Success criteria for volunteer involvement
The case studies in the second chapter highlight four main
criteria for successful volunteer involvement in urban interventions:
flexibility; continuity; sustainability and self-reliance.
The focus on needs assessment by the people themselves necessarily
calls for flexibility in setting project objectives. In other words, even if
certain broad goals are set, they need to be defined and spelt out with
references to what the communities themselves articulate as their objectives.
This raises the question as to who (NGOs, governmental bodies, international
agencies) would have the responsibility of eliciting communities' views. There
does not seem to be a consensus on who is the best party for this; each
situation would determine the dynamics of interventions.
Development processes take time to root. Once priorities are set,
therefore, initiatives are necessarily long-term. The exact timeframe, however,
would depend on local community capacity to manage without external support.
There should be an emphasis on participation and local capacity-building
organisational and technical) which would lead to empowerment of the community
and act as a check against engendering dependence. This needs to be consciously
promoted as far as possible, through the use of local resources (in terms of
both skills and money), enlisting the participation of the community at every
stage, and providing training and resources, where necessary, to either
reinforce the community's own efforts or to initiate new activities. The
importance of this approach is borne out by the experience of many projects,
heavily dependent on external inputs, which could not be sustained once external
support is withdrawn.
Therefore, ensuring sustainability and self-reliance are of
paramount importance, and these objectives must guide the entire process of
external intervention. A practical step in this process might involve the
extension of financial support to local community members so that they may
devote full time attention to organising and mobilising work, which is best done
by local people