'العربية / al-ʿarabīyah
COMMUNITY CHOOSES ITS ACTION
Choice is the Doorway to Empowerment
by Phil Bartle, PhD
A community has the right (and responsibility) to determine its own future
The focus of your public dialogue and awareness raising will be the community choice of action to take.
It is very important to your success that the final decision is that of the whole community, not merely the desire of one or two factions within the community.
There will be a great eagerness, and pressure, to complete the action, be it construction of a latrine, clinic or water supply, new legislation protecting tenants rights, or some social work service.
Do not be diverted by the eagerness and pressure.
The community has its goal (eg latrine) while you have your goal (community empowerment). They are not the same.
You assist and guide the community in obtaining its objectives, the right way, however long it takes.
Politicians, journalists, and administrators will try to judge you by the community goals (eg building the latrine). Do not be deceived by that.
The latrine construction is your "means" not your goal.
If it is constructed without empowering the community, without increased gender balance, without increased transparency, without increased self reliance, then you have failed to reach your objective.
It is relatively more easy to pump resources into a community (eg money, pipes, roofing materials) to build the physical structure, but it is not likely to be sustainable; the community members will not feel they own it, and not feel responsible for maintaining it.
You may reach the short term objective of the politician or journalist to provide a latrine for the community, but you will fail to reach your own long term mobilizer's goal of strengthening that community.
If it is not done correctly, it is not worth doing at all.
The next module shows you your role in that.
© Copyright 1967, 1987, 2007 Phil Bartle