There is a renewed call for a new approach to development with emphasis on community empowerment or participation, with the belief that more sustainable activities will be undertaken in those communities. Much of that call, however, is coming not from within the communities, but primarily from advocates of change who may have little to do with those communities. What then will the new approach bring apart from a change in who are the decision-makers?
And how do we ensure that the change that is called for will, in fact, bring added benefits to the communities themselves?
To be sure, there are some successful stories of a community approach to problem solving. However, there are also many more stories of project failures. Serious analytical work, therefore, needs to be done to determine the factors that promote a successful community-based approach; when
this approach should be used; and the methodology that should be employed. In an attempt to determine these factors, a brief analysis will be made of some of the governing structures in the subregion and their possible impact on the proposed new approach. Some of the earlier efforts at stakeholder and community approach to projects will also be examined as well as the new development strategy that is prompting the call for this new paradigm.
The new paradigm focuses to a large extent on decision-making and community empowerment. With few exceptions, it is short on the promotion of tangible activities that are based on the resource inventory of the communities.
This is not surprising, since, as noted before, the advocates of community empowerment may have very little connection with the communities and, in most cases, are unfamiliar with the resource base. Hence, a theoretical case is made, suggesting more style than substance.
Another obvious shortcoming of this new paradigm is its continued over- dependence on assistance from the outside to build communities.
Externally funded projects, seminars and meetings outside of the communities and foreign technical assistance continue to dominate these projects. While, of course, all communities have basic common needs such as water, health, education and electricity, there is sufficient diversity within communities to allow for tailoring of activities and programmes such that their differences become
It is in that context, that agro-tourism activities, standards, agricultural diversification, food and nutrition and priority setting have been chosen as aspects and activities for promoting community development, drawing on the various strengths of communities, rural or urban.