Community based initiatives are integrated approaches to socioeconomic development aimed at achieving health, a better quality of life and a reduction of poverty. Health is interrelated with the socioeconomic environment. Both reinforce one another. Experience has shown that a social infrastructure and ensuring the effective use of services assists in the overall development of a community. Improvements in health, agriculture and social welfare ply important roles in the quality of live and health of people. An active role and empowerment of the community members are important for a addressing their needs and a successful implementation of an integrated project.
There are several steps to mobilize a community. The WHO defines a framework for action including the next steps: sensitization, orientation and development of awareness, motivating and social preparation, organizational development, capacity-building, bringing allies together, sharing information and communication, support and incentives, generation of resources, focus for socioeconomic development, keeping up morale and pace to attain the goals.
Empowering the community is an essential element of a health intervention. Community empowerment requires commitment at all levels. The community is the best judge of it’s own problems and possesses the ability to undertake appropriate action for their solution. The capacities of de community should be optimised and skills need to be trained. Training on decision making, planning, implementation and resource management. Local leadership and obtainment of resources can create a culture of sharing the responsibility. It’s important that the community feels they have an influence on policy development and future actions. Women should also have an important role in sharing the responsibility and power. Interaction with other societies to learn from other experiences and share information is another important element.
Community participation and empowerment involves:
- Initiation and process by someone in the community;
- A first orientation on the purpose and benefits of community participation and empowerment;
- An overview of roles and stakeholders and community;
- Help and involvement from partners in the community;
- Commitment by all parties;
- The members of the community feel ownership of the programme and the objectives; and
- Self-confidence in acting as a community.
The underlying purpose of social mobilization and community empowerment is attaining a level of self-sufficiency in a community.
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