Home Page


Ελληνικά / Elliniká
हिन्दी / hindī


Other Pages:


Site Map

Key Words


Utility Documents

Useful Links











By Phil Bartle, PhD

From the Community Management Strategy

Much of this document is presented in bullet form so as to make a concise sketch. See The Strategy Explicated for details on each topic


The CMP strategy consists of three parts, like a pincer movement in a military campaign, which complement each other. These three parts are (1) Promoting community participation (including the mobilization cycle), (2) Community Management (including management training for institutional restructuring), and (3) Promoting an enabling environment (including governmental and non-governmental conditions that surround and influence communities).

The strategy sketch described here begins with a description of elements that are general, and go beyond those three parts. They include the factors which would require variations in the strategy as a whole. It goes on to describe the special nature of training in the strategy (affecting all three parts).

An important overall factor is gender (raising awareness and improving balance), which is integrated with all three parts. It then goes on to list the elements of each of the three sections. It is deliberately kept short and sketchy to enable you to get a whole picture of the strategy as a single package. Accompanying this is a more detailed description, "The Strategy Explicated."

Variations in the Strategy:

The strategy varied from situation to situation in response to the various factors that affect community strengthening and poverty eradication. These factors include the following:

  • The degree and nature of enablement in the environment;
  • The current level and varieties of community participation;
  • The level of urbanization, ethnic heterogeneity, and urban facilities;
  • The levels of consensus and unity within each community;
  • The core features of the technology and economy
    (eg fishing, farming, herding, hunting, industrial, commercial);
  • The level and nature of management skills and organization; and
  • The nature, status and influence of NGOs.


An important feature of the strategy that cross cut all training (the central input from CMP), was that it was non-formal, unorthodox, and demand-driven. It emphasized on-the-job, context-oriented, non-classroom, and non-lecture facilitative and participatory learning.

It includes the orthodox purposes of training (eg skill transfer, encouragement, information imparting, and awareness raising) aimed at individual participants, and an additional, unorthodox purpose: organizing or re-organizing the group, then mobilizing into action, for enhancing its capacity and effectiveness.

Gender Balance:

In all three of the major elements, and at all levels of implementation, the strategy pro- actively promoted gender balance. This was based upon several principles. The first was justified in the human rights of persons to participate regardless of gender (and other characteristics).

Political and economic concerns also apply; the economy will not function optimally if fifty percent of the population is systematically excluded, and good governance is hampered by a similar exclusion.

The following three parts: A, B, and C, briefly identify the three major components of the overall strategy.

Part A: Community Participation:

The strategy was based on the precept that the participation of all members of a target community is essential to both poverty reduction and community strengthening. While there are several interpretations of "participation," here in CDP it specifically means full community (not only some factions of a community) participation in decision making: assessing situation (needs and potentials), determining priority problems and goals, planning actions, implementing and monitoring them, and evaluating their results.

This means that the community as a whole takes responsibility for its development (not leaving that to an outside party).

While contribution of resources (eg donations, communal labour, supplies) may be part of that participation, and while dialogue and consultation with external agencies is encouraged, we emphasize that "participation" is much more comprehensive and inclusive than either "contribution" or "consultation."

Community Participation Promotion:

The stimulation and encouragement of a community to participate in its own developmental decision making, is a process composed of a repeated cycle. It is often called the mobilization cycle, the problem solving cycle, or the community development cycle.

The following list indicates the main steps in the cycle:

  1. Sensitizing authorities and getting permissions;
  2. Raising awareness among community members;
  3. Situation analysis and participatory assessment; *
  4. Unity organizing; consensus building; *
  5. Defining priorities; problems and goals; *
  6. Making a community action plan; *
  7. Organizing a CIC, executive committee; *
  8. Implementation and monitoring; *
  9. Assessment and evaluation (impact); * and
  10. Repeating

[* also part of the management training described below.]

The above is not an eclectic list of activities. Each step 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.

Social Change Towards Strengthened Communities:

As well as the intervention cycle described above, several other elements of the strategy are aimed at community empowerment and poverty reduction, but may be initiated at various times according to changing situations.

