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By Phil Bartle, PhD

From the Community Management Strategy

This document describes the strategy as a whole, providing details and inter-linkages between elements of that strategy. See A Sketch of the A Sketch of the Strategy

Introduction; The Three Major Parts of the Strategy:

The three parts of the strategy (1) stimulation community participation, (2) management training, and (3) promoting an enabling environment, are reviewed in this introduction, then explicated in detail in the following three parts.

Element A: Community Participation:

This is a standard or orthodox intervention cycle, sometimes called the problem solving cycle, the mobilization cycle or the community development cycle. Community participation does not usually happen spontaneously in a community. It requires trained mobilizers to work (intervene) in the community.

The essential process is something like this: First you (the mobilizer) get permission and authorization to do your work. Then you start raising awareness in the community awareness that there are problems.

You caution against people assuming that you will solve the problems but point out that the community has the potential resources to solve its own problems. All it needs is the will, and perhaps some management skills which you can help them get. You facilitate their community unification, assessment and agreeing on a priority goal. You help them to organize an executive committee, or (re)vitalize an existing one. You help them prepare an action plan and project design. You cheer them on as they, not you, implement it, ensuring that there is transparency, monitoring, reporting. You help them celebrate its completion, then to evaluate the results.

The second assessment starts the process all over again, which is why we call it a cycle. The second time they are stronger and more self reliant, and perhaps you have identified local mobilizers who will help sustain the cycle as you slowly withdraw.

Element B: Community Management:

This is a combination of two methods, management training and trade union organizing. Management training was first developed for high level executives in large corporations, as a means of making their organizations and decision making processes more effective and profitable.

It was then seen as a method that could strengthen any decision making organization. It is applied to communities in conjunction with the community development cycle.

It centres around four key questions: "What do we have?" "What do we want?" "How do we use what we have to get what we want?" and "What will happen when we do?" Based upon structured brainstorming techniques, a facilitator can draw out of managers, in a non-criticising or non-threatening manner, the structural reorganization needed for improving efficiency and capacity.

Trade union organizing, in contrast, was developed along with the trade union movement to organize labourers to unite, become more empowered, and fight for their rights (eg better working conditions, pay, benefits). The combination of these two results in a training methodology that goes well beyond skill transfer, for empowerment by re-organization.

Element C: Enabling Environment:

Each community exists within a political, administrative, social and economic environment. It is mainly composed of laws, regulations, procedures, practices, information and attitudes. The three foci of the environment are the (1) central government, (2) regional or district government or administration, and (3) non- governmental organizations. Each impinges upon the community in different ways.

The variation between (and inside) countries is immense, so the strategy must be very flexible to account for those variations.

The strategy focuses on the changing of the environment to become more conducive to empowering low income communities, poverty eradication, including the enablement of self help developmental activities, the legality and legitimization of community based organizations, the availability of credit for low-income private investment and communal investment (human settlements services and facilities).

This includes advocacy, the provision of expertise and finance, the production of guidelines, model documents, skill training, international and intranational networking and sharing of experiences and goals, aimed at changes in laws, regulations, procedures, practices and attitudes.

Variations in the Strategy:

The factors that require variations in the strategy are explained here.

The degree and nature of enablement in the environment:

Where the environment is more conducive to empowerment and poverty reduction, the strategy can concentrate more on the first two parts. Where there is a more hierarchical and centralized government, efforts will be greater in the third part; perhaps in co-operation with other agencies, bilateral assistance, and other initiatives of UNCHS such as the urban management programme and even sustainable cities. Where there are few or no local or international NGOs, the strategy will advocate for their creation, acceptance, and ability to function.

The current level and varieties of community participation:

Where community participation is well accepted and practised, the strategy will concentrate more on management training (assuming that the environment will also already be more conducive). Where community participation is not practised, and not well understood, the strategy will focus on advocacy and training in methods (as, for example, the community participation training programme of CDP in Zambia, Bolivia and Sri Lanka).

The level of urbanization, ethnic heterogeneity, and urban facilities:

Where urbanization is rapid or much advanced, as in many parts of Asia, the mobilization cycle for community empowerment must be adapted from its traditional rural roots. Where the population has less inherent communal loyalty (more tenants, shorter residences of transient migrants, ethnic and language heterogeneity), the existence of (often free) sophisticated urban facilities and services in richer neighbourhoods, the strategy will focus more on advocacy, residents' rights, crime prevention, consensus building, and social services, and less on facility construction and support for farming communities.

