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Community Development Workers Face Exploratory Essay

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Updated: Jun 14th, 2019

Community development (CD) can be defined as the empowerment of members of a community. This empowerment is tailored to ensure that the members of the community are not only willing, but also able to make good decisions about their lives. Community development is relevant in any country, regardless of whether the country is a developing country or an already developed country.

Although term community development is mainly used to refer to the economic empowerment of a community, this is not all community development is about. CD is not only meant for economic related concepts, but also for other life concepts that are of concern. It could revolve around education, politics, and health among other things. There are very many people who work as community development workers.

They include civil servants, teachers, and those working in non- governmental organizations that deal with community development. In as much as these and other community development workers work to make the community self sufficient, there are very many challenges, tensions, and dilemmas that get in their way. The community development workers have to be good at what they do, despite all these challenges.

A community development worker is supposed to be well trained in order to do his or her work accordingly. A CD worker is also supposed to be organized, a good facilitator, a good public speaker, able to work in teams, and a good problem solver. There are, however, very many challenges that make community development workers unable to be the best that they can be.

Some of these challenges are personal while others affect every community development worker regardless of the region they are located. The most common personal dilemmas that the community development workers face revolve around individual ethics. The other problems that CD workers face revolve around governments, funding, and social problems among other issues (Hoggett, Mayo, & Miller, 2008, p. 34).

One of the biggest challenges that make the community development worker’s work difficult is shallow training. There are many universities and colleges that offer community development as a course, yet most of their students cannot solve some of the common problems in their respective societies. The Kenyan society has had its share of community development projects.

The country is categorized as a developing country in Africa. However, there are very many members of this country who do not know how to make fulfilling decisions. This is mainly visible in matters that concern finances. Very many of the elderly in the community are illiterate and they cannot make decisions concerning education and health.

This presents a huge challenge to the community development workers in the country. CD workers are unable to have satisfactory conversations and projects with some of the members of the community due to language barriers among other barriers. The students who have taken the course in schools have also not been well trained.

The school curriculum is not sufficient for the societal problems that Kenya and other developing countries face. It is possible to find that the students taking CD courses use case studies that were relevant more than a decade ago. The students should be encouraged to use recent case studies even though the lessons of the past might be useful in solving some of the problems today.

This will not only ensure that students can think on their feet, but it will also ensure that the solutions that they come up with in the future for the societal problems will be relevant. Failure to ensure that the students keep relevant can lead to low standards among community development workers.

Another challenge that the community development workers in many areas face is culture. There are various types of cultures that an individual can have. For example, an individual can have the culture that they were born in. One could be an Asian, thereby possessing the Asian culture.

There are also cultures that one adopts as they socialize in life. Workmates in the same company have a certain work culture that might be different from the work culture of the members of another company. The cultures that are adopted through the process of socialization shape the personalities, attitudes, and beliefs of the individual in question.

Some of the cultures that members of the community have made it impossible for the community development workers to do their job sufficiently. For example, one of the commonest cultures in the Latina community is that in a restaurant, the waiter should give the client the bill only after the client has asked for it. Giving the client the bill before they ask for it is considered rude and unacceptable.

This has put the Latinos in awkward positions with other cultures, especially the white people who do not agree with the practice.

In relation to community development, it is possible to find that many restaurant owners believe that people from the Latino community are not good customers because they are known to run away without paying their bills. The other communities, therefore, shun the Latinos, thereby making it impossible for the community development workers work with them.

The community development workers also get little support for their projects. There are governments that do not allow some types of community development projects. For example, the Gladstone’s Philip Street social services hub in Australia has had a hard time getting the required funding from the federal government. The project involves child care, retirement, and entertainment concepts that were to be set up in the region.

All the facilities that were to be included in the project were for the benefit of the community. However, the politics and the ethics of the federal government did not allow this project to go through.

This is just one example of some of the community development projects that have been rejected by governments over the years. Many of the governments have claimed that the projects that were rejected were either irrelevant or very expensive. This denied them the desired support.

There are also projects that have been approved by governments but have never been implemented. These include the projects that are implemented slowly and for very many years. Such projects waste time and do not help the community in any way.

This shows that the community development worker who was involved in the creation of a concept that was supposed to be helpful to the community did his/her part of the work had no impact on changing of the community for the better. This, in turn, means that the community involved will still be lagging behind in some aspects.

For example, the Clean Development Mechanism project that is designed to help in the conservation of the environment has met one challenge after the other. This is a project that is to be implemented in very many countries that formed the treaty.

There is no one country that has achieved the full goals of this project up to today. Other countries that are also included in this treaty have not done anything toward the implementation of the treaty. The governments of these countries can be blamed for this.

