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Sustaining by Auto Mobilization

by Phil Bartle, PhD

Training Handout

Your intervention as a mobilizer was as an external factor; for development to be sustained, the community itself must supply continued intervention

The key to sustaining the intervention of stimulating the community towards increased self reliance, is in the community. Your agency may be willing and able to replace you, but your ultimate goal is to have the community continue mobilizing on its own.

The way you do this is to identify persons living in the community who have the potentials to become mobilizers, and the appropriate attitudes and values, and train them in your skills, train them to take over from you.

You want to work yourself out of a job.

Community development is a process of social change. You do not develop a community; the community develops itself.

The most you can be is a catalyst and stimulant to that social process. Here a famous quotation from Mwalimu Julius Nyerere is appropriate, "People can not be developed; they can only develop themselves."

Remember also that the tools and skills you have can act as very powerful catalysts of social change. Like any tools, therefore, they can be misused. When you identify community members to train to replace you, it is vital that you examine their character to ensure that they will use mobilization tools to benefit the community, not to benefit themselves at the expense of the community.

Know that some people have political and career objectives. With good participatory and facilitating skills, a person can misuse mobilization for personal benefit. See again Know the Skills You Need and the "locksmith" analogy. When you identify potential mobilizers from within the community, carefully observe them over time. Do not be in a hurry to find your replacement; take enough time to do in right.

When you tell a group they should take time and do something right, you can tell this little story of two bulls from a cattle society in West Africa.

Two bulls were coming over a hill and saw over a hundred cows down in the valley before them. "Oh, uncle," said the young bull, "Let us run down there and do a few." "No," said the older bull, "Let us walk down there, and do them all."

Take enough time to find and train your replacement.

When you identify one or a few persons who appear to have potential to become mobilizers, having qualities of honesty, leadership, genuine concern for development of the people, you need to train them. If they are interested, you can set them up as something like "apprentices," taking time to explain to them why you do what you do.

Cover all the topics in the first few chapters of this hand book. Helping them learn the principles is as important as their learning the skills. Let them try to lead a facilitation session from time to time. More often as their skills grow. After they have gone through two or more mobilization cycles, they should be ready to carry on in your absence.

You are well on the way to make your mobilizing sustainable.


© Copyright 1967, 1987, 2007 Phil Bartle
Web Design by Lourdes Sada
Last update: 2011.09.25

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