The levels of consensus and unity within each community:

Community consensus and unity is a prerequisite for determining community priority goals; where it is lacking, it needs to be built so it can precede goal setting and management training. Where it exists, it can be used as a prerequisite and foundation for the mobilization and problem solving cycle.

The core features of the technology and economy: (eg: fishing, farming, industrial, commercial).

Since technology and economy affect social organization and thus the social organization of communities (eg nomadic herders have different arrangements and practices than fishing, farming, commercial or industrial communities), the mobilization cycle and management training must be flexible and modifiable, to be sensitive, responsive and adapted to those variations. Training of mobilizers and management trainers must include the ability to observe and analyse the nature and functioning of the target communities.

The level and nature of management skills and organization:

Where management skills and community organizations exist already, the management training will focus more on using the four key questions as an instrument of re-organization for increased effectiveness (capacity re-building rather than capacity creation). Part of the responsibility of the management trainers must therefore be to observe, analyse and be sensitive to those levels, and adapt their training appropriately.

The nature, status and influence of NGOs:

NGOs may be (a) local or national, or (b) international. In the promotion of civic engagement and community participation, the creation and strengthening of local NGOs can be a useful channel for increasing the involvement of the citizens. Where international NGOs bring in expertise and finance, if they are guided towards enabling and facilitating self reliance, they can be a valuable resource to supplement and complement Governmental efforts. The strategy therefore must assess the existence, activities, legality, legitimacy, acceptance, impact, and influence of both types of NGOs, and adapt accordingly.


All training in the strategy (for skill transfer, awareness raising, information dispersal and re-organization) is:

  • non-formal (relaxed, informal, adult oriented, friendly);
  • unorthodox (not bound by conventional practices and assumptions);
  • demand-driven (based upon and sensitive to participants' perceived and expressed needs, sometimes stimulated by the facilitator, mobilizer or trainer);
  • on-the-job (where the action takes place, relevant to the training topic);
  • context-oriented (based upon the current action and needs associated with that phase);
  • non-classroom (as much as possible, outside and away from classroom settings);
  • non-lecture (emphasizing doing and participation rather than passively seeing and listening to lectures and presentations);
  • facilitative (where the trainer draws all answers out of the participants); and
  • participatory (where participants do not act as a passive audience, but as the core actors of the training).

Gender Balance:

Gender balance is not just about women, but about the relationship between men and women, and the full participation of both men and women, no matter what their biological and social characteristics may be. This is not merely a question of politically correct lip service to human rights, but is based upon pragmatic realities.

Experience has shown that when women participate in wealth generation, in shelter initiatives, in community activities, they bring with them many characteristics that enhance the processes far more than if only males were involved. Furthermore, the economy can not function optimally if fifty percent of the population is systematically excluded.

Good governance is hampered by a similar exclusion. Culture is alive; it must therefore grow and change. Culture that is preserved and does ot change is dead.

Pro-active and affirmative action approaches to gender balance do not necessarily mean being opposed to or in opposition to culture; they assist cultures to grow stronger by being adaptive and alive.

Part A: Community Participation:

Participation of all members of a target community (irrespective of biological or social characteristics) is essential to both poverty reduction and community strengthening. Here "participation," specifically means full community (not only some factions of a community) participation in control and decision making.

The key decisions to be made, and control to be exercised, include: assessing situations (needs and potentials); determining priority problems (and generating goals from them); planning actions (community action plans, project designs): implementing and monitoring them, and evaluating their results. The community as a whole takes responsibility (not leaving that to an outside party).

Contributions of resources (eg donations, communal labour, supplies), dialogue and consultation with external agencies are encouraged, although "participation" (in this strategy) is much more comprehensive and inclusive than either "contribution" or "consultation."

Community Participation Promotion:

The mobilization cycle, the problem solving cycle, or the community development cycle:

  • Is a series of interventions in a logical and progressive order;
  • Is carried out by a legitimate, authorized and recognized mobilizer (or mobilizers);
  • Uses the community choice of action as a means of strengthening, not as an end in itself;
  • Requires that the mobilizer(s) be informed and sensitive to community characteristics;
  • Can be implemented by a ministry or department at central or district level, or by a non-governmental organization;
  • Is not "bottom-up," community-based or "grass-roots" in its origin, but aims at "bottom-up" community-based or "grass-roots" strengthening as its goal;and
  • Promotes (encourages, advocates for, trains in skills necessary for, and supports) community participation in control and decision making of all actions affecting the community as a whole.