Politics and politicians can also present a big challenge to the community development workers. Politics can do this by refusing grants that are forwarded to fund such developments. They also present challenges by linking all the community development projects to politics. This becomes a disadvantage to the community development worker as some members of the community might not be comfortable with the project.

This is mainly true in the areas that did not vote for the government in power. The bitterness that the members of the specific community might have toward the government might make them refuse any kind of community development project supported by the government.

It is true that all community development projects rely on the members of the community. The project is seen as a failure if members of the community refuse to participate in the project for any reason whatsoever.

The formulation of policies for the community development projects also presents several challenges. In most countries, community development projects are usually funded by non-governmental organizations and the government itself. It is very difficult to find individuals funding entire community development projects.

The sponsors usually want the projects to be finished as quickly as possible since they have very little to gain from the community development project. This might mean overlooking some of the important aspects that might make a huge difference. This, in turn, leads to short term results.

The community might get the knowledge that was being passed, but forget the lessons after a short while. This takes the entire community one step backwards. Such projects are usually beneficial to the sponsors who want to create a better image of themselves to the public.

It has also been evident that the rate of change in general in the world is greater than that of community development policies. This means that the world is changing at a very fast rate such that community development workers have a hard time catching up.

For instance, the policies that were used last year to solve the problems of a community are not applicable this year to solve the problems of the same community. This might be due to different factors. For example, new challenges might have arisen, making the specific policy that was used a year ago useless.

It is also possible that the technological advancements that are experienced in the world play a major role in the failure of community development workers. These technological advancements have created new problems that CD workers have to address on a daily basis.

Another dilemma that the community development workers face is intertwining and connecting social factors. In this day and age, there are very many factors in the community that are related. This means that changing one factor might affect other factors directly or indirectly and the results can be good or bad.

The community development worker has to ensure that the factors that will be affected by the change they are advocating for are not depended upon by the community in question (Brake & Deller, 2008, p. 94). For example, the issue of street urchins has been among the hotly debated topics in many developing and developed countries.

Many of the projects that have been put up to ensure the removal of children from the streets have proven futile. Most of the developing countries have tried putting street teenagers and kids in school and children’s homes. However, many of the street urchins are unable to stay in school and in the homes. They, therefore, run away. The factors that revolve around this issue of street urchins include socialization and culture.

Many parents do not feel safe when their children interact with street urchins. This gives the street urchins a very hard time at school. Sadly, very few people in the community want to be associated with street urchins. These, among other factors, have made the community development projects related to improving the lives of the street urchins difficult, if not impossible.

In the same breath, building of rehab centres in the cities has led to an increase in the number of people abusing drugs. This might not have been the intention of the community development workers who advocated for the rehab centres. In this scenario building of the rehab centres affects another social factor by increasing the number of people who abuse drugs.

There are also the ethical challenges and dilemmas that the community development worker faces. These ethical challenges also affect the work quality of the community development worker in question. Respect is one of the most conflicting factors in community development. Most community development workers interact with the members of the community closely.

CD workers are supposed to respect the views and opinions of the individuals that they interact with. However, there are some times when the individual themselves might be rude toward the community development worker.

This puts the worker in a bad position since they are not supposed to argue with the people they are interacting, despite feeling hurt and probably wanting to become defensive (Hoggett, Mayo, & Miller, 2008, p. 34).

Another ethical dilemma that any community development worker faces is not being in agreement with the project at hand. For example, an individual might not be comfortable teaching the public about reproductive health because they are shy, or their culture does not allow such discussions.

However, the CD worker will have to do the project if they are in need of work. Unfortunately, the fact that they are not comfortable with the work might affect the end results of the project.

There are also some sponsors who engage in community development for other reasons apart from helping the society. Many governments have experienced this problem. Some of the decisions that the government makes are not only to help the citizens of the specific country, but also to benefit them individually.

For example, projects that involve the construction of dams, wells, and schools among other facilities can be awarded to personal friends of the government. Even though this problem does not affect the community directly, it is an ethical dilemma for the community development worker and might affect their desire to do the project.

Conclusion

There are very many challenges that the community development worker has to overcome in order to do their job accordingly. Many of the problems that have been discussed are brought about by governments and the society. The problems that the community development worker faces due to personal attitude, beliefs, and culture are very minimal.

Despite these challenges and dilemmas, the community development worker is expected to be a good facilitator and problem-solver. One thing that is clear is that the work of the community development workers will be reduced to identifying problems in the society and not being able to solve them if the problems the CD workers face are not addressed exhaustively.

Reference List

Brake, R & Deller, U 2008, Community development: A European challenge, Barbra Budrich Publishers, Stauffenbergstr, Germany

Hoggett, P, Mayo, M, & Miller, C 2008, The dilemmas of development work: Ethical challenges in regeneration, The Policy Press, Bristol, UK

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