LINC has been working with the ANDA Program to support communities in southern Cordoba, Colombia to help them assess their strengths and weaknesses in taking complete ownership of the community development process. ANDA is a partnership between Global Communities and BHP Billiton Sustainable Communities that aims to help 43,000 vulnerable people over the course of 5 years. In this work, we have observed that six elements are crucial to communities leading their own development and participating in the decisions that affect their lives:
- A representative body / committee / council
- Community participation in activities and decisions
- Community development plans that span more than one year
- Resource mobilization
- Strategic communications
- Project cycle management
Community progress toward complete ownership of each of these elements can be measured against several values or principles to determine what the community is doing well / needs to maintain, and where the community (or the groups that are supporting the community) should invest further. These values include equitable inclusion, defined responsibilities, transparency, accountability, skills, safe “spaces” within which to act, and ultimately, community leadership of the process. To reinforce those values, it is important to allow the community itself to conduct the assessment – this may require outside facilitation for many communities, but the community’s strengths and needs can be accurately identified and effectively addressed only by the community itself.