The main steps in the cycle:

  • Are logically linked with each other and to the cycle as a whole;
  • Are all needed (absence of any one will seriously weaken its impact);
  • Are initiated in the following order, although there may be some overlap and continuation.

Sensitizing Authorities and Getting Permissions:

The community mobilizers must be recognized by authority and obtain legal status if they are not to be vulnerable to arrest as seditious agitators, and harassed by police and others concerned with maintaining law and order.

Furthermore, it is among the authorities where the most vested interest lies in maintaining the "provision" approach and fear of the "enablement" approach, as civil servants, officials, politicians, traditional and new leaders, and technical experts see immediate benefits of the provision approach as a means to influence, popularity, votes, promotions and career advances.

Sensitization is not just a formality, but must be well planned and executed.

Raising Awareness Among Community Members:

Before encouraging the community to act (and therefore learn and become stronger) the mobilizer must make the community members aware of specific realities. These include:

  • If they remain passive and expectant of government or other outside help, then they will remain with the burden of poverty and weakness;
  • No community is totally poor; if there are live humans in it then it has resources and potentials, including labour, creativity, life, desires, and survival skills and living attributes;
  • People will be more likely to join in and help when you are already helping yourself;
  • The mobilizer (and the mobilizer's agency or department) does not bring resources (funds, roofing materials, pipes), but is there to encourage and assist in some management training and guidance.

During this step, it is important to avoid raising false expectations, and actively counteract the inevitable assumptions and rumours about the kind of assistance to expect.

Situation Analysis and Participatory Assessment:

Although the mobilizer must first make an assessment of community resources, potentials, hindrances and needs, the strategy of the mobilization cycle requires that an assessment be done with the community as a whole. This might not be done all at once, and may be done or continued to be done by the community executive later, after it is formed and organized.

All future plans and actions in the intervention must be made on the bases of observed reality, not on the imaginings or special interests of specific factions within the community. The needs and potentials must be recognized by everyone in the community.

Unity Organizing; Consensus Building:

No community is unified; there are schisms and factions in every one. The degree varies.

When there is much social disparity, it is more difficult to reach a community consensus of the priority problem, and thus the priority goal. Unity organizing is a necessary precedent to most community mobilization, and continues throughout the cycle as needed.

Defining Priorities; Problems and Goals:

When the community is sufficiently unified, and when all factions are involved, including women and disabled and other persons less likely to enjoy full participation in community decisions, it is time to set the community into action. That is done by obtaining a consensus of priority problem, and turning it around as a way to identify the priority goal. The brainstorming technique is one of the tools to use here.

Making a Community Action Plan:

The community must agree on what it wants to achieve over the next period of time, one year, five years (usually the same period as for the district plans). The plan can also include one or several community projects.

Organizing a CIC, Executive Committee:

Because the details of a project design can not be accomplished in a public meeting of hundreds of people, it is practically necessary for the community to form an executive (Project Committee, Development Committee, CIC or Community Implementing Committee). This should be chosen by consensus if voting will contribute to factionalism and schisms; here the mobilizer must be aware of and sensitive to community values and practices.

The mobilizer then needs to train the committee in participatory planning, management and leadership, so that it does not become non-transparent (secretive) to the community as a whole. The CIC should review the action plan, add details as needed, and prepare a project design for community approval (again using the participatory methods encouraged by the mobilizer).

Here it is necessary to look more into the community management strategy (in Part B) and integrate it into this mobilization cycle.

Implementation and Monitoring:

At this point the community and its leaders, like the politicians and journalists, will be more interested in the actions and results (eg the building of the latrine, water supply, clinic or school), and needs to be reminded and encouraged that monitoring and reporting must be concurrent with the action. This is where community enthusiasm can decline or be destroyed, if the action (especially in its finances) is not transparent, and made fully clear to all the community members.

While the goal of the community is the finished facility, the goal of the strategy and mobilizer is increased community strength and capacity, so emphasis is put on monitoring and reporting (verbal and written).

Also (see the community management part), this is where the community becomes aware of more needed training in skills related to the action (financial and accounting skills, report writing, technical skills), and where, again, the Part B of the strategy must be integrated with this mobilization cycle.

Assessment and Evaluation (of Impact):

While the monitoring and reporting is aimed at observing the action in order to make adjustments and avoid getting off track, it is then supplemented by more in-depth assessment and evaluation.

This includes the assessment of impact of the action, and a value judgement about how it was carried out, if it should have been carried out, and what instead should have been planned. This in turn opens the door to repeating the cycle, because it serves the same purpose as the initial situation analysis and community assessment.

