Catalyzing development dynamic

Rural community development, particularly among the disadvantaged sector, implies a change in the attitudes of the community. Experience accumulated by the Institute of Cultural Affairs International (ICA) is that this can be accomplished by a catalytic agent who approaches the community with an open mind, establishes rapport by living with the villagers and adopts their idiom and life style. This catalyst can initiate activities which bring about human resources development through a process of sensitizing, dissemination of knowledge and providing necessary skills through appropriate functional education and training. The catalyst can organize activity in the community, for instance by forming a village development committee or by establishing the community fund which will enhance their capacities in order to build up and sustain self-reliance. Also a catalyst needs to encourage the most effective use of local resources available, for example, the use of natural fertilisers and crop rotation for better yields.

A catalyst can also act as an intermediary between the community and different agencies by initiating developmental projects, monitoring and evaluating them until the community is able to take over. While initiating development projects, the catalyst should gradually transfer responsibility to the community. To assist this process, the catalyst can play a dynamic role in bringing about necessary changes in social attitudes which are limiting self-development, particularly of primitive communities. This can be done by discerning value systems, even introducing an element of 'agitation/ resistance' (creative confrontation).

The catalytic dynamic in development reinforces the community's confidence that it is in charge of its own destiny. Some projects judge their success not only by visible accomplishments, but also by such intangibles as reducing dependency. One indicator of the success of the project is the withdrawal of the catalytic agent when the community is able to deal with its own problems with courage and determination. The community has then outgrown the need for direction.

For change to happen, there has to be an event to change the course of the community and wake people up to their possibility. This may be an outside influence or an event within the community. The catalytic agent can be either an outsider or a neighbour or a field demonstration. Once the value of change is shown, people are quite ready to accept it for themselves.
Type Classification:
F: Exceptional strategies