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3. Outlining the Community Action Planning Process

As explained above, the Orientation Workshop also considered the various objectives of the preparatory phase and how the field appraisal would play a role in achieving these objectives. It was agreed that the field appraisal should be the first step in a process whereby the communities together with the community support organisations are empowered to identify their problems, analyse their causes, outline opportunities for improvement, and to plan, implement, monitor and evaluate community-based activities.

The field appraisal allows communities to take an active role in the initial identification and analysis of problems and opportunities for development. However, the actual project planning and formulation would need to be carried out at a higher level for obvious reasons of logistics, time, etc.

The exclusion of the communities from the actual project planning process has major implications for the scope of the project proposal itself. On the one hand, the project proposal should provide a common reference point for project implementation, monitoring and evaluation. On the other hand, the project document should also provide enough flexibility to allow optimal community participation and ownership and enable the project to respond to community needs when they arise. In order to reach a healthy balance between both objectives, the project proposal will need to focus on:

1. developing an appropriate strategy and an institutional framework required to facilitate and support a continued community-based action planning process whereby communities will define broad directions for development actions in their “Community Action Plans”;

2. ensuring support in terms of technical assistance, training, infrastructure, funding, etc. needed for communities, community based organisations and groups and community support staff to plan and implement specific “Micro-Projects” within the framework of the “Community Action Plans”;

3. allocating funds to broadly defined activities within the framework of a “Community Development Fund” for funding of micro-projects, without hampering the community action planning and implementation process by overly detailed specific activities other than those needed to ensure proper facilitation at all stages of the community action planning and implementation process;

4. empowering communities through application of a capacity building strategy that goes beyond pure funding of micro-projects but which will also allow for strengthening specific community based organisations, while taking into account relevant horizontal and vertical organisational and institutional linkages;

5. facilitating and supporting the actions that are taken by communities and community support organisations (governmental and non-governmental) to ensure that activities can be sustained beyond the duration of the project;

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