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close this bookWater and Sanitation Technologies: A Trainer's Manual (Peace Corps, 1985)
close this folderSessions
close this folderSession 4 - Community mobilization
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentAttachment 4A: Development and self-reliance
View the documentAttachment 4B: Community mobilization



Two hours


* Describe various strategies that a volunteer could use to mobilize a community for a development project

* Practice the group decision making process


Assignment Children: UNICEF, pp. 109-130

Attachment 4-A: "Development and Self-Reliance"

Attachment 4-B: "Case Studies"


Newsprint and felt-tip pens


Copies of both Attachments for all trainees


Two or more

Trainer Introduction

The theme of community participation in development projects should be emphasized throughout the training program. This session is designed to stress the importance of that theme, and develop possible strategies for community mobilization. Trainers should encourage an exchange of ideas among the trainees, stressing important points that are brought up. The session may be scheduled in the evening to allow additional time if a lively discussion occurs. The readings in Assignment Children and Attachment 4-A should be read prior to the session.


Step 1

5 minutes

Present the objectives and format for the session.

Step 2

10 minutes

Divide the trainees into four groups. Each group should receive one case study from Attachment 4-B, with enough copies for all group members. Individually, the trainees should read their case study and decide on a strategy.

Trainer Note

There should be no discussion within the groups at this time. Trainees should decide on a strategy individually. They may select one of the possible strategies listed or develop their own.

Step 3

10 minutes

Each group should discuss their case study among themselves and arrive at a consensus decision on a strategy.

Step 4

60 minutes

Each group reports back. They read their case study, present possible strategies, and announce their decision. The trainees, as a whole, discuss each case study and the small group decisions.

Trainer Note

Allow each small group to lead the discussion concerning their case study. Provide input to the discussion by emphasizing important points that are raised, or by suggesting ideas that the trainees may have overlooked. Listed below, by case study number, are some important points that should be mentioned.

Case Study I

A successful project needs support from both community leaders and followers.

Case Study II

When a community need is beyond a Volunteer's ability to fulfill, it is important to work out some acceptable alternative in order to keep the community involved and enthused in the development process.

Case Study III

A community's enthusiasm for a project is, in many cases, directly linked to the community members' level of understanding of the technology which the project uses.

Case Study IV

It is important that the community understands the Volunteer's capabilities and limitations right from the start. Conversely, the Volunteer should try to understand what the community's concerns and interests are, as well as their capabilities.

A Volunteer's perception of community needs may be different than that of the community's own perception of its needs. Also, agreement on community problems does not necessarily lead to agreement on solutions to those problems. In such cases, education, sharing information, and community consensus should precede attempts at implementation of a project.

Step 5

30 minutes

As a large group, discuss the decision making process that went on during Steps 2, 3, and 4.

Trainer Note

Facilitate this discussion, pointing out the dual importance of actual development strategies and the decision-making process used to select those strategies. Emphasize the fact that in many third world countries, a consensus decision-making process is used. Also, mention the fact that the way a Volunteer approaches and works within a community greatly affects the level of community involvement. Here are some questions to consider:

* Was the decision easier to reach individually, or as a group?
* What were the dynamics involved in the consensus decision process?
* Would the chosen strategies solve the problems faced by the community?
* Would they lead to community self-sufficiency or dependency?

Step 6

5 minutes

Review the objectives of the session and conclude by asking the trainees to think about how their own choices of development strategies, and their own decision making processes can greatly affect the local people they work with, and what they accomplish.