Repeating the Cycle:

This is not a once-and-for-all action. It is a process of social change (development) and must be sustained.

While the community will be at a higher level of empowerment that before implementing this first cycle, it should be initiated again. Furthermore, the mobilizer must train a replacement in view of eventual departure, and the series of mobilizers should identify internal mobilizers (who will not use the mobilizing techniques for their own personal benefit at the expense of community strengthening) from within the community who will be able to sustain the stimulation and interventions after the mobilizers' agency or ministry moves on.

Each step of the mobilization cycle is related to those before and after it, and to the cycle as a whole. There is a logical and functional order to the steps. Each time the cycle is repeated, it is done so on the basis of assessments made during the previous cycle, and builds upon the results of the strengthening that has already taken place.

Other Capacity Development Interventions:

The following interventions are also part of the mobilization strategy, but may be inserted at various points in the mobilization cycle. This can be determined by the mobilizer, if knowledgeable and sensitive to the changing conditions in the community.

  • Assessment and analysis of existing local organizations (elders' or other councils, women's groups, credit rotation groups, people's movements, associations of special interest groups, such as the disabled or other vulnerable groups), before, during and after each of the cycles;
  • Enhancing local organizations (ensuring representation and participation in community affairs), promoting gender participation, assisting in legal status of community organizations;
  • Fostering co-operative and functional relationships between various organizations: promoting opportunities for co-ordination and pooling of local resources (human, capital, supplies, land);
  • Income and employment generation, emphasizing training, credit, marketing;
  • Settlement shelter and infrastructure upgrading;
  • Environmental activities (eg promoting community-based waste management systems which protect natural resources); and
  • Participatory disaster mitigation and management (refugee camps, resettlement, rehabilitation).

The goals of mobilization to develop a community may vary from county to county. Nevertheless, common elements include: poverty eradication, good governance, change in social organization (development), community capacity building, empowering low income and marginalized people, and gender balance.

Part B: Community Management:

The main feature of "community management training" goes well beyond the orthodox purpose of training, (the transfer of skills to the trainees, awareness raising, information transfer, and encouragement) most importantly, it includes organizational strengthening.

Where no organization existed, it creates new structures designed to obtain the results desired by the community; where some organization already exists, it re-structures for increased effectiveness in obtaining the objectives generated and chosen by the community.

The organizing is built upon the four central management questions (What do we want? What do we have? How do we best use what we have to get what we want? and What will happen when we do?)

Community Management Training:

Management training for strengthening communities is integrated with community participation promotion and the mobilization cycle. The training is designed for organizing plus skill transferring.

Organizing the Community and its Executive for Decisions:

The formation of the executive should be done in a meeting of all community members. The mobilizer must counteract assumptions about whom should be chosen, explaining the needed characteristics of the most appropriate person for each role, especially treasurer (trustworthiness is more important, for example, than education).

When the executive is chosen, the mobilizer trains or arranges for training of the executive in participatory planning, leadership and management techniques. The emphasis is on transparency, so that the whole community participates in the major decisions of the executive, and has full access to all information, especially financial. Further training in brainstorming techniques is put in here.

Management Training: the Four Key Questions:

There are two types of organizing; (1) organizing for decision making, and (2) organizing for effective action.

The above input is aimed at organizing for decision making, involving decisions of the whole community. This input is organizing for effective action (roles, timing, quantities, actions, responsibilities for the selected project or other community action) are determined here.

Organizing is centred on the four key management questions. These are used for more than planning objectives, but also community strategies, and organizational division of labour. This is organizing for action.

Project Design; and Organization for Action:

The project design should be discussed thoroughly by the executive, then presented to the whole community for any necessary modifications and approval. It includes the following:

  • Identify the priority problem;
  • Identify the goal (the general solution to the identified problem);
  • Identify the specific objectives (based on the goal, the objectives are "SMART" ─ specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound). They must be finite, verifiable, quantifiable, and have a completion date;
  • Identify actual and potential resources (from within the community, and external);
  • Identify constraints, and possible means of overcoming them;
  • Generate several strategies, and choose the best from among them;
  • Identify how the project is to be monitored, at all phases, and by all stake holders.

Appendices to Community Project Design:

Some appendices that can be added include:

  • Budget (indicating all sources of revenue, non monetary donations; and expenditures);
  • Time schedule or bar chart;
  • Any other details to be added outside the flow of the argument listed above;
  • Any needed lists (eg members of executive, allocated roles, attendance, others).

