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Sequential steps for empowering community organisations for local development (PLA 56)

Journal article
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In memory of Anil Shah, PLA presents his article ‘Sequential steps for empowering rural communities for local development’. When development professionals approach a community, they often have an agency mandate to introduce a particular development programme. In Anil’s experience, the tendency is to offer it to the community before they even have a chance to consider whether it is relevant or appropriate to them. Anil argues that true empowerment only comes when the community themselves has precedence over the decision-making process. Here, Anil shares his personal account of a facilitating approach, intended as a guide for development professionals. He takes the reader through a step-by-step sequence of activities. In this process, the facilitator works with the whole community to:

• identify what type of development the community might need;~• assess whether and how the development might be beneficial to them; and~• decide how they could plan, implement and, ultimately, sustain the development in the long-term.

Anil argues that only once the community has been through this process, should a development professional even propose that any programme of development is available. As he writes, real empowerment does not occur when there is the lure of subsidy to be had. It occurs when communities are able to plan what development is most appropriate – and of most benefit – to them.

Article in: Participatory Learning and Action 56. Co-editors: Holly Ashley, Angela Milligan and Nicole Kenton.

Participatory Learning and Action (PLA, formerly PLA Notes) is the world's leading series on participatory learning and action approaches and methods. PLA publishes articles on participation aimed at practitioners, researchers, academics and activists. All articles are peer-reviewed by an international editorial board.

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Participatory Learning and Action (PLA) 56
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