People are people everywhere. As people, we rarely get involved and contribute to programs where we don’t trust the individuals running it, where we don’t feel that our way of life is understood and respected, and where the cost of getting involved (time, material contributions, or social cost) outweighs the perceived benefit. We don’t want to be bored, or lectured to, or stressed because we’d prefer to be out contributing to our family’s wellbeing. The same general principles apply to community members we want to work with—but often, our project planning and approach doesn’t take this into account. Too often, we forget that communities are more than a set of needs waiting for a project, we forget about good engagement processes, and we jump straight into implementation. It’s the worst thing we could do!
The skill in implementing good, community-sensitive development is to re-focus on community context, developing strategies and processes that will help you link in with people’s lived experience. It’s about refining how we do our work so we can get better traction in a community.