The project design should be written down, with copies made for the executive, public display, and regional or district planners and councils. The project design format can also be used as a proposal for outside funding, presented to potential donor agencies. The mobilizer should not write the project design, but encourage and guide the community executive in writing it.

Skill Training:

As the project is planned and gets underway, the executive may become more aware of the lack of certain management and administrative skills needed to complete the project (eg in management, financial, credit, and technical or craft skills). If not, the mobilizer can certainly indicate or suggest some.

The training arranged for these should be as indicated above (eg non-formal, facilitative, on-the-job). All such training should be related to the chosen community action and appropriate to the phase or step of the community project or mobilization cycle.

Monitoring and Reporting:

The strategy argues that monitoring is as important to community actions as seeing is to riding a bicycle.

Monitoring is taught to all stake holders, and skills in verbal and written reporting are included in that training. Systems for communicating monitoring information are set up, so that the executive and the community can make any appropriate and necessary adjustments to the project implementation so as to keep it on track.

Management Information and Information Management:

The executive and the community are shown that the needed information for the project must be managed (eg collected, stored, retrieved, analysed, used). The kind of information that is needed is management information (eg financial flows, status or situations, actions taken, results of actions). Management training includes setting up such communications systems.

Gender Balance Training:

The training goes beyond politically correct awareness raising about the current gender imbalances (and how nice it would be if there were equality), but shows how more efficient development will accrue to gender balanced planning and action, and how that can be achieved in the context of existing developing cultural practices and attitudes.

Conflict Resolution and Team Building:

Whenever there is action and social change, there will arise differences of opinions, vested interests, alternate strategies, personality conflicts and structural schisms. Team building exercises are designed to counteract these, minimize their negative effects (without losing the positive energy and dynamism that can result from them), and move on to agreeing on and achieving community objectives.

Networking; Making Linkages (Vertical and Horizontal):

Empowerment is a matter of "know-who" as well as "know-how." See Elements of Community Strength." The strategy assists in the empowerment of communities by acting as a broker to networking, arranging conferences and exchanges to encourage the building of necessary linkages.


Developing partnerships between public and private sector, NGOs, CBOs and communities:

Where relationships between low income communities and central and district governments have been characterized by considerable inequality (based on the holding of finances and information by the authorities), the strategy seeks to create or strengthen partnerships, promoting greater equality and a more balanced relationship. Expanding this, the strategy seeks to do the same with other actors in the developmental process, CBOs, NGOs, and the private or commercial sector.

Resource Acquisition; Fund Raising:

There are many varied sources of revenue potentially available for communities to use in investing in development and self management. See "Resource Acquisition."

These include but are not limited to taxation (where legally permitted), fund-raising (from community members, outside donors, fund-raising campaigns and a wide range of other sources), lobbying for ceded funds, and charging user fees and flat rates for services or facilities. The strategy seeks to raise awareness about the alternatives, and training and guidelines in skills and techniques of resource acquisition.

Leadership Training; Team Building:

Skills in leadership and building consensus and unity are needed if the strengthening process is to become sustainable. Encouragement and training of community leaders (starting with the community executive) is a part of the strategy.

Micro Enterprise Formation and Strengthening:

The strategy includes poverty reduction by (1) community strengthening by self help construction of communal facilities and services, and (2) using mobilization techniques to create and support viable micro-enterprises, with a focus on low income women, including training, organizing and some credit support where appropriate (or co-operating with complementary agencies).

See: "Micro Enterprise Scheme,"  "Handbook for Generating Wealth," and "Income Generation Illustrations," for more details.

Support for Micro Enterprise:

Encouraging formation of new enterprises and enhancing existing ones:

Micro enterprise in this strategy is precisely that: micro (very tiny). As with the Grameen bank, the sizes of the loans in this scheme can be as small as about $20 and range upwards to around $200. This is not support to co-operatives or small businesses that need loans of $30,000 or more. The emphasis is on training and support to very low income women. If they can not make a profit on a $100 loan, then they should not seek larger loans until they get training and experience in making viable enterprises.


Promoting thrift, credit rotation, and credit union formation and strengthening:

Credit rotation clubs are traditional throughout Africa and Asia and other parts of the world. The strategy builds upon these groups, channelling the collected money into savings, grouping them together and linking up with credit unions and commercial banks, and obtaining loans from those institutions and breaking them into smaller loans for members to engage in micro enterprise.


