Innovative Development Approach for Community Development

Towards Sustainable Development Goals through Participatory and Holistic Approach at Family Level

If we take a look at on Human Development, none can be completely satisfied with the outcomes of the Development Projects carried out by the Government or Non-Government agencies during the past few decades. Neglecting the projects initiated by the former Government, different kind of new development projects functioning as Gramashakthi, Gamperaliya and similar projects have been introduced by the Present Government instead of continuing the preceding projects. Whatever the project, simply the objectives and the target groups are the same. Formerly, Janasaviya, Samurdhi movement, IRDP Projects, Line Department Projects, Dormer funded project also targeted the unprivileged social groups. Therefore we believe, it should be a fundamental matter of present development scenario to find out the causes for the failure of past projects and to learn lessons before scheduling new projects.

As an NGO with the vision of Inclusive and Vibrant Communities for Sustainable Development, we observed the outcomes achieved through former projects targeted the unprivileged groups and came across the following shortcomings.

  1. Non sustainability of projects – systems are not extended towards sustainable development. In case of turning the Government or shifting the funding agency from the area, the ongoing projects also get disappeared. They have not become the community projects.
  2. Lack of holistic development approach in implementing the project activities.
  3. Most of the projects aimed infrastructure development rather than human development.
  4. Real participatory approach had not been followed in identifying & implementing the project.
  5. Lack of proper supervision.
  6. Definite goals have not been identified.


Participatory approach and the sustainability of the activities

Having identified the above mentioned shortcomings we concentrate developing new approaches towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals introduced by United Nations. On experimental base we are planning to develop a model village at family level. We have selected a very rural village called ‘Therunnansegama’ in Embilipitiya Divisional Secretariat Division in Ratnapura District. All the inhabitants are farmers and their major productions are based on agriculture. Lands have been awarded by the Government. SAPSRI initiated issuing Micro finance loans to the farmers to get their lives succeeded and they are benefited by our credit programme through an effective CBO established in the village. For over 4 years they have been promoted by our credit programme but still they depend on us with further loans.

We conducted a Participatory Rural Appraisal to identify the problems and the resources available for their development. 100 family members participated in three day PRA and identified the following 9 major issues.

  1. Lack of pure drinking water for all families. There is a single water supply scheme in the village. Since the water is directly taken from the river Walawe without purifying, it is not in a suitable condition for drinking.
  2. Lack of educational facilities including teachers to the school in the village.
  3. Lack of sufficient water for cultivations.
  4. Lack of sufficient income for some families.
  5. Lack of proper health facilities.
  6. Unemployment among the youth.
  7. Poor condition of agricultural roads and access road to the village.
  8. Lack of proper transport facilities.
  9. Usage of alcohol by some family members.

Having identified the above problems with the participation of the community, we as groups visited the selected 100 families to observe the standard of their lifestyle. During these visits we have identified the following two issues as well.

10. Non-renewal of land deeds and permits after the death of owner
11. Lack of proper housing facilities

Having considered the above issues we developed a Rural Development Plan based on the Participatory Holistic Development Strategy and targeting 12 SDGs to work out the issues. While coordinating as a facilitating agency at national level, we formed 5 committees of community leaders to get their involvement in finding out solutions for these problems with the assistance of the respective public organizations. We personally met National & Provincial Heads of respective agencies and guided the community leaders to meet Divisional Heads. It should become the responsibility of community leaders to continue these services. So far we have achieved very successful results.

  1.  The Director General of Department of Community water supply has agreed to provide purifying facilities if it is feasible. He is waiting for the feasibility report. The respective Committee of community leaders will have to coordinate this issue.
  2. Attention of the Provincial Secretary to the Ministry of Education is drawn by us for facilities of the school and the progress is being reviewed by the respective committee.
  3. The Mahaweli Authority is the responsible organization for the problem no. 3,6,7 & 10. They have already provided sufficient water for cultivations, agreed to develop agricultural roads, agreed to conduct a mobile programme to renew land titles and to provide vocational training for youth. In addition to these services they agreed to include this village into their ‘Dehemi Village’ Programme. The respective committee will follow-up.
  4. Samurdhi Department has already allocated Rs. 400,000/= for the livelihood development activities for issue no. 4.
  5. We met Provincial Director – Health Services and he agreed to develop the Health Center, Thunkama.
  6. A request has been made to SLTB to extend the bus services up to the end of the village. They have responded positively.
  7. Responding to our request, National Housing Authority agreed to provide housing loans.

