Community projects are most successful and impactful when the involvement of local stakeholders are given a priority. Artemis Impact believes in the inclusion of the indigenous community for effective realization and implementation of the desired outcome.
The traditional approach towards community development projects rarely results in sustainable, long term solutions to problems faced by a community. Therefore, the ideal approach to community development projects should be participatory (involving local stakeholders) and inclusive.
Lack of community involvement may often lead to short-term outcomes. The project may also not yield its optimum potential.
For example, a project aimed at increasing access to clean water and sanitation facilities in sub-Saharan Africa installed boreholes and wells worth nearly US $360 million. However, it was found that the project could not reach the desired outcome due to the lack of inclusion and participation of the locals.
It is therefore realized that a ‘top-down’ approach seldom yields desired results with respect to community development projects. The ideal approach has the local stakeholders at its core and works its ways toward realizing the goals set to be achieved for the community.
Another ideal approach would be to sync the ‘top-down’ and ‘bottom-up’ approaches which can help in developing sustainable and long-term solutions for the community and establish two-way accountability between the community and external agencies.
Involvement from the local community can prove beneficial for the project owner to target and serve its beneficiaries effectively, measure the impact created by the project, and engage the donors.
One of the examples of the inclusion of a collaborative approach of ‘top-down’ and ‘bottom-up’ and inclusion of the local community would be a project—powered & supported by Artemis & other partners like Hara, Innovator 4.0 and Campaign.com—involving nationwide food security project in Indonesia—Peduli Pangan
It was found that the local farmers had suffered the brunt of the pandemic which resulted in a downturn in their revenue due to disruption in the supply chain and transportation. Food security was also under threat among the impoverished communities.
To tackle the problem, Peduli Pangan decided to create a value chain that involved sourcing local supplies from the farmers in the rural areas and providing them to soup kitchens involved in cooking food for the needy. The process involved volunteers from the local community. As a result, the initiative ended up providing food to over 99,000 people in need & aims to reach 160,000 people. Also, the local farmers & more than 100 volunteers benefited from the project and received regular payments during the course of the project.
Besides helping the farmers sell their produce and providing meals to the needy, the Peduli Pangan project was able to raise funds to the tune of $105k.
Some of the key reasons behind the success of the project were the inclusion of the local community and having a two-way communication to understand their problems and needs better. Knowing and involving the community also helped in the collection of more accurate impact data.
How the collaborative approach benefited the local community
- The involvement of locals led to better execution of activities and enhanced the quality of data. It also resulted in polishing and enhancing the skills of the locals which has long-standing benefits for the community.
- Leveraging personal, shareable stories from the local community also enhanced donor engagement.
- The collaborative approach and inclusion of the locals in the project helped in enhancing their skills, bolstering their confidence, self-esteem, and decision-making ability.
The hallmark of a sound and effective community development project is the inclusion of the local community at all stages.
As an organization leading the impact project, your role would also be to facilitate discussion to help the community realize their needs and come up with solutions. There is also the need to instil a sense of ownership in the locals toward the attainability of the outcome.
Involving the locals…
The locals should be involved in a way so that they identify the problem areas, demand a change and come up with a solution. Also, with time, they should be able to identify the most vulnerable stakeholders so that they are among the first ones to be supported. Discussion, interviews, surveys, questionnaires can help facilitate social inquiry.
With respect to Peduli Pangan, Artemis & other partners facilitated a detailed assessment of needs, identification of primary stakeholders and defined Theory of Change after working together with the local community. The process also involved other local entities and authorities, NGOs, leaders, among others.
- Well designed Theory of Change
The consultations helped in defining their Theory of Change, primary target stakeholder, among other aspects of the outcome desired. It was found that the elderly should be the priority and that packaged meals should ideally be provided for breakfast as most needy remained hungry in the morning and did receive some sort of meal support for dinner.
- Empowers the community
The process helped in making the community feel respected and heard and more aware of their needs and issues. They were more confident in demanding change, gained perspectives and learnt new skills as well as problem-solving ability. With the help of the project, the organization could also understand the nuances of the community better, their problems and their needs. Therefore, the solutions proposed were more impactful, efficient and direct.
- Gets more support from the community
Involving the local community can also do away with the resistance and can help create a sense of ownership in them toward achieving the desired outcome or goal.
- Improves monitoring and evaluation process
The role of the locals is also important during the monitoring and evaluation process, as well as while reporting and communicating the result achieved by the impact project. While the community can be trained on data collection, a dialogue with them can help in understanding what results are of greater significance to them. The channel of communication with the local stakeholders must be kept open at all points and their perspectives and the local ‘know-how’ must be taken into consideration.
Creating a participatory monitoring and evaluation process helps in enabling both the organizer and the local community to become more accountable toward the outcome.
Therefore, Peduli Pangan is a quintessential example of how to strike a balance between ‘top-down’ and ‘bottom-up’ approaches to yield the desired result for a community project. The case study lists out the following salient features of an impact project involving the local community.
Create ownership and two-way accountability
- Be flexible and open with respect to the involvement of the locals
- Hear them out and leverage their skills and knowledge.
- Assess their needs, challenges, capabilities, aspirations early on.
- Find out more ways to involve them in the project – both during the execution of the project as well as at the time of monitoring and evaluation.
Watch out for:
Lack of understanding with various local stakeholders can impact the efficacy of the project. Lack of understanding of their capabilities can also adversely impact the results.
Ensure that communication is smooth and timely. Make sure to identify the power structures existing within the community.
In a nutshell
The above-mentioned case study of a developmental project supported by Artemis through its Outcome-based funding & proprietary technology to measure impact depicts how a ‘community-centred’ project yields better and long-lasting impact. The involvement of the locals should be prudent, one which ensures their empowerment. The community should be the driving force of the initiative, the decision-making entity. Through the project, not only the existing skill-set of the locals were enhanced but their knowledge and capabilities were also tapped and utilized to achieve the desired output.
Read more about Peduli Pangan project below :
Visit Peduli Pangan official website to learn more
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