Consulting village leaders to promote participatory community development
URF promotes community-centered development and we believe that there can be no success in any community project without the participation of the people. The people have to feel a sense of ownership of the development process and take charge of defining needs, identifying solutions, and setting priorities for their communities.
We partitioned villages we serve into zones. A zone may comprise of two to four neighboring villages. The idea is that these communities can share common resources. Each zone elected a URF Zone Committee and the members act as liaisons between URF and the community. Together they form a consulting body for URF on project design and implementation.
This summer of 2012, we called this group together for consultation on a proposed water project – building a dam. We invited zone committee members from all the villages that URF serves to discuss water needs in their communities and determine which zone has the most urgent need for water.
We had earlier visited all wells in each zone. So, the decision was based on which well dries out faster in the drought season and the residents have to walk long distances to the next source of water. A consensus was reached that Lwetamu zone has the urgent water crisis. If the project becomes a reality, the dam will serve 8 surrounding villages.
This careful assessment and decision would not have been possible if we did not consult these zone leaders. Their input is invaluable. They know the community better and we trust in their wisdom to understand the bigger problems of their communities and solutions that are locally viable.