for a Community Management Training Curriculum
by Phil Bartle, PhD
The training curriculum framework proposed here is aimed at poverty reduction, by the strengthening of low income communities in the planning and management of human settlements communal facilities and services, their construction, operation and maintenance.
These materials could be produced at a regional or sub regional level, culturally appropriate to each region. Then, in each country and in each operational district within a country, these materials should then be translated into the common vernacular languages, and modified to reflect local cultural variations.
Purpose of Community Management Training:
It can not be emphasized too much that training, as a method for strengthening low income communities, for poverty reduction, for promoting community participation, for practical support to democratization and decentralization, ie, for mobilizing, is far from being only the transfer of information and skills to the trainees.
This is non orthodox training. Formalization and institutionalization of this kind of training brings with it the danger of emasculating the training, of emphasising the skill transfer over the encouragement, mobilization and organizing aspects of the training.
Management training in this sense was developed for strengthening the effectiveness of top and middle management in profit making corporations.
It has been modified here, and integrated with techniques of trade union organizing, for the purposes of mobilizing and strengthening the capacity of low income communities to come together and help themselves, and engage in developmental social change.
Each Package Should Contain the Following:
A "package" is a set of training aids, for the trainers and the participants, aimed at getting the material across.
The Training Topics:
While any final curriculum should have topics chosen according to the conditions and needs of the area, the following list of topics is suggested as a core set:
The following sections sketch what the content of each of these topics might include.
Training for Community Strengthening:
For Facilitators and Trainers Contradicting assumptions. The purpose of training is not only passing on information and transferring skills to individuals.
Training is a mobilization tool, to instil confidence and enthusiasm, for awareness raising (that community members need not apathetically accept whatever fate brings it), to organize or reorganize a community into its own CBO, for making community members more aware of their own situation, of their communal desires, of their assets and potential resources, and able to make their own realistic assessments of limits and constraints.
Skills of training for improving effective organization. Techniques of encouragement and of instilling confidence, enthusiasm, and attitudes aimed at communities beginning to work for their own future. The importance of gender sensitive training methods and goals. The importance of environmentally appropriate community actions. Appropriate technology. Motivation. Facilitation rather than presentation.
How to modify training manuals and methods for different participants (officials, leaders, urban slum dwellers, technical experts, rural residents, literates, illiterates, men, women, disabled, abled, educated, employed, unemployed, self employed, young elderly, different religions, different ethnic groups, different ideologies). The use of stories, poems, dances, music, plays, role playing, puppets and alternative communication methods. Stories to encourage people to help themselves, to plan, to be positive.
See: Handbook for Mobilizers. Principles and methods for strengthening a community.
For Leaders, Technocrats and Officials. Characteristics of the "Provision" approach: as a manifestation of elitism and arrogance; as a cheap method of obtaining votes, career advances and professional recognition; as an activity that promotes community dependency and thus the continuation of poverty and apathy. Why leaders, officials and technocrats may feel threatened by the empowerment and enlightenment of communities.
How an enabling approach can enhance political careers of leaders, can assist in the professional careers of technical experts, and can promote the careers of officials. Techniques of social animation for leaders, technical experts and officials.
See: Preparing a Community Development Policy Paper. Guidelines
Mobilizing Community Groups:
For Animators and Community Workers. Techniques of social animation.
How to organize a community to engage in its own development. Calling community meetings. The involvement of all, not just some, community members. The importance of gender. Vulnerable groups. Principles (eg "People are more likely to help those who are already helping themselves"). The role of sharing food.
Stories and anecdotes for mobilizing groups. Alternate methods of community communication. The problem of community schisms and factions. What is "Unity Organizing," and how to do it? Raising awareness but not expectations. No promises. Communicating and sharing experiences with other mobilizers and animators.
See: Unity Organizing. Explaining that community decisions need a unified community
Organizing a CBO:
For Community Workers. What to do after the whole community meets.
Ensuring that the CBO executive is the genuine choice of all the community. The CBO executives as trusted servants of the community; not as leaders or opinion makers. Organizing the executive to do a job: effectiveness not status. The importance of accountability and transparency.
See: Organizing by Training. Organizing for decision making or for action.
Assessing Community Resources:
For CBOs. Realistic assessment must precede planning.
What resources are in the community? Where are they? How can they be used (mobilized)? What hindrances and constraints exist? What are the community's greatest needs? Map making for community decisions. Putting monetary values onto donated labour (non skilled, skilled, and management efforts).
Deciding Community Priorities:
For CBOs and mobilizers that are organizing CBOs.
What to do when some people want one thing and others want another thing? Whose choice is it? "Unity organizing" revisited. Community needs versus community desires; whose choice anyway? Brainstorming techniques for mobilizing groups.
See: Brainstorming Technique. To obtain a creative set of decisions from a group.