Construction and development of shelter and community infrastructure, training, upgrading and supplementing private contractors, especially women and vulnerable groups:

Combining the needs for skilled labour in the construction of communal facilities (part of the mobilization cycle), the training is aimed a women and disabled people in the community who can then use the technical skills for obtaining private income.

Technical and Vocational Upgrading:

The training of women in artisan's skills (including carpentry, masonry, construction) traditionally associated with men is a deliberate element of the strategy to realize more of the potential of women and assist them in breaking the gender barrier in the workplace.

Developing and Enhancing Groups:

Enhancing existing groups (eg those based upon traditional credit rotation) with training in skills for obtaining credit, managing credit, savings, and management and financial training to start and run viable profitable enterprises:

The strategy is aimed at low income women (and men), not at those who could get credit already. It uses traditional institutions and adapts them to the creation of wealth as a means of eradicating poverty.

Management Training Instruments:

The following describe some of the means of improving management training skills.


Awareness raising and information sharing seminars and conferences. Conferences and seminars are different things, but both have roles in the strategy.

In seminars, the presentations are more technical, while in conferences they are aimed more at policies. Both are fora (forums) for sharing experiences and developing new ideas and concepts that can be useful in the empowerment process.

Skill Transfer Training Workshops:

A workshop is a place or event for working, not for being entertained. See "Preparing a Workshop." A workshop should have an output; usually a document, a declaration, a set of guidelines or some other product.

If it is a training workshop, there must be evidence of the participants knowing new skills or being better organized at the end of the workshop. In management training, the themes and outputs are related to the overall strategy of community empowerment and poverty eradication.

Organizing (and Re-organizing) Meetings and Sessions:

This is the training as a means of organizing (in contrast to just skill transfer) particular to management training. Using techniques such as brainstorming, or the four key questions, the facilitator draws responses out of the participants in such a way as to organize or reorganize the group for decision making or for accomplishing something (action).

Networking Fora:

Fora (forums) for networking, inter-district, intranational and inter-national:

As well as advocacy of the key issues leading to low income community empowerment and poverty alleviation, the sharing of experiences and networking with other groups, participants, mobilizers, and other stake holders helps these to be implemented in a more universal manner, in contrast to isolated pockets or a vacuum.

Public Information Through the Media:

As part of the public awareness raising aspects of the strategy, in all three parts, the principles can be put into public media (radio, tv, newspapers), as advertisements, as magazine or documentary articles, and as news anecdotes. All community functions (celebrations, ceremonies, key events), for example, should have journalists from the three media present.

Training, Strategy and Planning Guidelines:

Creation and development of training, strategy and planning guidelines:

District and local co-ordinators and mobilizers should endeavour to prepare training material in simple English/Spanish and in local languages (using consultants if appropriate). General training guidelines aimed at the trainers and co-ordinators can be useful in cataloguing ideas and methods, and can contribute to overall consistency and uniformity (allowing for variations in situations). General guidelines also can be used as professional papers for distribution in intranational and international conferences and workshops

Development of General and Local Training Material:

Training material, based upon the methodology and principles described in the guidelines, should be prepared in simple English (French, Spanish or other as appropriate) and in local languages as needed.

The training material should consist of manuals, handouts, overhead transparencies, printed documents, web pages, guides for trainers, video tapes, audio tapes, role playing guidelines, skits and plays, and facilitation tips.

Translating and Printing Training Material in Local Languages:

The strategy should prepare guidelines for the production of these materials. It should also finance for producing them at local levels.

Posters, Signs, Reproducible Graffiti:

Popular and colourful posters and signs, calendars, slogans and quotations, related to the principles advocated in the strategy, can be produced and reproduced for posting in public places, offices, and on location of community projects.

Campaigns, Competitions, Public Events:

Public events, such as Habitat Day, UN day, and other opportunities, can be used for presenting songs, dances, plays, skits and other semi entertainment (avoiding boring speeches and harangues by politicians and opportunists) which illustrate the principles and methods of this strategy in empowering low-income communities and poverty elimination.

Part C: Enabling Environment:

This part of the strategy means working towards an administrative and socio- economic- politico environment that enables and encourages self help improvement, actions towards self reliance, community empowerment, and the eradication of poverty from a community approach.

Guidelines for Initiating and Modifying Legislative Policy:

Support to committees responsible for legislative reform (in community empowerment sectors): See "Guidelines for Preparing a Policy Paper."

