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This resource book shows how group promoters (GPs) can help men and women in rural communities to join together and work to improve their income and living conditions. It presents a participatory approach in which GPs play a key role. Their task is to help the poor to form sustainable self-help groups and undertake income-generating activities.

Why focus on forming groups?

By working in groups, rather than as individuals, the rural poor are able to combine and make best use of their skills and resources. They can exchange views and ideas and choose the best options. Working together makes work lighter and easier. Most important of all, a group has more bargaining power than an individual.

Why focus on small groups?

Small groups of less than 20 persons usually work better than larger groups. This is because members get to know and trust each other and tend to work more closely and with fewer formalities.

Why focus on income generation?

Poor people usually organize themselves as a group in order to increase their income. This is an important objective: higher incomes allow members to satisfy their needs and also to invest in other productive activities. In addition, working together in income generation is a good way for the members to learn to cooperate and achieve other goals.

Who should use this resource book?

The resource book has been designed and written mainly for group promoters, extension workers and development project staff. You can take it with you into the villages and use it directly in planning and conducting group meetings. The resource book may also be useful in the training of group promoters.

How is the resource book organized?

The resource book is divided into three sections.

Section 1 describes the group promoter’s functions and working methods, and basic participatory learning methods:

Chapter 1: The role of a group promoter
Chapter 2: Working methods of a group promoter
Chapter 3: Using participatory learning methods

Section 2 describes key steps in building self-help groups of the rural poor:

Chapter 1: Group formation
Chapter 2: Inter-group associations
Chapter 3: Income generation
Chapter 4: Participatory monitoring and evaluation (PMOE)
The Annexes contain participatory learning and participatory rural appraisal techniques, as well as a list of publications and addresses for further information on the self-help group approach.

How to use the resource book

Newly appointed GPs are urged to study Section 1 before taking up duties in the field.

Section 2 provides practical, step-by-step suggestions for the GP on how to form groups and how to help them increase their income and attain self-reliance. For each step, you will find guidelines with suggestions on how to proceed and what methods to use. You should adjust the suggestions and methods to suit the local situation and the customs of your people.

Techniques described in Annexes 1 and 2 should be studied and used during various phases of group development.

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