• Community development is a process by which efforts of people is united with those of outside agencies to improve the living standards among communities and to integrate them with the life of the nation.
  • The aim of community development is to organize people for planning and action.
  • Community participation is the voluntary and democratic involvement of people in the decisions directly affecting their lives and development.
  • Community participation is the involvement that may be complete or incomplete. Community participation is whereby community take part in having a share of all partaking of the project.


Steps used in determining and establishing community participation in needs

Assessment and decision making process

Entry into the community

  • Communities are complex and dynamic and people might seem simple from outside but different when it seems to understanding their needs and interest in an interaction.

 Listen to the people

  • Their concerns, what they have done before, what they are trying to do, their feelings, hopes and expectations. You need to establish a dialogue with the people but do not give an answer to the problems since you are not a savior.

Talk to the people

  • Tell them who you are, why are you there, what you want out of them and communicate your presence.

Gain acceptability and influence

  • This is by being patient and friendly with them and also by participating in their daily life activities.

Let the community identify and prioritize their needs

  • This can be facilitated through an open discussion. Do not make decisions for them but only help them to state the actions.

Set goals

  • Let them set the goals and how they are going to respond to them. Your duty is to make sure they put it under practice.

The community should be let to decide on how to accomplish the goal

  • Let them decide where to get the local materials and resources. You also need to respect their ideas, culture and opinions and also propose your involvement.

Start planning the project together

  • Start by setting the steps to be taken. Also answer the questions of who does what, when, where and how
  • Attach the resources needed to accomplish each step.

Write a project proposal

  • Communicate in the document for the community members to donors what is required. The proposal should contain the goal, action and plans of the community.

Importance of Community Participation in Project Development and Management

It ensures sustainability of projects.

  • Sustainable development requires support and at the local level. This calls for active involvement of the community in the project and activities intended to benefit its members.


  • Involvement of the community at all stages of development encourages ownership of project.

Self reliance

  • Through participation, people develop self reliance. People begin to do something about their problem.


  • Community participation ensures that people work in partnership with government to achieve meaningful development.

Resource mobilization

  • Resources can easily mobilize when communities are committed and involved.

Development of community institutions

  • Community institutions continue to develop as the project continues to produce other benefits. Development cannot be adequately supported outside community that is what local members need to participate.

Distribution and benefits

  • It ensures equitable distribution of benefits in favor of the economically weak groups.
  • It allows for the design of development projects that are realistic to satisfy the needs of the people.
  • Communities have power in decision making and participating can bring pressure or comply with decisions
  • It helps community members to become aware of their problems.


Process of Participation

  • The process of participation follows a cycle of events and community members need to participate. Steps followed include:-
  • Identify the needs and seek ways and means to meet the need in community decisions i.e. Listen more than you talk
  • Set priorities among the action and need listed
  • Decide on plan of action based on what each need requires and involves
  • Implementation
  • Have an in built check list and balance for easy flow of the plan considering the budget and time check.
  • Evaluate the program based on achievements considering the pros and cons constraints and success.

Areas of Involvement

Community members should be involved in the following areas:-

  • Conception of the project: community members know exactly what they want for themselves in terms of development project.
  • Mobilization of local resources
  • Labour provision: this reduces the cost of project implementation
  • Decision making: the community should participate in making key decisions about the project that will affect their lives
  • Monitoring and evaluation: the community should be key stakeholders in monitoring and evaluation process of their projects.


Community Participation in Resource Mobilization

This can be done in different ways:-

  • Identify the resources required to undertake the project and project activities.
  • Establishing the nature and volume of resources that are available within the locality
  • Determine the resource deficit by comparing the required resources with the available resources.
  • Put measures in place to mobilize locally available resources and finally look for resources from the external.


When Is Community Participation Desirable

  • In very poor economies where local government have insufficient fund to provide basic services, there is little likelihood of resources being diverted to away from the community.
  • When a project being produced directly have effect on the welfare of the community. Community participation also involves planning and implementation of local projects.
  • As a form of raising awareness such as, health care by drawing peoples attention to need for personnel hygiene.
  • As an end in itself especially in the form of meeting when they help to reduce internal community tensions and when they increase consciousness towards a problem or a potential solution.


When is community participation un-desirable?