Resulting from advocacy, Government may set up or revitalize working committees for the production of policy papers or law reform. The strategy calls for financial support for committee meetings (preferably rotated in the field, not only meeting in the capital city), venue rental, refreshments, daily allowances, and technical support (technical specialists and facilitators for committee meetings aimed at the desired outputs).

Ministry Regulations:

Guidelines for initiating or modifying ministry regulations and procedures:

Documents can be prepared that describe the strategy, and are designed to assist committees and others working towards preparing policy papers, written regulations and rules, guidelines, and changes in legislation.

NGO Guidelines:

Guidelines to and for NGOs active in the community related sectors:

Depending upon the legal status and acceptability of NGOs (international and local), support can be given for NGOs, leading to consistency and integration with each other and with governmental efforts. Support can include financial and technical assistance for meetings, workshops working committees, and document (eg guidelines) preparation, printing, and distribution.

Awareness Raising Events:

The more the public is informed about the goals and methods of this strategy, the more the environment will be conducive to social change in the desired direction. These events can include conferences, workshops, competitions, awards, plays, skits, music, campaigns.

Public Information Actions:

These include posters, radio, TV and newspaper advertisements and magazine articles. Journalists can be given gratuities or honoraria to research and write special articles that illustrate the empowerment process and the poverty reduction methods used.

Central Government and Enablement:

Democratization, political and administrative decentralization, devolution of financial authority, centralizing of developmental ministries, modifications of laws, regulations and practices to encourage and support community strengthening and self reliance. Guidelines for writing policy papers and related instruments (facilitating community strengthening) for promulgation by parliament:

The assistance in expertise should include written guidelines for preparing policy papers, and those guidelines will encourage a participatory and consultative process, involving stake holders, promoting an enabling environment for community strengthening, as well as professional advice in the production of policy papers and related instruments.

Decentralization Advice:

Analysing and advising on appropriate requirements for decentralizing authority and finance for the support of community management: Consultants with technical expertise to analyse and advise on the decision making and financial implications of decentralization.

Assisting in the Reform of Land Laws:

Land laws that affect community empowerment process include those relating to land, land tenure, land practices. See the "Community Perspective in Land Management." 

They should become laws that will facilitate the increase in community management of facilities and services, ensure human rights with respect to gender and minorities, and improve the enforcement of fair laws related to land ownership and access:

Devolution Assistance:

Assisting in the process of ministries focusing more on policy, standards, procedures and guidelines, while implementation, operational staffing, planning, decision making and management are devolved to the districts:

The process of decentralization does not eliminate all functions of central ministries; there role becomes one of guidance, policy formation, and professional backstopping, while the operational functions are devolved to the districts. This requires assistance in training and expertise for the districts, and assistance to the central ministry in changing its role. The strategy calls for assistance to those ministries which are involved in the community strengthening process (eg a department of community development).

Legitimizing CBOs:

Assisting in defining and attainment of legal status and authority of community-based organizations:

Assistance is included in the content of the expertise noted above, and in financing meetings, workshops, advocacy and guidance in legitimizing and legalizing both the community strengthening process and the resulting community organizations that are formed and empowered.

Municipal–Community Information Flow:

Establishing legal and procedural mechanisms for the flows of information from neighbourhoods to municipality, and from community organizations to local authority:

The information management requirements explained above need a legal and procedural environment to be effectively operational.


Advocacy for raising awareness and public concern about these policy and legal issues:

All the public information activities noted above, and the content of the training and sensitization sessions, are aimed at improving the acceptance of the needed changes in laws, regulations, procedures and attitudes which form the environment of the communities and the strengthening process.

Developing Curricula:

Assisting public institutions, including universities and training institutes, in rewriting and modifying curricula so as to incorporate participatory methods and the above issues:

Professionals in the relevant ministries and in NGOs implementing community strengthening and poverty reduction initiatives need advanced training and education in the sector.

Meanwhile the academic professionals can constitute a pool of expertise to be drawn upon by the strategy. Training institute and university curricula, which need upgrading from time to time, can be assisted to include variations of this strategy and methodology.

The advocacy and assistance to a central government is mainly intended to lead to changes in laws, regulations and procedures, supporting the establishment and growth of an enabling environment.

Roles of District and Local Governments:

Advocacy for participatory planning and management at district and local levels:

As part of this enabling environment, capacity of district administrations and governments must be concurrently strengthened. District authorities should be introduced to participatory planning and management and to skills in dialogue and facilitation for interacting with the communities.

