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What is Community Development?

Willem Oosthuizen
Friday, December 13th, 2019
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The United Nations defines community development as "a process where community members come together to take collective action and generate solutions to common problems."[i]

I think this definition of community development should include: collective innovative actions to utilize community assets.

Community Development is a Process

Community development never stops, it is a process of design, renewal and redesign. Community development involves influencing the relationships between communities and their leaders, so that everyone can contribute solutions to the issues that affect their lives. It starts from the principle that within any community there is a wealth of knowledge and experience. Knowledge and experience can be used in creative ways, and can be directed into collective action to achieve the communities' desired goals.

Community development practitioners work alongside communities to help build relationships and partnerships between key people and organizations and to identify common concerns. “They are facilitators, creating opportunities for the community to learn new skills and, by enabling people to act together, community development practitioners help to foster social inclusion and equality.”[ii]

Community Development is a Collective Action

The term, community development, implies the fact that a community is involved. The development of a community is unthinkable without involving the community. Yet, still after many years of countless hard lessons, some leaders do not include communities when plans and decisions are made about their living, working and educational environment. Community development is a collective action which only succeeds when the majority of the community takes ownership of a particular action.

Community Development means Action

Development means that there is a movement from an existing condition to a new condition. Movement means action. Community development can’t happen without the actions a community takes to change their condition. Participation in community development planning is essential in identifying the necessary actions that will affect change.

The Co-op Community Trust Facilitates Community Development

The Co-op is a leading agricultural business in Africa that ensures the profitability of our members and the development of our communities and environment on a sustainable basis.

The Humansdorp Co-op founded The Co-op Community Trust as a vehicle for its community investment strategy. We employ a sustainable system (the ABCD approach) to grow our communities. The ABCD approach stands for Asset Based Community Development and is a process that focuses on assets (rather than on needs), in order to help foster a positive mind set and help communities drive their own development process based on what they already have. This leads to exceptional levels of sustainability.

I will elaborate on the ABCD approach in a next article.


[i] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community_development#cite_note-unterm-1

[ii] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community_development#cite_note-4

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