Cover Image
close this bookThe Community Builders: A Practical Guide where People Matter (GTZ, 1989)
close this folderSection A
View the documentA1: Questioning the Idea
View the documentA2: Working with the Community Builder
View the documentA3: The Discussion Process
View the documentA4: Tools to Better Discussion
View the documentA5: The Project Proposal

A5: The Project Proposal

The drafting

provides the opportunity to bring together all the ideas and opinions expressed in the discussion. The project proposal should reflect the process of discussion, demonstrating how people were involved in developing the idea.
The written proposal provides us all with the opportunity to see precisely what is pro
posed, so that in the course of our daily lives we can think it over, reflect on it, and in due course be ready to give it our approval or further comment.

We must now

Draft the project proposal that informs everyone around us what is intended, and submit the funding request.

FIGURE Contributing the proposal.

Writing the proposal

In describing the proposal, draft it with someone in mind who has not visited the project and, therefore, has no first hand knowledge of the context in which we are working. This will guide us in what to say. Then let it lie while people involved with you comment on the draft. Also ask someone who is a regular letter writer to assist by pointing out where the proposal is not clear or needs further amplification.
To portray a single unified proposal in the written report is to betray the discussion that has lead thus far. Therefore, explain how the drawings were used to further the discussion and mention some of the alternatives that were examined.
The written project proposal is a very useful means of informing everyone about what is planned. Copies should be handed around and explained to our project board or executive committee (for outline approval), government, professional bodies, town councils (for building control), local Chiefs, and, of course, the people we are working with or who are involved.

Our Story -The proposal is almost ready for posting

Just as Dr John has finished with the last patient Fr Pierre looks in at the clinic. "I hear you want to see me," he says. "Yes," says Dr John, "I think we are almost at the stage where we can submit the project proposal to your funding organization. Today we have been completing the layout drawing and we have a draft of the budget and written content. Perhaps we can look through these now, and then I will have copies made for you."
"Here is the layout drawing," says Ralihaha. "You see that it makes a completely new clinic, for the nurses have done much of the planning." "What will it cost?" asks Fr Pierre. "Well," says Dr John, "this budget is based on using a contractor for the work in the clinic, and the overnight house is built by the village people. If your own men did the work, the cost would be greatly reduced. On the other hand, we have not discussed the building of the house with the Chief. So it gives us a bit of room in our negotiations. Once funding is agreed we can go into this and make a detail budget. We explain all this in the report."
"I have a letter," says Fr Pierre, "from my church back home. They now have a national funding set-up. They would be interested in seeing the proposal but comment that they do not fund building work on its own. It would have to be judged within the context of a development programme." "Yes," responds Dr John, "Mapalesa was just asking if we could relate the training of the village health workers to this. Also, you see how I have set out the role of the clinic as the health centre in preventive health care for the area. Perhaps we could give this a little more emphasis. The funding budget is in our local currency at the moment," says Dr John. "I suggest that the last figure is given in foreign currency, as a fall in the exchange rate would prejudice the project."
"Right," says Dr John, "I will complete the project proposal and let you have copies. I guess it may take some time before we hear anything."

FIGURE More discussion.

Topics to be covered by the proposal

1. Background The country, region, structure, etc. Your project and what it is doing. Why is the proposal necessary? How will it relate to your project? What else is being done locally?
2. How were the people involved
Was this preceded by a community awareness programme?
(Such as Training for Transformation, see Further Reading 25).
How did the idea originate?
What voice did people have in developing the idea?
Was there disagreement that would indicate a healthy discussion?
How can we be sure your ideas were not imposed on the people?
What other options were considered and then discarded?
3. Purpose What is the proposal designed to achieve? Detail the objectives. Who will benefit? How will it involve local people? Why are buildings necessary?
4. Implementation
How will you organize the construction?
How long will it take?
When do you expect to start and finish and to what does this relate?
How will local people play a part?
What will your project be providing?
Will the building be able to grow as people gain experience?
Is temporary accommodation necessary?
5. When it is built
How will the building be managed and maintained?
Who will work in it?
How will the running costs be financed?
What allowance is there for future reorganization?
6. The budget
Itemize and explain.
What is your contribution, in cash and in kind?
What will the local people provide?
Where are the furnishings and fittings to come from?
7. Financial control
How do you manage your accounts at present?
Would it help to have professional advice in setting up the project?
Funding organizations should consider it part of their duty to provide funds to employ a bookkeeper/accountant and training to ensure that the project has adequate control over expenditure. This provides invaluable experience for people at the project. (See Section B5.)
8. Running costs Will more staff have to be employed? Is more heat and light required? Is there increased income? Or how will this be paid for?
9. Training
Is there to be a handing-over of skills? What can be practically achieved? What courses are available to assist us?

