James and Susan (2009, p. 67) have defined community development as a set of activities taken by a group of people within a given society to eradicate poverty, social injustices and such other undesirable factors within a given society. It is a set of principles, practices and values that are geared towards making the society a better place to live in.
For a long time, many countries have been looking for the government to undertake most of the development issues within the society. Even in countries that were practicing communism, the government was expected to direct most of the activities that were taking place within the society.
As Rhonda and Robert (2009, p. 90) note, Russia was the leading communist state. However, the projects that were meant to bring development to the country were fostered by the government. In capitalist countries like the United States, individuals had to depend on themselves for development, and the state, for such issues as infrastructural developments.
Community development begun in the United States of America in early 1960swhen some citizens noted some serious disparities within the society. There was a huge gap between the rich and the poor.
These specific individuals noted that although the government was doing much to ensure that every member of the society was uplifted both socially and economically, this effort was not translating to direct benefits for the lower members of the society.
Those who were benefiting from this program were the richer society members. There was therefore a need to devise other methods to ensure that all the society members were liberated from poverty and other social injustices.
Community development gained popularity very fast. People begun to realize that this was the best way through which the society would be developed was through an effort made from all the members of the society (Balshem 1993, p. 62).
Community development was viewed as the strategy through which the communities would be developed. From the United States, it spread to other countries like Canada and other developed nations. In the mid eighties, a number of philanthropists noted with concern that African countries and other developing nations were ridden with poverty among other social evils.
The gap between the governed and the governors was big, and these societies were not enlightened in many fronts. Community development was therefore the only way through which these societies could be developed. Currently, community development is seen as a very important approach of enhancing a prosperous society both in the developed and developing nations.
The Concept of Community Development
Community development is a concerted effort made by members of a given society that is geared towards the development of a given society. Jerry (2011, p. 54) argues that community development is an principle taken by moderate capitalists to ensure that although members of the society are to work for themselves to achieve specific goals in life, other well endowed members of the society should make an effort to ensure that they help the less fortunate.
Community development may take various fronts. As Lee (1989, p. 78) explains, the empowerment of the society may take social, economical or religious front. The most important concern of community development is the attainment of the basic needs. Margaret (2011, p. 23) notes that community development is currently viewed as being relevant in the developing countries, a concept that is very misleading.
When it was started, community development was to ensure that people were empowered in the three aspects named above. However, it was noted that before a person is empowered economically, other fronts of empowerment may not make sense. A person who is hungry may not understand the need to actively participate in the leadership of a given country.
As such, economic empowerment was given the first priority. Most of the developed societies do not have serious problem with the basic economic requirements.
For this reason, the economic front of community development has been relevant in the developing nations. The other front of community development is the political front. There has been need to ensure people participate in the leadership of the country. They should influence the way their country is governed.
Low (2000, p. 81) says that leadership starts from within the community. Good leadership within a given community would lead to desired results. As such, every members of the society would be required to participate actively in determining the direction that the leadership takes within that particular community.
Just like economic empowerment, economic empowerment is much needed in the developing countries. In many developed democracies like Australian, members of the society understands the need to actively participate in the leadership of the country.
Community development may also take the social approach. Civilization is one of the most controversial words in the current world. Each society considers itself civilized in its own front. An American, civilized in the western culture, would be astounded by the cultural practices of the Indians. They may consider the respect Indians accord cows as a backward behavior that is passed by time.
On the other hand, a Russian would be perplexed at the practices of the Muslims. An African would similarly be uncomfortable with the practices of the west (Hasson & Ley 1994, p. 29). Each of these societies would therefore have their own ways of defining civilization. However, there are some cultural practices of some societies that have been considered as archaic by most societies in the world.
For instance, some African societies would offer human offerings as a sacrifice to their gods when they needed rain or any other blessings that they believed could only come from god. Other still practice female genital mutilation. Such practices are inhumane because they result into serious harm to the specific individuals of the society.
On social front therefore, community development seeks to ensure that cultural practices of a given society do not in any way result into harm to other members of the society (Qiu 2006, p. 36).
