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The time for new idea to pick up in any community depends on the community’s characteristics.
1. In any community, there are those who pick up a new idea instantly and are the first to chance its implementation. These are known as EALY INNOVATORS.
2. The majorities in the community simply watch and see what is happening. They are known as FOLLOWERS. They wait until they see results from early innovators.
3. The last category is known as LAGGARDS. These never care about new ideas. They oppose everything unless it is their idea. Regarding the characteristic of the community, refer to the diagram below.
Advantages of Community Participation in Health Programme:
- Better results of the activity
- Strengthen the sense of accountability, as they will have voice in the running of the services.
- Imparts to the Community sense of ownership of the project.
- It promotes self reliance and self determination.
- It discourages dependency.
- It promotes sustainability.
- The program utilizes both human and non-human resources available in the programme area thus lowering the cost.
- Cultural aspects which can undermine the programme can be explored
- Implementation is accelerated due to joint morale and rich workforce
- Creativity is stimulated
- Cohesiveness (Co-operation) is enhanced as the community engages in time-to time dialogues.
- The community can also build on experiences gained to tackle other social problems in the area e.g. water project, school construction, putting up laboratories for science subjects.
- Clears suspicion because there is full involvement and transparency
- It enhances inter-sectoral collaboration as extension workers from district council, Division, and rest of community members who have different talents from Wards Development Committee and Village Council join hands.
- Enables community to identify their strength and weakness. Anything communities attempt and succeed gives them confidence of trying other self-help projects.
- Promotion of Community Participation is practising Human Right and justice and democracy.
Strategies for promoting/improving Community Participation:
There are several ways in which transformational participation can be initiated in health and development activities:
- The health staff as change agent and animator has to know very well the community, its resources, social structures and values.
- Valuing the community’s culture.
- The rapport should be established and community health needs collectively identified for joint community-based planning. The Obstacles and Opportunity to Development (O&OD) Approach to Planning advocated by District Councils is the most appropriate tool to use
- Formation of Joint steering committee, transparency and two-way communication between chosen leadership.
- Training to improve competence of those involved in new roles. This is capacity building.
- Motivating the community e.g. provision of badges, certificates after training, making follow up of trained community members promotes a working relationship. Refresher courses have also motivated community members to do their roles.
- Pay attention to the minority who may show resentment when they are by-passed and ignored several times. They become discouraged and become detached from the whole process. They should be encouraged to do whatever small they can because it brings inward satisfaction and sense of belonging.
- Exchange of visits between communities to facilitate learning from community to community can also improve the performance of health programmes in the community. It transfers skills and knowledge.
Factors that hindering/limit Community Participation:
- Lack of transparency and accountability on the part of the programme facilitators. This may de-motivate the communities
- Animator’s Failure to value the culture of the community.
- Poor leadership and power struggle. Communities’ efforts are deviated.
- Gender sensitivity e.g. some communities do not appreciate the role of the opposite sex in a given role.
- Unfavourable weather conditions which may be accompanied with food shortage and reduced working capacity.
- Lack of resources in the community – leads to inability to make contributions
- Poor approaches – which can lead to not achieving needed outputs.
- Poverty – especially absolute poverty which associated with deprivation of elements necessary to sustain life and health, such as adequate food, safe drinking water, shelter, land, employment and personal security. Absolute poor are more likely to keep returning to all state of poverty despite improvements in society.
- Laggards negative influences to non- critical members of the community who do not stand firm to improve their conditions.