What is development? Certainly, one of the goals in community-based development is for community members to cultivate their capacity to lead productive, healthy, meaningful, self-reliant lives—and to be able to contribute to the development of their communities—autonomously.
Last month we talked about how developing community ownership is a cornerstone of sustainable project development. This month we explore the next step of empowering the community: creating a community based project management team. Engaging community members in a committee where they will learn leadership, decision-making skills, organizational management, and gain a sound understanding of the tools and activities included the development project—is like on-the-job training.
This community-based planning and oversight committee—is the community team that you will partner with on your project’s final planning stages, launch, implementation, and community takeover. Examples could be committees on water, health, education, disaster preparedness, flood control, soil restoration, reforestation, agriculture, or alternative livelihoods. I’m going to walk you through the steps of planning and organizing a workshop to do this.
Let’s analyze why you would want a village water committee. If an NGO arrives in the community with funding to develop a water system, spends a year designing and installing the water system, and then leaves, who will oversee and maintain the water system into the future?
In many development projects, as the NGO’s project nears completion, the beneficiaries have not been prepared to receive the continuation of project activities (e. g. maintaining a new water system). For example, in a recent report, it was noted that almost 50% of village water projects in developing nations fell into disuse within two years. One of the reasons cited is that community members were not trained in the management of the systems nor in their maintenance. The formation and training of community-based management committees can work to solve this challenge.
When a community is engaged in developing a project that meets their needs, and is involved in project implementation, is trained in the maintenance of project outputs—and when this process is overseen by a responsible committee—the project has a much greater likelihood of being successful in the long term.
What are your thoughts on communiity members partnering in an NGO supported project?
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