Saturday, February 09, 2008

Community empowerment goes out of track?

Lots of community empowerment projects claim their programs as the real empowerment of community. By practicing Participatory Rural Appraisal and its tools, they think that they have empowered the community.
But before going too far talking about community empowerment, let’s discuss about the term “community empowerment” first. What does this term mean? After having some observations, I concluded that community empowerment is a condition when community has gained their self confidence and being independent. In this condition, the community will try to find the issue they have and try to solve it using any resources they own.
It doesn’t mean that community has no need any assistance. In some occasion, an empowered community still needs outsider, especially when the resources they have are not enough to overcome the issue.
What happen nowadays in Indonesia? Many community empowerment projects address the community without even knowing what the real needs of community are. They come to community with their own perception, hence the empowerment project they held will never really touch the community because the facts are undiscovered. Most of the projects will finally create project dependant community instead of the independent community. That is why the community will always think that every outsider who visits them is the guy who will provide them financial aid. If you come to community and try to list how many households in poverty are, you’ll find almost all of the community confesses that they are poor.
Community empowerment can happen naturally and in some conditions, it needs outsider to accelerate the process. The outsider is called facilitator. The real facilitator will absolutely observe and discuss with the community on the actual situation and there will be no perception brought during discussion because once perception is brought, the facts in the community could never be found. The other mistake which can be done by a facilitator is bringing fund to community without knowing whether community is ready to receive the fund or not. It will lead to fund misusing or fund oriented community. I don’t say that community doesn’t need any financial aid, but it should be adjusted with community need. Too much fund will spoil the community whilst actually they have a lot of resources that they don’t realize. It is a duty of facilitator to create community awareness about their hidden resources and discuss with them on how to optimize them.
Let us ask to community empowerment facilitator. Have they ever visited a single village on their own initiative and not supported by project? I am sure every facilitator has their own answers. And I will not give comment on it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

uih kereeren tuh cipu.. helps them to help themselves