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Paper Topic:

Community Development



Community development is a process which mobilizes the local people to participate in activities of common importance leading to betterment of the community as a whole . Community work on the other hand is a general term which is operative at the local level to actively involve members of the community as users of a service much more than as participants (Definition , 2006 . The process of community development appears to involve a number of activities related to economy , social , ethnicity building and construction

, health and hygiene and so on . The resources for these activities too come from a variety of sources . This renders community development extremely complex and is frequently seen as an activity full of constraints , ambiguities and contradictions . It also enables people with different identities to live together (Kenny 1994 . During an emergency situation , it is seen that a properly integrated community provides the most effective catalyst to mitigation and relief during a disaster . Thus there is a need to study the various approaches to community development

Community development

The United Nations has defined community development as a process of social action in which the people of a community organize themselves for planning and activity , defining their common and individuals needs to collectively solve problems , execute plans with maximum reliance on community resources , supplementing these when necessary with wherewithal provided by government and non government agencies outside the community (CDP , 2006 . The aim of community development has been stated as that of helping people to develop economically and socially viable groupings which can assist , strengthen and adequately support individual and social growth as well as enhance quality of life

There is a need to fully assimilate the difference between community development and other related terms to clarify the nuances and clear variation in interpretation . Community development aims to promote the community through the members who define the need as well as generate means to meet it . It uses creative and cooperative processes with professionals working in non directional ways . It is different from community action which entails campaigning and lobbying for community interests in developing policies . Community action has political overtones while community development focuses purely on growth of society . Community service on the other hand attempts to develop the society by maximizing group involvement in management and delivery . The distinct differences between these has been typified by Glen based on aims , participants , methods and roles as shown in Table 1 below (Glen 1993

Criteria Community Development Community Action Community Services Approach

Aims Promoting community

Campaigning for community interests and community policies Developing community oriented organizations and services

Participants Community defining and meeting own needs Structurally oppressed groups organizing for power Organizations /service users as partners

Methods Creative and co-operative processes Campaign tactics on concrete issues Maximizing community /user involvement and inter agency links

Roles Professionals working in a non-directive way Activists /organizers mobilizing for political action

Service managers restructuring transactions with users

Table 1

Constraints , Ambiguities and Contradictions

The complexity of the process of community development leads to a number of constraints , ambiguities and contradictions in its understanding There is an inherent contradiction between community development and economic growth . Economic growth is seen to focus on employment and other economic activities in a society . While community development is more concerned with development of individual capacities through collective involvement and entails a wider distribution of benefits more evenly throughout the society . In addition community development has the goal of improving quality of life and also involving all members of the community in the process

Community development needs funding and the moment communities take money from the government or non government organizations these come under the control of those who have allotted the money creating an inherent constraint within the community to conduct activities which are desired by its members but not acceptable to the donor (Gecan , 1993 The limitations imposed by external funding are enhanced as government assistance is reduced . If other sources are tapped , there is likely to be greater interference directly impinging on the interests of the community (Stoecker 1996 . These are also constrained in maximizing confrontational strategies to advantage against the government . Thus the policy of confrontation versus cooperation remains an eternal dilemma for engagement by communities with external dependencies . There is also a conflict between organizing and development , both of which are different processes . While organizing is process oriented with a greater reliance on intangibles as leadership , development and power development entails producing tangible results which can be easily observed (Vogel 1997

Community development in relation to emergency management

Community development has a very significant role in emergency management . The community will drive the emergency management system to ensure overall safety in periods of crisis through a process of developing policies for disaster mitigation and management , volunteer support services , youth programs , emergency helicopter services chemical and other hazard management services and so on . Community development will enable buidling capacity and develop a volunteer network locally and then go on to expand the same state and nation wide These in turn can contribute to learning and training for disaster mitigation and relief . Community safety and sustainbility support is another key function which is enabled by an effective community development program directed at attaining capability to deal with emergencies . This includes grants and subsidies , administration resource management , funding arrangements and programs . The actual disaster mitigation and management will also be faciltiated through community development by coordination of implementation of measures for emergency within the community as well as throughout the area covered by the disaster (Community , 2006

Communities at the local , state or national level can act as catalysts for risk assessment , training , information and knowledge management prevention , preparedness , response and recovery . Communities will consider measures which are pre disaster such as projects to prevent or mitigate disasters and emergencies and their effects including community preparedness and post disaster response and recovery . For example a local government could put in place a community development program following a flood or a community group could develop a program to mitigate disaster through safe , earthquake proof construction in its close vicinity (Safer Communities , 2006

Local , National , Global contexts of Community Development

The growing awareness of effectiveness of community development programs in resolution of simple , day to day issues of significance as well as facilitating networking during emergencies has led to these being implemented at the local , national and global level . At the global level the process is used across the board and primarily in third world countries to bring about development . There is an involvement of a number of international agencies in funding as well as management of these programs . International agencies as the US AID and the World Bank are also known to be active participants in these programs at the national and local level . National level agencies are actively integrating resources to coordinate utilization and enable economy transfer best practices and achieve overall synergy . Implementation of the programs is best achieved at the local level as it enables incorporating local cultures , practices , traditions and customs , which create attitudes in assimilation which will finally determine the success or otherwise of such programs (Leadership , 2003

Common approaches to community development

There are a number of approaches which have been adopted for Community Development . One such approach deems carrying out economic and community development concurrently within the same frame work . Thus it is felt that in case the economic climate in a community is distressed community building is a difficult process , while where residents thrive there is increased scope for the same . An example of concurrent conduct of both the programs is the successful creation of 1 ,266 jobs by the New Community Corporation in addition to a corpus of 95 million in creating a healthy community growth program

Another approach deems neighborhood as the key to community development which strengthens capacity and decision making ability of local societies . This can be achieved by adopting a number of strategies such as by maximizing the commitment , capacity , and efforts of the residents and institutions , allotting authority for public functions , increase the capital investment , promote housing and infra structure development and create quality delivery systems (Zdenek , 1994

Another approach is that of building social capital or social assets which implies building social network of friends , neighbors , families and organizations to contribute to the societal , physical and economic well being of the community as a whole (Building Civil Renewal , 2003 This can be build through bridging capital involving people of different ethnic groups through formation of youth service groups and so on , build the capital of homogenous groups and linking capital by bringing together people involved in different activities within the community such as funders , local government bodies and resident groups (CDL Learning , 2004 . Asset based approach is the fourth means which as the name suggests focuses on assessing the availability of skills and resources within the community and then mobilizing these for the common good (Asset , 2005


Community development above all will require the commitment of workers who are dedicated to up lifting the society in which they live . This will require building specific attitudes , capacities , knowledge and skills (Kenny , 1994 . This will lead to collective empowerment , which is the key to community development and in turn will result in dilemmas and contradictions which will have to be rationalized for mutual gain


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