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by Phil Bartle, PhD

Discussion Handout

What does it take to strengthen a community (or organization), or to increase its capacity?

1. The balance of power (opinion makers and leaders, not merely the demographic majority) must desire the community to become more self reliant and willing to make efforts and sacrifices to become so. (Leaders and opinion makers may be formal and/or informal, officially recognised and/or unrecognized). Without this, the mobiliser would be wasting time and better employed in another community;

2. An experienced and/or trained agent must be available to intervene to stimulate and guide the community to organize and take action to overcome poverty and become more self reliant. The mobiliser may be one with natural talents and skills, while the training on this web site is aimed at developing and sharpening those skills and talents;

3. While assistance can be offered, it should not be charity assistance which promotes dependency and weakness, but partnership, assistance and training that promotes self reliance and increased capacity;

4. Recipient organisations or communities should not be controlled or forced into change, but professionals trained as activists or mobilisers should intervene with stimulation, information and guidance. Social engineering must be avoided. Persuasion and facilitation are needed;

5. Organisms become stronger by exercising, struggling, and facing adversity. Empowerment methodology incorporates this principle for social organisations. Sports coaches use the slogan, "No pain; no gain." We do not promote pain, but do promote struggle and effort;

6. Hands on participation, especially in decision making, by the recipients, is essential for their increase in capacity. Decisions can not be made for or on behalf of the community;

7. A substantial proportion (it varies) of the resources needed for a community project (ie the action) must be provided by the community members themselves;

8. We need to aim at the participants from the beginning taking full control, exercising full decision making, and accepting full responsibility for the actions which will lead to their increased strength.

See keywords: Empowerment methodology.


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