Community Capacity Building

Enabling communities to become the architects and managers of their own development For many years, community development focused primarily on charity, transferring funds and technical expertise from the world’s more affluent communities to poorer ones. Although some success has been achieved in this manner, development has now moved beyond direct assistance and charity. The new model of partnership is a communitybased, people-centered approach that builds capacity within the community itself. Village residents are the leaders of their own development. By sharing experiences and enhancing skills, communities create long-term and sustainable improvements. There are tools that can help the community get organized for action. Community Capacity Building is a systematic process to get people involved, put everyone’s ideas on the table and come to consensus when there are differences of opinion. Participants create an action plan to mobilize their own resources and tap into outside assistance when necessary. The Unitarian Universalist Partner Church Council’s Community Capacity Building program, with a 30-year record of success, is used by thousands of government and non-government agencies throughout the world. In this method, community members participate in three days of Community Based Planning meetings to assess their needs and resources. In an open discussion, they use tools designed to organize and record information about the community and its needs. Participants create a Community Action Plan to address high priority projects they have identified. The key strength of Community Based Planning is that all residents are invited to participate, not just political or religious leaders (or just the men). Everyone has the opportunity to generate ideas and define the community’s future. The open process results in broader support and participation to make the plan work.