Community participation is a key ingredient of any powerful community. The life blood (citizens) of the community is pumped by the heart, called as participation. Community participation is a requirement as well as a condition. It is a condition for raising resources and achieving more results. It engages the citizens deeply in work of the development of community. Community participation is about performing activities for the benefits of any community. The partners of the community follow certain rules and posses unique elements. They have a goal to achieve. This topic has various aspects; the purpose of writing this case study is to explore the minor and major aspects of community participation among kids and adults, both. This case study begins with the background of use of community participation as a tool, its strengths and weaknesses, the role of government in expanding this tool and the ways of communication used for participation.
In (1998), M. Scott Peck said that "in a community, instead of being ignored, denied or hidden, or changed, human differences are celebrated as gifts." 1 Reid J. Norman described participation in (2002) as:
"Participation is a rich concept that varies with its applications and definition. The way participation is defined also depends on the context in which it occurs. For some, it is a matter of principle; for others, practice; for still others, an end in itself." 2
1. Peck M. Scott, The Different Drum: Community Making and Peace (New York: Touchstone Books, 1998).
2. Reid J. Norman, How People Power Brings Sustainable Benefits to Communities, USDA Rural Developments (2002), http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/rbs/ezec/Pubs/commparticrept.pdf.
Community participation began with the beginning of programs at regional or national levels. Community participation had three distinct kinds. e is a kind of beneficiary involvement in implementation as well as the planning of community participation. Second is the external help to create local organizations. Third are the spontaneous activities of various local organizations; such organizations did not result from an indigenous local participation.
Body of the Analysis
Community participation has various ideologies of participation. It is a requirement as well as a condition for diagnosis, research, community planning, innovation, project identification, knowledge and formulation. The management of natural resources, challenges of rural development and in health sector; community participation is a must.
According to United Nation's ESCAP in (2009):
"Governance plays an important role in determining the conditions under which participation can take place and, through its mechanisms, processes and institutions, it critically affects the possibility of participation as well as its likely success.3
A professor at the University of Stellenbosch describes:
"Community participation is the active process by w hich beneficiary groups influence the direction and the execution of a project. The beneficiary groups do this with a view of enhancing their well-being in terms of income, personal growth, self-reliance or other values they cherish."4
3. Peck M. Scott, The Different Drum: Community Making and Peace (New York: Touchstone Books, 1998).
4. Reid J. Norman, How People Power Brings Sustainable Benefits to Communities, USDA Rural Developments (2002), http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/rbs/ezec/Pubs/commparticrept.pdf.
Participation is like a vehicle that that influences the decisions of citizens. Such decisions are like an avenue for the transformation of political power. During community participation, citizens act to respond to the voice and opinions of the public. Community participation has now become an important part of various health programs. Haglund described community participation as an essential part of promoting health programs in (1991) as:
"A method for assessing community participation in health programs is developed…the method uses five indicators that strongly influence the community participation process. These are: needs assessment, leadership, organization, resource mobilization and management." 5
Basically intervention of a community is like a strategy, this is based on a strong concept of bringing changes in the values and norms of a community.
Community participation affects decision making and action process of citizens. It draws on enthusiasm and energy that exists within the communities; it defines the objectives and operations of the community. In the year 1992, the United Nations organized a conference in Rio de Janeiro. Government representatives from approximately 178 countries participated in it. Agenda 21 was a major outcome of that conference. The purpose of that conference was to highlight the factors that affect the quality of human life and to bring improvements in the environment. This event greatly supported the methods, strategies and techniques of community participation. A wide use of community participation has made its actual meaning very unclear; splitting this term into two; "community" and "participation." In practice, the community participation is influenced by different concepts of different people.
5. Peck M. Scott, The Different Drum: Community Making and Peace (New York: Touchstone Books, 1998).
A politician will focus on political constituencies as communities while some other person will have a different meaning of communities for himself. Community participation is important. Professionals working in organizations and health authorities consider community participation as a help for targeting there resources in a more efficient and effective manner. The World Health Organization describes community participation in (2002) as:
"The challenge for many people working in local authorities, health authorities and other agencies is to move up the ladder, finding new tools and techniques that promote active and genuine involvement, citizenship and empowerment rather than settling for the more passive processes of providing information and consultation." 6
Community participation is supported by governments in order to improve the conditions of various political movements. Also presence of community participation in health sector, education sector and other organizations, allows citizens to come close to one another. They are able to identify their goals and act according to the norms of their community to achieve them.
Strategies and Techniques of Community Participation
Bracht and Tsouros describe the action cycle of community participation as:
"Recognizing the importance of working within an integrated strategic planning framework…the techniques and methods are broadly characterized according to an action planning model comprising a continuous cycle with five stages." 7
The five stages include assessment of needs and assets, generating
6. World Health Organization (WHO), "Community participation in local health and sustainable development -- Approaches and Techniques," (2002), http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0013/101065/E78652.pdf
7. Bracht, N. & Tsources, A. "Principles and strategies of effective community participation." Journal of Health promotion International, no. 5 (1990):199-208.
ng plans and ideas for action, evaluation, monitoring and agreeing on one single vision. The community participation techniques have a check list that has various questions such is what is the nature of the community, how important is the quality and quantity, how much time and resources to be allocated and etc. is allow gathering information, producing and also displaying the map in order to start working. Community participation is built on several pillars and one of them is the mapping process.
"Community may not be from one area. A wide range of arts media have been used in the mapping process-including painting, collage, embroidery, photography, poetry, video, music and performance. Community art workers serve a valuable role in the development of the group's confidence and cohesiveness." 8
Not only adults but also kids make the best use of arts and maps during community participation. They communicate with the adult members through arts and maps. They are assigned small tasks in their local areas, where they find the respective locations through arts and pictures. Community participation has now been expanded. Bilken (1988) describes this as"
"Visual techniques are very common in participatory research. Children including those that are not literate can use these techniques to describe their environments, life situations, preferences and part histories. Mapping is a very commonly used visual technique." 9
Community participation brings joy as it depends on open com munity involvement.
8. Schuftan, C. "The community development dilemma: what is really empowering," Community development Journal, no. 31 (1996):260 -- 264.
9. Bilken, S. "Are you retarded? No I'm Catholic: qualitative methods in the study of people with severe handicaps," Journal of the Association for the persons with severe handicaps, no. 13, (1988): 155 -- 162.
They are various ways of building participation for a long time. They are few members that stay in a community for a very long time while some leave in between. The key is to keep on building participation. Welcoming participants with a friendly smile is very important. Be glad to them, offer them new job opportunities, explain them the process in simple words, take the ideas of newcomers seriously and explore the interests and talents of all the participants.
In Western Australia, different programs have been launched for bringing children and young people towards community activities. The objective of these programs is to make children to learn new skills, to understand community networks and they are free to express their opinions. Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth publishes that:
"Participation in sport and cultural activities can have many benefits for children and young people in addition to supporting physical and mental development. These benefits include development of team work abilities, communication skills and a sense of connectedness to community."10