Training in Skills of Participatory Planning and Management:

The strategy includes training in necessary participatory skills, to support the advocacy and encouragement of the enabling environment.

Local Legislation:

Guidelines for developing local and district legislation, regulations and procedures:

Where a district council or legislation has the authority to make laws or regulations, the strategy calls for assistance to do so, modelled after the assistance at the central governmental level. Meanwhile, the district administration can be provided with similar assistance in modifying its administrative regulations, procedures and attitudes.


Contexts for networking and sharing experiences with other districts and countries:

As part of the information sharing, advocacy, encouragement, and skill transfer, the strategy calls for support of networking mechanisms such as conferences, workshops, seminars and meetings with other district authorities (and community members), in the country and outside it.

Three main types of persons who have influence over the communities are:

  • the district civil servants;
  • the district leaders and politicians, and
  • the technical specialists.

These are targets in encouraging and training in participatory methods.

The nature of their changing from "provider" to "enabler" (facilitator) varies according to the source of their power. Part of the task of the mobilizer and management trainer is to determine ways to effect those changes based on observation and analysis of the situation.

The Non-Governmental Environment:

NGOs have potential as a great force for participatory development. They need some guidance and co-ordination to ensure consistency and sustainability.

International NGOs can be classed into two types:

  • relief, charity or emergency response, and
  • developmental.

Both have their role. The first type can be encouraged to add the second element.

Many large international NGOs have both approaches.

  • Have, as their major contribution, resources (mainly financial, technical skills and expertise);
  • Often include participatory methods as part of their policy from home base; and
  • Are usually willing to cooperate with a hospitable government, especially in implementing the principles and methods included in this strategy.

The second type can be guided and co-ordinated as part of a national strategy, and within district plans.

Local and National NGOs:

Contribute to the democratic civil engagement process, especially in advocacy and human rights. Usually are financially much weaker than the international NGOs, but can be supported by some international NGOs, the UN and bilateral donors;

They come in mainly two varieties:

  • CBOs, small voluntary organizations and self help groups; and
  • Private entrepreneurships for making income, in the disguise of voluntary agencies.

Both have their role in the strategy, the first often being our target for empowering low income communities, the second one often acting as small consultancies.

NGO and CBO Fora:

Fora for participatory creation and revision of guidelines for NGO and CBO operations:

Workshops and seminars for producing guidelines and revisions that support the community strengthening process and poverty eradication. Brokering relationships between ministry officials (responsible for producing guidelines), and the NGOs (responsible for following the guidelines).

NGO–Government Fora:

Fora for networking and dialogue between NGOs, CBOs, and central and local governments:

The strategy seeks to strengthen dialogue between NGOs, CBOs, and the central and district officials, to exchange information, techniques and experiences of community strengthening.

Agreements on Methods:

Agreements on methods of empowerment and poverty eradication that are sustainable and consistent:

Produced by the above two fora, these are documents that include declarations, agreements, guidelines and methods that produce an enabling environment, and encourage self help community management and wealth creation.

The information shared will contribute to a consistent national policy and process (of course flexible enough to vary according to different situations and related interventions).

Local–International Assistance Agreements:

Agreements of financial and expert assistance between international and local NGOs:

Also produced by the above fora, and with information brokerage between local NGOs and their potential donors, these agreements are aimed at ensuring some national consistency, and the methods indicated in Part A and Part B of this strategy.

Encouraging Participatory Methods:

Assistance in encouraging and training in community empowerment and poverty elimination through participatory methods:

The strategy supports both international and local NGOs, eg financial support and training sessions that will encourage consistency, sustainability and co-ordination between the NGOs, and the central and district governments involved in poverty eradication and community strengthening.

The strategy aims at an environment that brings NGOs and CBOs into partnership with all levels of government, communities and the private sector.


The CMP strategy has three related and integrated parts, all aimed an empowering low income communities to make decisions and undertake actions towards their own, self determined development. The first is directed at the community itself, and involves raising awareness in the community, then organizing and mobilizing the community to engage in self help activities determined by the community as its own highest priorities.

The second takes orthodox community development a step further and offers management training. This training goes beyond the transfer of skills, and is used as a mechanism for institutional restructuring by organizing the community. The third looks at the political and administrative environment in which the community finds itself, and assists the central and local governments and authorities, and the non governmental agencies, to enable greater self reliance and participation in the communities.

The training material in these web pages are all aimed at stake holders in the process generated by this strategy.


© Copyright 1967, 1987, 2007 Phil Bartle
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Last update: 2011.02.16

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