Community Development Assessment :
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Community development is a process that empowers individuals and groups to work together to address social, economic, and political issues affecting their lives. It aims to build strong communities based on equality, social justice, and mutual respect by enabling ordinary people to take part in the decision-making process that impacts their lives. This essay will explore the concept of community development, its importance, the role of community development workers in the process, and the principles of community development. Specifically, it will focus on the principle of self-determination and describe a community development project that applies this principle.
What is Community Development?
Community development is a process of empowering individuals and groups to work together to address social, economic, and political issues that affect their lives(Buye, 2021). It is a bottom-up approach that enables people to identify their own needs and create solutions that meet those needs. According to Butcher (2008), community development involves three core elements: community building, community empowerment, and community renewal. Community building involves creating social networks and relationships among community members, while community empowerment aims to provide individuals and groups with the skills and resources needed to take control of their lives. Community renewal is the process of revitalizing communities through economic, social, and environmental development(Zheng et al., 2017).
Why is Community Development and Community Participation Important?
Community development and community participation are important because they promote social inclusion, civic engagement, and democratic decision-making(Howard & Wheeler, 2015). They empower individuals and groups to take control of their lives and build stronger, more resilient communities. Community participation encourages active citizenship and helps to build social capital, which is the trust, reciprocity, and norms of cooperation that enable communities to function effectively By involving community members in decision-making processes, community development creates a sense of ownership and responsibility among individuals, leading to more sustainable and effective solutions to social, economic, and environmental problems.
What is the Role of Community Development Workers in the Process?
Community development workers play a crucial role in facilitating the community development process(Van Rooyen, 2014). They act as catalysts, bringing together individuals and groups to identify and address community issues. They work to build relationships and networks among community members, empowering them to take control of their lives and make decisions that affect their community. Community development workers may facilitate meetings, coordinate programs, and provide training and support to community members. They may also advocate for community issues and provide a link between the community and government agencies or other organizations (Gilchrist, 2011).
Principle of Self-Determination
Self-determination is a principle of Community Development Assessment that recognizes the importance of empowering individuals and groups to take control of their lives. Self-determination involves the ability to make choices, set goals, and take action based on one’s own values and preferences. It is a fundamental human right that is enshrined in international law (United Nations, 1966). Self-determination recognizes the unique cultural, social, and economic circumstances of each community and acknowledges that individuals and groups are best placed to identify and address their own needs(Szpak, 2018).
Community Development Project Demonstrating the Principle of Self-Determination
One example of a community development project that demonstrates the principle of self-determination is the Women’s Economic Empowerment Project (WEEP) in rural Kenya. The project aims to empower women in rural communities by providing them with the skills and resources needed to start and run their own businesses. The project is implemented by the NGO, The BOMA Project, and works with women in marginalized communities in the arid and semi-arid lands of Kenya.
The Women’s Economic Empowerment Project begins by identifying and mobilizing women in the community. Once the women are organized, they are provided with training in business skills, financial management, and entrepreneurship. The women are also given small grants to start their own businesses, and are provided with ongoing support and mentorship to ensure their businesses succeed(Bullough et al., 2015). The project is designed to empower women to take control of their own lives by providing them with the skills and resources needed to generate income and support their families.
The Women’s Economic Empowerment Project demonstrates the principle of self-determination in several ways.
First, the project is community-driven, with women taking the lead in identifying their own needs and priorities. The project recognizes that women in rural communities are best placed to identify the barriers to their economic empowerment and develop solutions that are appropriate to their own cultural and economic context.
Second, the Women’s Economic Empowerment Project provides women with the skills and resources needed to start and run their own businesses. By providing women with the training and resources needed to generate income, the project enables women to take control of their own lives and make choices based on their own values and preferences. This not only enhances their economic status but also empowers them to participate more fully in the decision-making processes that affect their lives and their communities.
Third, the Women’s Economic Empowerment Project promotes collective action by bringing women together to form business groups(Buvinić & Furst-Nichols, 2014). These groups provide women with a support network, enabling them to share ideas and resources and work together to overcome common challenges. By promoting collective action, the project enhances the sense of community and social capital, which in turn strengthens the resilience of the community as a whole.
Community Development Assessment is a process that empowers individuals and groups to work together to address social, economic, and political issues that affect their lives. It is based on the principles of social justice, empowerment, collective action, capacity building, and self-determination. Self-determination is a fundamental principle of community development that recognizes the importance of empowering individuals and groups to take control of their lives. The Women’s Economic Empowerment Project in rural Kenya is an example of a community development project that demonstrates the principle of self-determination by empowering women to take control of their own economic lives. Community development workers play a critical role in facilitating the community development process by acting as catalysts, building relationships, and empowering individuals and groups to take control of their lives and build stronger, more resilient communities.
Bullough, A., de Luque, M. S., Abdelzaher, D., & Heim, W. (2015). Developing Women Leaders through Entrepreneurship Education and Training. Academy of Management Perspectives, 29(2), 250–270. https://doi.org/10.5465/amp.2012.0169
Buvinić, M., & Furst-Nichols, R. (2014). Promoting Women’s Economic Empowerment: What Works?: Table 1. The World Bank Research Observer, lku013. https://doi.org/10.1093/wbro/lku013
Buye, R. (2021). Effective approaches to community development. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/353244989_Effective_approaches_to_community_development
Howard, J., & Wheeler, J. (2015). What community development and citizen participation should contribute to the new global framework for sustainable development. Community Development Journal, 50(4), 552–570. https://doi.org/10.1093/cdj/bsv033
Szpak, A. (2018). The Right of Indigenous Peoples to Self-Determination: International Law Perspective. Athenaeum Polskie Studia Politologiczne, 59, 178–204. https://doi.org/10.15804/athena.2018.59.12
Van Rooyen, D. (2014). COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT WORKERS: FOUR LESSONS FROM INTERNATIONAL EXPERIENCE OF COMMUNITY-BASED WORKERS. Social Work/Maatskaplike Werk, 43(3). https://doi.org/10.15270/43-3-270
Zheng, H. W., Shen, G. Q., Song, Y., Sun, B., & Hong, J. (2017). Neighborhood sustainability in urban renewal: An assessment framework. Environment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science, 44(5), 903–924. https://doi.org/10.1177/0265813516655547
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