Community Empowerment/Introduction to CE

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Introduction to Community Empowerment
How to Use It
by Phil Bartle

Welcome to the Community Empowerment Web Site
This is a "cafeteria-style" collection of training material intended to assist you in helping low-income communities (and their people) to overcome poverty. It emphasizes methods and principles, not theory.

This is not a commercial site; the material is provided here for free as a public service. Copyright is CC by SA donated by Phil Bartle (do not plagiarise).

Many training documents on this site are deliberately kept short, and are designed for you to print and use as handouts at training sessions for community field workers. Others are longer and can be used as reference.

Many black and white drawings are provided which can also be used to illustrate the written training material. You may also translate the text into local languages, and attach the drawings to your own training material.

Because paper and ink are relatively expensive, it would be out of financial range to produce enough hard copies of the required training material for every rural village and urban neighbourhood in every least developed nation on this globe. It is financially feasible, however, that eventually every human settlement (from rural village to urban neighbourhood) will get access to the InterNet. That realization lies behind the motivation of producing this series of training modules on this InterNet site ( The elimination of poverty can be a realistic global goal, with the combination of (1) these methods and (2) the world wide web.

Who Should Use this Site?
First and foremost, this set of training material is aimed at the community worker in the field. It is for practical training and is not intended to be academic nor is it highly technical. All together, the documents add up to a comprehensive introductory textbook about community empowerment.

Unlike a printed textbook, however, you can pick and choose any combination of topics that best help you, and you can, at the click of a mouse, jump immediately to related topics. (That is the reason for the term "Cafeteria-Style" training). If you are training community field workers, then you can download any combination of these documents onto your hard drive, and print them out as you need them for handouts and for reference material. If you are already a long-term experienced field worker, this set of material can be used as a reference. If you are planning a community programme, a technical assistance programme or a project that has a community element, then these documents provide a source of details to include in your planning process.

If you are managing, supervising or administering a programme focussed on community capacity development, or one that has a community strengthening component, this will aid you in understanding the methods and principles used by your staff, and therefore aid you in co-ordinating them. If you are a student or a researcher, this can be a source of materials on methods and principles (but it is not a source of academic or research materials). See the ISS research.

If you are operating a web site and wish to copy some of this material, please ask first, explain the reason, identify the author, and ensure you include a link back to this site:

What is Not Included Here
If you are looking for project funds, this site will not provide them. There are, however, a few guidelines here to assist you in making your grant applications elsewhere.

If you are doing research on past projects, activities or programmes, or on those currently in process, you will not find raw data here. See the ISS research, however, for research material. Except for the ISS research, the focus here is on "how to" and why for field workers, not "what happened" for researchers. For more scholarly documents, see Sociology.

The purpose is to impart skills and the understanding of principles lying behind those skills ¾ to community workers. The site therefore deliberately and consciously avoids "examples."

Core Topics on this Site
On a web site that has over five thousand training documents, there is a wide range of topics - all within the list of skills and principles needed by the community worker. A few highlights can be mentioned here.

The key documents are focussed on methods of mobilizing and organizing communities, community groups and organizations, and on management training methods to strengthen them. The overall approach is participatory and there are several documents on "rapid participatory appraisal," "learning by doing," and other participatory approaches. Many of these fall within the mobilization cycle.

While wealth is far more than money, poverty is far more than the lack of money; as a social problem it calls for social –not individual– solutions. There are several topics on income generation (real wealth creation, not cash transfers to temporarily alleviate specific problems).

Substantive topics include those such as "Gender" and "Monitoring," while methodological topics include those such as "Role Playing," "Participatory Approaches," and "Story Telling." The topics have been organized and are categorized and presented to you on the "Modules" page. You are encouraged alternatively to browse through all the topics listed on the Site Map, choosing those that best meet your needs.

Types of Pages:
As this web site was designed, all the original documents were installed as hyper text markup language (HTML) with .htm as file suffixes. This allowed many internal hyper links to be made between the documents, for reference to words used in community work.

Several of the documents have been converted to Power Point Presentation (.pps), and more are anticipated. Write to request them by name. Because of numerous requests the documents are being converted to text documents (.txt), and are almost all completed. Some of the text documents have been joined together in a single module, and presented as MS Word documents (.doc). Longer, stand-alone web pages have been uniquely converted to Word rather than combined with others in a particular module.

Because .txt types of documents are not in hypertext (ie not web pages) you can link to them, but must use your browser's [Back] button to exit them. You can download these to your own computer by using the "Save_as" button on your browser.

The documents were written originally in English. They were drafted over a forty year period, and designed to be used in many countries, and to be translated into local languages. The author worked and lived in many countries, especially in Africa and Asia. A few were translated on an ad hoc basis by friends and colleagues.

Would you like to volunteer?
This is a pro bono (unpaid; donated), voluntary site. If you wish to volunteer your time and energy to translate even a single document, into any language, then your service will be much appreciated.

Several practitioners and specialists have volunteered to add to this web site by preparing documents which are published on this site. These can be found on the Site Map, listed as "Guest Papers." You are also invited to send a guest document on any related topic.

How to Use the Site:
There are many ways you can use this site and its training material.

You can read the material directly from your computer, using the hyper links to follow any topic to related topics. You can download the material for later use at another computer, or for printing it. To save money, turn off the colour features on your printer, and print the documents in black and white. These are better for photocopying to use as handouts in seminars and workshops, or to keep as printed references.

You may find many more creative ways to use this site. Its content is varied and rich.

You are requested to avoid plagiarism (copying material and claiming it for your own). Please acknowledge the source (Dr Phil and this site's internet address) in any material you circulate.

You are invited to send question, or begin a dialogue on any topic related to the site content. Please also send an email message to indicate how you are using the material (no payment is made to the web master; your feedback is the main source of rewards).

All the documents may be downloaded and printed without charge –you are requested to acknowledge the source and inform the web master how you are using them (your feedback is our only reward). Libraries, research organizations and institutions should contribute.



Links to Further Resources:

Basic Community Work

Participatory Appraisal
The Brainstorm
Participatory Management 2
Gender Balance
Community Project Design
Community Resources
Income Generation
Building a Credit Organization
Micro Enterprise Training
Measuring Community Strength
Monitoring and Evaluation
Report Writing

Advanced Community Work

Managing Mobilization
Community Research
Water Supply
Non Material Community Development
Capacity Development
Promoting an Enabling Environment
After the Disaster


Sociological Perspectives
Three Classical Sociologists
Cultural Dimensions 2
Social Inequality
Sociology of Community
Family and Kinship
Socialization and Education
Crime and Deviance
Culture Change
Sociological Research

Akan Studies

Akan Studies
Akan Religion
Oil Palm
Akan Gender
Akan History and Social Change
Kwawu Maps
Kwawu/Akan Social Organization

Teaching Methods

Training Methods
Teaching Reading Skills
Functional Literacy
Management Training
Learning an Unwritten Language
Errors in Writing