|Education for Health (WHO, 1988, 274 p.)|
|Chapter 6: Health education with communities|
Mobilizing community resources means that every member of the community is encouraged to give whatever resources he or she can offer towards solving a community problem. A health committee, club, or association cannot build a new market, a road, or a well alone. Help is needed from the whole community.
Planning the project
The planning skills described in Chapter 3 are most useful here. One of the main things to remember is that the community should:
- Identify its own needs.
- Plan its own solutions.
- Get the maximum number of people to participate voluntarily in the project.
A main purpose is to strengthen the ability of people to solve their problems using their own resources. Besides being the least costly way of solving a problem, using local resources also gives people a feeling of pride and self-worth. Identifying resources (pages 64-71) is most important for the effective mobilization of the community.
People in this village have decided to build a new classroom for their primary school through self-help. Here the village women are participating by collecting sand, a local resource to be used in making cement for the building.
You should not make plans for the group. Encourage its members to make decisions for themselves. Decision-making is one of the skills the group is learning. Of course you may give guidance and suggestions. In particular, make sure the group is realistic about the amount of time and other resources they will need for the project.
As the group begins the project, you should be around to watch and give suggestions. You may have to demonstrate some new skills. Then step back and let the people learn by doing the work for themselves. As the work is being done, meet the people and discuss their progress. Find out what they are learning. Praise them when they are doing well.
A school-run poultry farm is a project through which children can learn about nutrition, develop a sense of responsibility and gain self-help skills, and therefore self-reliance. These skills and the feeling of self-reliance will spread to the families of the children.
Point out any problems you might see. Ask the group to think of solutions to the problems.
At the end, discuss with the person or group the results they have achieved. Find out if they are happy with the way the project turned out. What new skills and ideas did they learn? What might they do better next time? Praise them for what they have achieved. This will encourage them to continue.
If a project does not succeed, people often become sad or angry. This is natural. If this happens, you must help people see that learning can come out of mistakes too. Help them see the reasons for the failure. Do not let people start blaming each other. Encourage them to discuss how they will work better next time.
Think about the values in the community where you work. Do people value cooperation and helping friends in need? Do they value the idea of each person giving service to the community Is it important to people that their community looks progressive to the neighboring Communities?
If these values are present in a community, people are likely to be motivated into action that will improve their community and develop self-reliance.