Community participation

The affected community needs to be actively involved in all aspects of programming. Their participation is essential in assessing, planning, implementing, and evaluating all of the programmes. Whenever possible, existing structures and programmes in the affected community should be used and strengthened. Because the psychological and social impact of emergencies may be long-lasting, it is important that the affected community is able to sustain the programmes over time.   community participation

The involvement of the local community may vary. In violent, dangerous, or emergency situations, the external organisations may initially need to take a more active role. Nevertheless, the capacity of the affected community should never be minimised or overlooked. The role of external organisations is to advise and support the local community.

When mobilising the community, it is critical to understand their political, social, and cultural issues. 

  • What is the structure of power in the community, and how are decisions made? Identify the leaders in the community and enlist their interest, support, and participation. 
  • How is the affected community perceived by those outside of that community? How are they viewed by government officials at a higher level?  Engage active participation of all community representatives, including those who are often overlooked.  
  • What are the traditional roles and relationships between males and females? Are women valued and respected? What are the economic conditions? Do women and men have self-sustaining economies or are they dependent upon others? Explore factors such as unemployment, inflation, and income levels.

How to build trust

Building trust is an important prerequisite for community mobilisation. Relief workers must take the time to develop a level of trust with the affected community by being supportive, non-directive, and by focusing on the community's goals. Following an emergency, the affected community will feel very vulnerable. The responding organisations need to create an environment of trust that also promotes the participation of the affected community. Building trust can be integrated into daily activities.

  • keeping your word;
  • being on time;
  • asking for opinions and input;
  • being transparent in decision making and be willing to share details about the process;
  • being accountable and open about finances by sharing income, costs, limitations, & donations;
  • always kepepingyour promises;
  • setting guidelines about who gets assistance, making them public and sticking to them.

 

Raising awareness and soliciting input

The participation of the affected community is also dependent on whether or not they are aware of all the issues.  If they are aware and concerned, their participation is more likely.  In situations where there is little awareness, it will be necessary to meet with individuals and raise their awareness.  Utilising existing agencies and organisations is one way to reach out to individuals.  It may also be necessary to visit villages.  Whenever local individuals can be placed in outreach roles, it is important to do so.  Along with increasing awareness, it is important to get input.  The affected community should have the opportunity to be heard.
 
  • Work in small teams that include responders and members of the local community;
  • Meet daily to  plan, coordinate, and share information;
  • Define teams by tasks (logistics, communication, finance, project manager, supply manager, tool manager, people coordinator, kitchen, psychosocial, pastoral care).