In this module we are going to:
Define a set of conditions that will make the community development approach suitable. Be introduced to the Grameen Bank story, the benchmark for community development projects worldwide.
Community Facilitation Programme Community Development Module 4: When is the Community Development Approach most applicable? Case Study: Grameen Bank 1. Introduction What we have learned in the previous module: Community development is a process of skilled intervention, that purposefully brings about change in different community spheres. We have also looked at the impor- tance of worldview and how that shapes our interaction with other people and the community and world we live in. We have also taken note of the role the UNDP is playing in creating an awareness for integrating environmental management in pov- erty reduction efforts. Aim of this module: In this module we are going to: Define a set of conditions that will make the community development ap- proach suitable. Be introduced to the Grameen Bank story, the benchmark for community de- velopment projects worldwide. 2. “Favourable” Conditions for Intervention. Communities which are characterised by much dissatisfaction and that have a very negative public perception or reputation, are usually the communities that are most in need of community development. The following conditions will identify a commu- nity as a good candidate for intervention. Communities that are poorly organised. Community structures and networks (social capital) are non-existent. They are dominated by external influences and lack the willpower and ability to determine their own destiny. External influences are often politically inspired and not serving the interests of the community. Conflict exists. There is lack of constructive cooperation between community members and community leaders. The community lacks problem-solving skills. There is a lack of self motivation and drive to positively influence their future. There is lack of vision. A strong sense of hopelessness prevails. The community is dependent on outside resources and help. The physical and economic infrastructure are inadequate or absent. Indecision is the order of the day. All communities require some sort of intervention, even well developed communi- ties. Don’t only look at communities with a long list of negative conditions. Discom- fort by far dominates any kind of personal conversation and it is relatively easy to pick up on the level and area of discomfort. 3. Variables that will ensure an impact. Intervention will have the biggest impact if the following set of conditions are pre- sent: The planned intervention takes place at grassroots level. The community is mobilised to identify and prioritise its own impediments. As many different community members as possible are involved in as many small tasks as possible. Task groups are instrumental in changing negative feelings, perceptions and fears. Negative external influences can be minimised. A key indicator of the success of the intervention will be the willingness of commu- nity members to take responsibility for their own and their own community’s devel- opment and destiny, and not to wait for others to come and do it for them. This sel- dom happens. One of the laws of physics, namely that for every action there is a reaction, applies also to human behaviour. Overwhelming social problems in communities often discourage change agents from taking initiatives but communities with lesser social problems very seldom originated that way. Start today and things will be better tomorrow. 4. Case Study: The Grameen Bank Project 4.1 Background and History. The Grameen Bank project is often the benchmark in terms of how other projects are weighed. This might be a bit unfair due to the unique variables in every project. Nevertheless a lot can be gained from studying the variables that played a role in the success of the project. There are many other success stories but few match the duration and extent of Grameen Bank. The project was founded by Professor Mohammad Yunus from the University of Chittagong, Bangladesh in 1976. He is a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize recognising his efforts. He is also known as “Banker to the Poor”. Grameen means “rural” or “village” in Bangla language. The objectives of the project was to extended banking facilities to the poor thereby giving them easy access to credit, one of the biggest problems in poor communities and countries. Through the provision of credit, community members, almost all of them women, were protected from exploitation by money lenders, another problem in poor countries. Providing them with credit created opportunities for self employment for poor women. It provided access for them to an organizational structure they could un- derstand, trust and manage themselves. This reversed the vicious circle of ‘low in- come, low saving and low investment into a virtuous circle of low income, injection of credit, investment, more income, more savings, more investment and more in- come. The project was initiated in 1976 and subsequently expanded to several other districts in Bangladesh. Due to its success it was transformed into an inde- pendent bank through proper legislation. This all happened in 19
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