These include:

  1. Assessment and analysis of existing local organizations;
  2. Enhancing local organizations;
  3. Fostering relationships between various organizations;
  4. Income and employment generation;
  5. Settlement shelter and infrastructure upgrading;
  6. Environmental activities; and
  7. Participatory disaster mitigation and management.

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

Part B: Community Management:

Based upon orthodox community participation promotion and community development interventions, the strategy takes these further with the introduction of "community management."

While the main feature of this is training, the training goes beyond the orthodox purpose of training, ie the transfer of skills to the trainees. Management training also includes awareness raising, information transfer, and encouragement.

Most importantly, it includes organisational 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 (or re-organizing) is a product of the management training itself (similar to trade union organizing), and 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 must be integrated with community participation promotion and the mobilization cycle. The training is designed for organizing plus skill transferring.

It includes the following elements:

  1. Organizing the community and its executive for taking decisions;
  2. Management training: the four questions;
  3. Project design;
  4. Organization for action;
  5. Skill training (eg in management, finance, technical skills);
  6. Monitoring and reporting:
  7. Management information and information management
  8. Gender balance training
  9. Conflict resolution and team building;
  10. Networking, making linkages (vertical and horizontal);
  11. Developing partnerships between public and private sector, NGOs, CBOs and communities;
  12. Resource acquisition, fund raising; and
  13. Leadership training; team building.

While the above management training elements are aimed mainly at community empowerment and poverty reduction at the community or social level, further elements are aimed at private, individual entrepreneurial poverty reduction through micro enterprise formation and strengthening.

These include:

  • Support for micro and small scale enterprise, encouraging the formation of new enterprises and enhancing existing ones;
  • Promoting thrift, credit rotation and credit union formation and strengthening, particularly for women's groups;
  • Construction and development of shelter and community infrastructure, training, upgrading and supplementing private contractors, especially women and vulnerable groups;
  • Technical and vocational upgrading (see the notes on training in the introduction); and
  • Developing and enhancing groups (eg based upon traditional credit rotation) for training in skills for obtaining credit, managing credit, savings, and management and financial training to start and run viable profitable enterprises.

Unlike the mobilization cycle described earlier, not all of the elements in these two lists need be initiated in relation to the previous or following elements. The order listed is only approximately in an order of action, and should be varied according to ongoing assessments of strengths, weaknesses, and needs.

Management Training Instruments:

The target groups for the management training listed above include several community groups and categories of persons. The strategy includes the development, localising, and replicating several tools appropriate to the different targets.

These include:

  1. Awareness raising and information sharing seminars and conferences;
  2. Skill transfer training workshops;
  3. Organizational (and re-organizing) training meetings and sessions;
  4. Fora (forums) for networking, inter-district, intra-national and inter-national;
  5. Public information through the media (radio, tv, newspapers);
  6. Creation and development of training, strategy and planning guidelines;
  7. Development of general and local training material (manuals, handouts, overhead transparencies);
  8. Translation and printing of training material in local languages;
  9. Posters, signs, reproducible graffiti; and
  10. Campaigns, competitions, public events.

These instruments are designed in view of the special nature of community management training, that it is for more than skill training, information sharing, awareness raising and encouragement. It (MT = management training) is also used in this strategy as a means of organizing, re-organizing, or enhancing and improving new or existing structures.

Part C: Enabling Environment:

The strengthening of communities and poverty eradication does not take place in a vacuum. The environment around each community, not only its ecological environment but also its socio-economic-politico environment, affects its level of community empowerment, and also the strategies for reaching that empowerment.

In view of this, the community management strategy has a third major element, of working towards an environment that enables self help improvement, actions towards self reliance, community empowerment, and the eradication of poverty from a community approach.

The elements of supporting an enabling government include the following:

  • Guidelines for initiating and modifying legislative policy;
  • Support to legislative committees responsible for legislative reform (in this sector);
  • Guidelines for modifying Ministry regulations and procedures;
  • Guidelines to and for NGOs active in the community related sectors;
  • Awareness raising events (conferences, workshops, competitions, plays, skits, music); and
  • Public information actions (posters, radio, TV and newspaper advertisements).

The following subsections of a strategy for improving the environment to enable community strengthening and poverty reduction are grouped into three: (1) central government, (2) various levels of local and district governments, and (3) the non-governmental environment.