  • Participation should not be stimulated when it is quite clear that people do not want to participate. There may be good reasons for their situation i.e. cultural reasons.
  • It is undesirable when it diverts resources away from the community especially if it is in form of self help.
  • It is undesirable when it involves already busy people in long hours of meeting or work especially where there are no real benefits to be gained from such meetings. What is essential is a potential forum to contribute ideas or get some channel for complaints when need arises.
  • It can be questionable when the purpose of increasing community involvement is really intended to increase support for a political party or government regime
  • It is undesirable if community participation is used as a form of money collection machinery e.g in the Harambee system exploitation may be the outcome as money collected are misappropriated or used for some function that will benefit only few in the community.


Characteristics of Community Participation

  1. Community participation is encouraged by the government
  2. It increases resources but also places more demands on government
  3. It improves decision making
  4. It develops best under conditions of conflict
  5. It makes used of under-employed resources
  6. Undemocratic, authoritation leadership is effective in stimulating community participation
  7. Leaders can be relied upon to represent the interests of their community


Obstacles of Community Participation

  1. Conflict of interest among the target groups
  2. Difficulties in organizing and mobilizing community
  3. Policy makers not respecting the real community needs
  4. Local power hierarchies and elite domination
  5. The way the productive resources are distributed in the target area
  6. Heterogeneous socio-cultural, economic and technical background of community members
  7. Communication problem that may hinder planning and implementation of projects at the local level.
  8. Illiteracy of community members


Objectives of Community Participation


  • Involves sharing power, raising awareness and strength of the target group. To allow the target groups to initiate actions on their own so as to influence the processes and outcome of development.

To build beneficiary capacity

  • Sharing in management task. E.g monitoring to ensure sustainability that enhances the level of beneficiary interests and competence in project management.

To increase project effectiveness

  • This is the degree to which a given project achieves its objectives. Better project design matches project services with beneficiary needs and constraints.

Cost sharing

  • A beneficiary contribution in terms of labour, money, maintenance etc community participation facilitates a collective understanding and agreement on cost sharing and its enforcement.

To improve project efficiency:  timely beneficiary inputs reduce delay.


Level of Community Participation

  • Information sharing:  to facilitate action, equipment, beneficiaries to undertake and perform task better.
  • Consultation:  to facilitate beneficiary interaction and feedback
  • Decision making:  in matter of design and implementation providing support for joint decision making
  • Initiation action:  actions/decisions on a project
  • Supporting independent committee’s interests

Forms of Community Participation In Project Development Management

  • Individuals:  individuals participate in the activity because of their interests and expectations and benefits
  • Communities:  community can participate in the project through committees. These selections determines their ability to identify better with the community problems or feelings
  • Groups:  groups can be organized at the village level to participate in the project
  • Leaders:  leaders can mobilize the community to participate in projects. They must be able to understand what the community wants.



P        People centred not project centred

A        Arises from people not imposed from outside

R        Reflects the underlying social norms

T        Transfers decisions making to the ultimate beneficiaries

I         Involve majority not a selected few

C        Consultation not correction based on actions

I         Inclusive of all phases of developed projects

P        Positive rather than negative response

A        Allows for feasibility wherever possible

T        Translates local ideas into activities

I         Institutional strengthening

O        Organizationally simple rather than complex

N        Natural rather than artificial


Factors to Determine Community Participation

  1. Type of community
  2. Needs/problem under consideration
  3. Community involvement right from the beginning
  4. Level of community awareness
  5. Existing government policies
  6. Relations of the community and developing agencies
  7. Attitude of change
  8. Population composition
  9. Community mobility
  10. Seasonal calendars i.e. the activities that are done at an appropriate time and place.

Project Parameters (Components of the Project)

  • In the course of the project life, focus is on 3 issues or parameters i.e. Quality, cost and time i.e. Quality of man power involved and delivery of services.
  • Cost – budget allocation as time focus on start to finish.


  • With quality we are assured that the project will do what was supposed to be done on completion. This implies that quality dimensions have to be involved e.g
  • Identify means of verifying quality e.g through testing
  • Setting performances standards to be met
  • Specifying the types of materials to be used
  • Specifying the type of personnel to be involved
  • The above is arrived at by breaking the work into small and manageable units.


  • Projects have to be completed within the shortest time possible. After breaking the work into manageable units and determining the sequence of activities/events from the 1st to last: a portion time for each of them. We determine the duration of each step i.e. Time with each step is likely to complete.


  • This is dependent on time. The cost of items will vary with time for proper estimates the work breakdown and schedule and time schedule should be used. While budgeting, care should be taken so that there is no over-estimation. To avoid wastage, diversion of funds and chasing a way sponsors.
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