Since the respective community leaders communicate with the divisional level officers the sustainability of the project will be safeguarded. These projects were maintained formerly by the funding agencies or the public officers but they were not sustainable. With this approach we present our involvement at the beginning and handed over the sustainable supervision to the respective community leaders.


Attention on Human Development rather than Infrastructure Development

Majority of the projects implemented previously had paid its attention to infrastructure development rather than the human development. Therefore we suppose extra attention should be paid on the development of individual families towards SDG. We selected 100 families for the pilot project and guided them towards achieving the SDG. These 100 families were divided among 20 community leaders as it includes 5 families per each leader. Having conducted series of workshops with consultants the guidelines were prepared by us to be followed by them to achieve SDG. These guidelines have been distributed among the families and we conducted a workshop to explain the guidelines. It contains a marking scheme in this guidebook. These families have to score marks monthly and leaders have to observe the status. Our expectation is them to score full marks during the 12 months time. After one year’s time we wish to evaluate the progress and to reward the families who have fulfilled all the requirements according to the guide book. All the aspects of family development are included in these guidelines. These 100 families have been allocated to 10 public officers of the Divisional Secretariat for the proper monitoring.


Goal Orientation

The goals of a development project should aim the public requirements. Most of our past projects did not have such sort of specific goals. For the wellbeing of the public we must develop infrastructure facilities. However the efforts may be useless, if the mere infrastructure facilities do not preserve the human development. We identified the clear goals to be achieved by the public. Since UN supposes all communities should reach these goals, the rural communities should also be guided to achieve them. We have conducted workshops and 17 SDGs have been categorized into following 6 groups to develop indicators to measure the progress. The intellectuals of the Public and Private sectors were included into these groups and conducted workshops & developed indicators.

Group 1

A. No Poverty
B. Decent Work and Economic Growth
C. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
D. Responsible Consumption

Group 2

A. Zero Hunger
B. Good Health and Well-Being
C. Clean Water and Sanitation
D. Life on the Land

Group 3

A. Quality Education
B. Decent Work and Economic Growth
C. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
D. Reduce Inequalities

Group 4

A. Affordable and Clean Energy
B. Climate Action
C. Life below Water
D. Life on Land

Group 5

A. Good Health and Well-Being
B. Quality Education
C. Gender Equality
D. Decent Work and Economic Growth
E. Reduced Inequalities

Group 6

A. Affordable and Clean Energy
B. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
C. Sustainable Cities and Communities
D. Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Indicators were prepared by each group based on the above goals. Our family guidelines were organized using the above indicators. All the development activities will be identified in relation to the achievement of these indicators.

Holistic Development Approach

We have identified our traditional development approach is lateral but not holistic. All the public officers are appointed from different Departments and duties are assigned by Heads of Departments. Separate officers are responsible for different sectors of each household.

Example: An officer appointed from the Foreign Employment Bureau is visiting houses to seek women with foreign employment requirements but no concentration given for other related matters like pregnancies, disabilities, children with mental disorders, aged people and other dependents who need the assistance of DS officers. A different officer has to monitor such cases and no particular officer responsible for a whole family.

Accordingly, the model of Holistic Development Approach is introduced by us to make out a holistic difference from the community. The community leader has to monitor all the requirements of families for which he is responsible. With the agreement of Divisional Secretary we wish to appoint 10 public officers including 5 village level officers to observe the families. 100 families are expected to divide into 10 groups and each officer to be appointed for each group of families. The respective officer will be looking after their families with the assistance of 2 community leaders. Whatever the problem observed, he can draw the attention of the respective officer.


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