It strives to ensure that the practices of the society are acceptable universally and that all the members of the society are treated equally and with the respect they deserve, irrespective of gender, color, religion or any other demographical groupings. The practice should also be geared towards the betterment of the society.
From the foregoing, it is evident that community development is one of the ways through which the society may develop without having to depend on other members of the society. It would take effort of both the public and private sectors to ensure that a given society is developed in all the fronts.
Community Development and the Public Sector
There has been need to have a ‘perfect’ community. Even among the developed nations, there has always been a feeling that something is missing. Recently, there was a public rebellion in Britain, one of the countries that are considered as the most developed in the world. In United States, there is pressure for the government to ensure that its citizens get employed as per their qualifications.
Other developed nations also have their own concerns that they feel should be addressed in order to have the ideal community. This need is even more among the developing nations. According to Robbins (2007, p. 20), most of the developed nations have a lot of challenges economically, socially and politically.
The government, through its public sectors, has the obligation to ensure that its citizens are provided with various facilities that would ensure their well being. Such facilities may include among others, hospitals, schools, accessibility to waters, source of employment among others. These are facilities that are very basic, and a community may not be considered complete without them.
Basically, the government would be expected to provide the above facilities to the community (Visser 2010, p. 31). However, it is common to find that the government has failed in one or two of the above requirements. In such occurrences, there must be a means of ensuring that the facilities that the government cannot provide are provided for through others means.
Community development has been one of the strategies through which communities have ensured that they are able to achieve beyond what the government cannot provide. This has made the work of the government easier. Because members of the society would be willing to support some of its projects, it can redirect its finances to other projects.
Relevance of Community Development in the Public Sector
Community development is very relevant in the public sector. As Martine (2008, p. 89) states, in order to ensure prosperity of a given society, there is need to involve every member of the society. Government effort alone may not achieve the best results that the society expects.
Community development is the best strategy that can be applied to ensure that the society is developed in all fronts. Government may build a hospital within a given location of a community. However, this facility may either be too far for a section of the society, or it may not be well equipped to serve the need of all the members of the society.
Through community development, other well endowed members of the society may consider improving the facility, by either offering to buy the facilities needed for the hospital or building other supportive clinics that may help decongest the existing government health facility (Zhao 2011, p. 37).
This combined effort by the government and members of the society would make it easy for the society to realize its dreams with much ease. Similarly, government may build a school. However, the community should come in to finance the school as per their own expectations.
Supplementing government effort in this manner makes it easy to have such infrastructural developments much easier. Through this partnership, the government would find it ease in achieving its development goals. It would be easy to ensure that projects that require huge investments are completed within the desirable time.
Resistance of Community Development within the Public Sector
The benefits that community development offers the public sector is as numerous as can be seen above. However, at times there arises some resistance towards community development by the public sector. The first conflict always arises due to conflict of interest. The effort of the community development team may seem to be conflicting with the government effort.
This is especially so when the empowerment is on the political front (Hofstede 2005, p. 68). Some countries, especially in the aristocratic and dictatorial leaderships, governments have been keen to ensure that the community remains less empowered politically. This makes it easy for the government to manipulate them.
When an organization comes in to sensitize the society on their rights to actively participate in the leadership of the society, it would be viewed as a direct interference to the efforts of the government and this would be met by resistance.
In some extreme cases, some governments have been keen to ensure that the community remains less empowered economically. As Meng (2010, p. 73) once said, it is very easy to control the less economically empowered members of the society because they will be struggling to get the basics in the society. An effort to empower such a society economically will be met by some form of resistance.
Some cases may involve conflicting priorities. Community development team may have a priority that may be contrasting that of the government. In such cases, the government may be trying to implement a policy across the whole country. However, the community may have a different view as to what project they need most urgently.
As such, community development may meet some form of resistance from the private sector. When the private sector fails to support community development, the projects may take longer than the expected duration, or at times it may completely fail. This is because the private sector is a major financer of community development projects.
Withdrawing their financial assistance may mean that such projects would have to get other alternative financial sources in order to be implemented. If such alternative financing fail to come, the project may completely stall.