Our Story -A visit by the funding organization
Fr Pierre has news quicker than anyone expected. Someone from the church funding organization is planning a field visit. They would be very interested to visit Mission Clinic. It's short notice, but they could fit it in between other visits in the region. There are a number of points that they wish to discuss. Please would he confirm that Dr John can be there, as well as the Community Builder, Ralihaha.
By good chance, the person from the funding organization arrives on the very day that the under-fives' clinic is being held. The clinic will be full of mothers, small children and babies. It is agreed that Fr Pierre go to the airport to meet the visitor, a Mrs White. It turns out that she herself worked in a third world country and so has quite a lot of first hand experience.
Ralihaha and Dr John are waiting at the clinic when Fr Pierre arrives with Mrs White. Nurse Lerato is busy in the clinic. Today she has organized things so that her assistant Mpho will see the children referred to the nurse. In this way Lerato can attend the meeting but be on call should she be needed.
Mrs White had a lot of questions to ask, especially about the origin of the clinic and how it grew to its present size and use. She starts asking Dr John about the type of diseases that are prevalent in the area. Her questions are obviously orientated towards how Mission Clinic fits in with the local health care needs of the people. Dr John has prepared himself well, and has all the statistics with him.
Mrs White is impressed that these are so readily available. She starts asking Nurse Lerato about the training of the village health workers. Is there need for continuing education? Ralihaha is given the opportunity to explain how things like the pit latrine will be built as models, so the experience gained in using them at the clinic can be used in the village situation.
"That's good," comments Mrs White. Had they thought about extending this to cover such things as spring protection? There was' she thought, opportunity to extend the work of the village health workers in this way. Maybe someone should be trained as a technician who could work with the village people, providing proper protection for the springs. She had seen such a scheme working as a co-operative in Kenya where the technician had been trained in the health care programme and then employed by the people in the co-operative. Cement and such materials were provided as part of the programme. Mapalesa liked this idea. "Can't we try something like that here'" she suggested. "Well'" says Mrs White, "I would like to invite you to extend your funding application to more than just the building. You have set it out very nicely within the context of the community health care programme. I would like to suggest you make this part of a three year programme, using the reconstruction of the clinic as a spring board to start the programme and provide its base,"
So the visit was considered a success, even though Dr John found himself with even more work. It was a chance for Mapalesa, however, to use her experience in the health care programme.

How to proceed
(a word from the grass roots)

It is sometimes difficult to know who to ask for funding. Therefore, a brief letter of enquiry should be circulated at an early stage to find out who would be interested in seeing the project proposal. This can save a lot of time and frustration all round. The letter should state that we are working to the techniques of community building laid out in this guide; people then know what to expect.
Buildings should always be seen as part of a programme of community development, never as something standing on their own. No organization should simply hand out money, for this creates great irresponsibility and waste. The funding organization should first request and study carefully the project proposal. This ensures that the homework has been properly considered and gives a good indication of the project's ability-to; successfully carry out the proposal. Funding organizations should not hesitate to draw on their experience and give advice, so long as this does not push alien concepts onto other cultures. They can, as a last resort say: yes we would like to fund your project, but not the proposal as it now stands. Give it more thought.


Check box
The funding organization
How are local people involved in the project?
What evidence is there that people were involved in the drawings?
Has the proposal been drafted WITH the people, or FOR them?
How can we be sure it reflects the feelings of the community?
Does the project have the ability to carry out the proposal?
Is financial accounting built-in?
Ask questions.

Quote -Development through liberation

"What our countries in poor groups need is the type of development that is not modelled on that of the richer countries and regions. Indeed, a major element in the real development of the poor is that the rich should be stopped from imposing misdevelopment on the world. The notion of liberation through development needs to be complemented by that of development through liberation. There are many other ways in which international aid agencies can support our struggle. Apart from giving money for specific projects they should be with the poor masses in their struggle for liberty and social justice. In giving aid to poor people or countries certain principles must be adhered to.
First of all, no financial aid can be completely apolitical or politically neutral. No compassion or charity can ignore the social and political structures of the countries or beneficiaries. Aid can be used as a convenient way of condoning an oppressive and unjust system. In some ways such aid can positively support the status quo. Now if I were asked to give some advice in this matter of development and aid I would tell donors that, one, they should support those projects or organizations or movements who are committed to this liberation of the oppressed social classes.


Two, their aid should go directly to the people and must be controlled by the people who benefit from such aid.
Three, under no circumstances should funding agencies channel their assistance through Government or state institutions, particularly where these institutions are undemocratic, racist, unpopular or oppressive.
Four, before aid is given, there should be clear evidence that the beneficiaries are committed to the struggle for liberation and social change. And by liberation and social change I mean the fundamental transformation of the social order instead of superficial reforms.
Five, the downtrodden and marginalized people should not be comforted in their poverty, on the contrary, they should be challenged to resist and to transform a system which crushes and exploits them."
Father Smangaliso Mkhatshwa, Gilbert Murray Lecture, Oxford, February 1985.