Planning a Community Project:
For CBOs. How to design and plan a community project.
Brainstorming, again, for group decision making. Elements of a logical project design (the problem, the goal, the objectives, the resources, the constraints, the possible strategies, the chosen strategy, the people's contribution, the materials needed, the land, the equipment needed, transport needed, the work plan, the costs, who does what and when, supplementary material for appendices).
See: Project Design. How to design a community project.
How to Write Effective Proposals:
For CBOs, NGOs and Local Authorities. Effective, not pretty, proposals.
What effect is desired? Incorporating the project design into an effective proposal. Proposal chapters. Proposals as a fund-raising technique. The importance of having many donors and sources. Also useful for district council leaders and administrators, in order to assess proposals from CBOs.
For CBOs and NGOs. How to obtain funds and other resources.
The community itself as the most important donor source. The most important two words: "Thank you." Keeping the donors informed of progress. Avoiding discouragement (not all who are asked are potential donors). Encouragement (the importance of the fund raiser). The importance of reputation (honesty, transparency, ethics, appropriate goals, effectiveness). Some tips on fund raising. Different approaches for different sources. Various techniques.
See: Resource Acquisition. Methods for a community organization to obtain resources for projects.
District Planning and Community Participation:
For Leaders and Officials. Management training for district leaders and officials.
The importance of planning ("If you fail to plan then you plan to fail" "If you do not know where you are going, then any road will do"). The "Reverse" method of planning: start with the end (your desired goal) and end with the start (what to do now and at each successive phase). The importance of involving community plans and community projects in district plans. The enablement method, and how it can fit into district planning and management. Providing a proactive leadership and co-ordination for both international and national NGOs working in the area. Communication to and from CBOs. Techniques of participatory decision making.
See: Guidelines for Preparing a Work Plan. For writing 3 or 6 month work plans.
The Community Management of People:
For All Actors and Stake Holders.
While management means the putting of the right resources in the right place at the right time; people are more than resources and inputs. They are also the end to which we serve in community strengthening.
Special characteristics of people as community resources. The management of paid and unpaid labour. Communal labour and community loyalty. Recognition and appreciation: the importance of community recognition of donations, especially donations of voluntary communal labour.
Sensitivity to other obligations: work, family, home, funerals, celebrations, rituals and ceremonies.
For Officials and CBO Executives.
Proposal writing and other forms of fund raising may help to construct a community facility, but what about operating costs and covering costs and maintenance and repairs? Flat fees. User fees. Resident fees. Ceding national and district funds to communities for facility maintenance.
See: Resource Acquisition. Methods for a community organization to obtain resources for projects.
For Officials and CBO Executives. The decentralization of revenue collection and disbursal.
Legal implications. The importance of lobbying at the national and political level. How community based development can contribute to national decisions to decentralize revenue disbursement. Measuring the seriousness of a Government by its regulations and practices of disbursing funds to districts and communities.
Community Based Monitoring:
For CBOs and Animators. If you are going to stay on track, you have to see where you are going. The difference between monitoring and assessment.
Progress does not mean what activities; it means how closer are we to the planned objectives. Why objectives must be measurable and verifiable, not just general ideals or goals. Remember that the community is the most important donor to a community project, and must be the focus of monitoring.
See: Monitoring. Principles and methods for the field worker.
For CBO Executives and Mobilizers. A good progress report is the most effective form of "Thank you."
Reporting on progress, not only on activities (progress means the degree to which objectives have been reached). Write a report for the reader; the donors are the desired readers, and the community is the most important donor. A report as a mechanism of transparency. The importance of frequent reports, and circulating reports to all who have a right to know what is being done on a community project.
Other Training Material:
The above list is not definitive nor final. It is based on the needs as identified in Uganda for the CMP programme.
If a training material component is to be developed for a regional programme of support to country programmes, then these topics should be developed and modified (and others added if needed) after and during dialogue with country programmes, mobilizers, local leaders and officials, and community members.
See: Training For Strength. A Community Management Training Methodology
Conclusion; The Need for Process:
Not only is the above list of description incomplete, it would be a mistake to aim for a complete list. Strengthening a community, by increasing its capacity for self management, is a process, not a finite conversion.
Communities are each at different levels of strength and democratic participation, come from different cultural, historical and social origins, have different levels and types of economies, and their needs. Techniques of interventions differ.
For a strengthening process to be effective and appropriate, it must be one that is sensitive to different and changing needs, and flexible enough to adapt to variations.
Democratic strengthening requires a context and a process: a context for enablement and facilitation (that the people do it themselves and make their own communal decisions), and a process of social change.
There is no once and for all solution (what may be a solution here and now may soon become another problem then and there).
© Copyright 1967, 1987, 2007 Phil Bartle