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Have you ever found yourself
working on a really great project, but…

  • You couldn’t get people to attend meetings without paying an attendance fee? Or maybe meetings went well, but then nothing actually happened afterwards?
  • You couldn’t get communities engaged with the work? Or maybe everything you did stopped with the local elites, when in fact you were meant to be working with more vulnerable sectors?
  • You couldn’t get community members to contribute to the work? Or maybe you thought the project had gone ok, but it all fell apart as soon as the funding ended?

Situations like these are truly frustrating.

You may believe whole-heartedly in the project and see the potential benefits to people’s lives, but this counts for very little if you can’t get the community to engage.

Faced with this, it’s easy to shift the blame to the community, say that they ‘should’ just get on board. But you’re the one responsible for making it work. What if they simply won’t engage with it? What do you do then?

When we can’t get communities to engage with our work, it’s easy to simply say that communities are ‘dependent’, with the presumption that things will only change if communities themselves change. And sometimes there might be some truth in that. But it’s also limited and disempowering — both for you, and for communities themselves. There’s no solution offered: it doesn’t fix anything.

The reality is that in many cases there actually are things that can be done by development practitioners to improve how we work with communities.

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.

Here’s what you’ll learn…

Bridging Peoples’ Working With Communities course is taught by published author and local governance and development specialist, Dr. Deborah Cummins.

In this course, you will learn the fundamentals of good community engagement across the project life-cycle, including:

Basic Principles of Community Engagement, Community and Project Planning, Understanding Local Governance, Mapping Community Leadership Structures, Community Mobilisation Strategies, Outreach Strategies to Vulnerable Sectors of the Community, Implementation Strategies, Conflict Mitigation/Resolution, and Monitoring & Evaluation.

And – if your approach is to work in partnership with community organisations – you will also receive bonus training on the Basic Principles of Organisational Development.

By the end of the course, you will have all the tools you need to create your own comprehensive community engagement strategy, plus many other skills besides.

This course happens twice a year and currently registration is closed.

As this course forms part of your professional development, it may be worth asking your organisation if they can pay for your participation.

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Sign up to our newsletter, and be the first to hear when we’re open for enrolment!