Central Government and Enablement:

The strategy of enablement emphasizes assistance in reform and improvement. Where a Government is highly centralised, for example, and has the will to decentralise, assistance is directed towards initiating decentralisation.

If the Government has already embarked on decentralisation, then the assistance is more pragmatic and country specific. This applies then to democratisation, to devolution of financial authority, to decentralising of developmental ministries, and other relevant reforms, streamlining and making appropriate modifications of central government.

The following elements and instruments are included in the strategy:

  • Guidelines for writing policy papers and related instruments (facilitating community strengthening) for promulgation by parliament;
  • Analysing and advising on appropriate requirements for decentralising authority and finance for the support of community management;
  • Assisting in the reform of laws relating to land, land tenure, land practices, 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;
  • Assisting in the process of ministries focussing on policy, standards, procedures and guidelines, while implementation, operational staffing, planning, decision making and management are devolved to the districts;
  • Assisting in defining and attainment of legal status and authority of community-based organizations;
  • Establishing legal and procedural mechanisms for the flows of information from neighbourhoods to municipality, and from community organizations to local authority;
  • Advocacy for raising awareness and public concern about these policy and legal issues;
  • Assisting public institutions, including universities and training institutes, to rewrite and modify curricula so as to incorporate participatory methods and the above issues;

The advocacy and assistance to a central government, leading to changes in laws, regulations and procedures, is only part of the strategy for promoting a conducive environment for community empowerment and poverty eradication.

It must be accompanied by complementary assistance to district and local authorities which are closer to the target communities, and to non governmental organizations, both of which also form part of the socio-economic-politico environment of the target communities.

Roles of District and Local Governments:

When central government devolves authority, decision making and financial control to the districts, the capacity of those district administrations and governments must be concurrently strengthened. If there is to be decentralisation, it should not be the decentralising of tyranny.

As well as obtaining increased skills (and skilled human resources) the district authorities should be introduced to participatory planning and management, to skills in dialogue and facilitation with the communities, and to other elements contributing to an enabling environment.

The strategy includes:

  • Advocacy for participatory planning and management at district and local levels;
  • Training in skills of participatory planning and management;
  • Guidelines for developing local legislation, regulations and procedures;
  • Contexts for networking and sharing experiences with other districts and countries.

At the district (or equivalent) level, there are three main types of persons who have influence over the communities and are targets in encouraging and training in participatory methods: (1) the district civil servants, (2) the district leaders and politicians, and (3) the technical specialists (often called "technocrats" because the source of their authority and influence lies in their technical expertise).

The nature of their changing from "provider" to "enabler" (facilitator) varies according to the source of their power.

The Non-Governmental Environment:

While NGOs themselves must operate in a context mainly designed by the government, they may also be a part of the overall environment of communities, depending upon the legislation and practices that allow them to operate. If they can operate in an atmosphere of benevolent tolerance, they have potential as a great force for participatory development.

They do need some guidance, however, if they are not to operate at cross purposes and hinder an integrated approach to development in the country. International NGOs have, as their major contribution, resources (mainly financial and skills), while local and national NGOs contribute to the democratic civil engagement process, especially in advocacy and human rights.

The strategy includes:

  • Fora for participatory creation and revision of guidelines for NGO and CBO operations;
  • Fora for networking and dialogue between NGOs, CBOs, and central and local governments;
  • Agreements on methods of empowerment and poverty eradication that are sustainable and consistent;
  • Agreements of financial and expert assistance between international and local NGOs; and
  • Assistance in encouraging and training in community empowerment and poverty elimination through participatory methods.

The overall objective is an environment that will bring NGOs into a form of partnership with all levels of government, communities and the private sector, emphasising their different strengths while contributing to a sustainable social development of low-income community empowerment and poverty elimination.


The CMP strategy for strengthening low income communities and poverty eradication had three main parts: community empowerment, management training and an enabling environment. They are implemented as a package, integrated with each other, and flexible to vary according to situations.


Management Training Workshop:

Management Training Workshop

© Copyright 1967, 1987, 2007 Phil Bartle
Web Design by Lourdes Sada
Last update: 2011.03.17

 Home page

 CMP Strategy