Community Development and the Private Sector
Community development is also very important in the private sector. Just like the public sector, private sector is also geared towards ensuring that the community is developed. The private sector works in a similar front as public sector but as different entities. The private sector stands to gain a lot in case of the success of the projects set forth for community development.
Through community development, such micro-finance facilities may be developed to empower the society economically. When such facilities are developed, the private sector stands to benefit a lot because their financing solutions would have been made easier. Through an effort of community development facilitators and government, such infrastructures like roads can be developed.
As such, the private sectors would find it easy to undertake their activities through improved transport system. Such other facilities as hospitals and availability of water would make it easy for the private sector to undertake their duties. They would be working in an environment that has basic infrastructural requirements.
Resistance of Community Development within the Private Sector
Although the private sector has a lot to benefit from community development, there has been some form of resistance from some quarters. The main form of resistance always comes from competing interests. Some of the activities of community development offer direct challenge to the private sector.
According to Hakim (2000, p. 79), most of the projects undertaken in community development are always meant to ensure that the community is economically empowered. Some of the projects may involve starring businesses for some members of the society. This would directly affect the section of the private sector that was involved in that particular business.
In this case, the private sector would not view community development as a partner in the development of the society, but a competitor that threatens to push it out of the market. Just like any other competitor, community development would face a lot of resistance from the private sector. In some cases, community development may pose a real threat to community development.
For instance, some not for profit organizations would offer free medications to the public as a way of ensuring that the community has good health. However, this would have direct negative effect to the private firms like pharmacies.
Resistance of Community Development within itself
There arise situations where resistance would come from the concerned individuals that are involved in undertaking certain projects in community development. As stated above, community development refers to principles and values geared towards ensuring that a given community is liberated.
Because different people would reason differently, the principles that a given party would support may be different from what another party would have. Anarchy may arise especially when both parties insist on their strategies as being the best. One party may accuse the other of bringing strategies that do not work, while the other may also view the other group as fronting strategies that are not workable.
Such antagonistic relationship within community development itself poses great challenge to prosperity of the intended projects. Much of the resources would be spent on choosing which approach to take in undertaking certain duties. Furthermore, even after one approach is taken, the party whose strategy was not taken would most likely fail to support the project.
On the contrary, they may bring in strategies that would ensure that the project fails just to prove that their strategy would have worked better were it to be chosen. Caves (2007, p. 36) says that most projects would fail because of such misunderstanding.
Besides government interferences, this scholar notes that in-fights among the implementing partners is the most destructive factor that would interfere with the success of community development.
Community development is one of the best ways through which a given society can develop its structures. It started out in the United States in early sixties as a way of ensuring that members of the society who were economically challenged get elevated economically. Community development was also motivated by the need to have a society where equality of the citizens is respected both socially and politically.
It moved to other countries when people realized that it was the best approach through which different societies could be developed.
Currently, community development is very popular in the developing countries. In these countries, there is a serious need to ensure economic empowerment as other members of the society live on deplorable conditions. This has made community development be viewed as an approach fit for the developing nations. However, it is very helpful both to the developed and developing nations.
Community development has a lot to offer to the public and private sector. To the public sector, it helps in ensuring that the infrastructure is developed. Through this combined effort, a given community would be able to develop such facilities as schools, hospitals and other related facilities.
To the private sector, community development comes as a tool that allows the concerned involved to work in collaboration to ensure that the society is self sufficient. Community development is very vital to the private sector. Through it, the infrastructure of a given society will be developed.
When such facilities as roads, banking institutions and even hospitals are developed, the private sector would find it very easy to progress in their activities.
Despite the obvious benefits community development has to offer to the public and private sectors, it has met some resistance from both of these sectors and within itself. From the public sector, many government or government institutions view the activities involved in community development as a challenge to their leadership, or conflicting their own projects.
For this reason, such public sectors may fail to support the projects for the community development. This would pose a challenge to the success of these projects.
To the private sector, some of the project may pose challenge to their prosperity, hence making them view community development as an impediment to their development. Within community development itself, there may be resistance, especially when there seems to be a contradiction in the approach that should be taken to accomplish a given project.
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