Sharing development responsibility

When rural infrastructure inputs (such as water supplies, roads, irrigation, health and education) are discussed at the macro level they need to be segmented. When development occurs however, it affects the life of rural people or there is no reason for it. Here there is an organic unity, not segmentation. The three objectives therefore must be understood as three closely interlinked facets. They are so closely interlinked that one cannot be talked of without consideration of the other two.

From the perspective of shared responsibility, activities that increase economic self dependence call for greater assumption of risk of the consequences on the part of members of the group. This greater assumption of risk requires a new level of responsibility shared among the people, or shared responsibility. This will not happen if they have a limited sense of themselves as competent, worthwhile individuals or communities. From the perspective of economic self-dependence, shared responsibility is an abstract concept unless related to actual decisions about the community. Self-identity cannot be given expression unless the group decides who it is and what it is about doing and allocates resources from that view point.

From the perspective of self-identity, shared responsibility will be meaningless if the people are unable to see what binds them together as a people. Self-dependence collapses into individual family pursuits of material gain unless there is an understanding that links those people together in efforts toward a common objective.

The arena of shared responsibility/shared leadership is central to any development effort whatever the content of the programme. Although formal and informal training programmes will contribute greatly, there is more to it than just leadership development. Shared responsibility/shared leadership is essential to sustainable growth and improvements in the community. Every programme can contribute to or weaken the objective of shared responsibility.

The implications for practitioners of shared responsibility are many. It means refusal at certain points to get engaged in an issue but leaving it to the community to decide. it can mean already established and capable community leaders sometimes absenting themselves deliberately to force the emergence of new leadership. it means more time spent on reaching a consensus with a group. It means looking for every opportunity to sub-divide work and assign a small group to figure out the task and do it. it means frequent discussions within the group that let them realize what they are experiencing. it includes regular exposure to new perspectives through interchange outside the village or group.

Type Classification:
D: Detailed strategies