy is a key component of sustainable development. Purpose in Community Development is holistic People-Centered Development (e.g. spiritual, physical, social, economic and intellectual). Since language is a major tool that people use in meeting their needs, the approach to Community Development is based on language. In many communities, one needs to assist in the design of a suitable alphabet and a body of useful literature, as well as training aimed at the spread of reading skills and practices. Thus, vulnerability mapping is foundational for development projects wherever partners with communities. The process in Community Development is crucial to a project outcome. There is a need to seek to follow a process that builds people up as they work together toward a common goal. Some simple principles are evolved over the years; they have been formulated as a definition of a healthy process of Community Development.
Dr. Shivappa .R
Associate Professor, Dept. of Studies in Social Work, University of Mysore, Manasagangotri, Mysore.
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